Student representatives at NUI Galway have blasted the university this week for heaping more financial pressure on students struggling to pay fees.
In figures released under the Freedom of Information Act, it was revealed that NUIG fined students just under €250,000 for late payment of their €3,000 ‘student contribution’ – a situation the Students’ Union President branded as ‘ridiculous’.
Pádraic Toomey said putting additional financial strain on students who were already unable to pay what they owed defied all logic and called on the university to scrap late-payment fees in line with several other third level institutions.
“By charging these fees, the university is acting like a credit card company charging interest which just shouldn’t be the case.
“They are already charging over €3,000 in contributions and it’s as though they’re saying ‘what else can we take on top of that’,” said Mr Toomey.
According to the figures released under FOI, late payment fees to the value of €246,000 were charged to students last year, €62,000 of which was later waived. In total, the university has collected €136,000 from students, with €46,000 outstanding.
Mr Toomey said students who failed to make the minimum payments due in October and February faced a €200 fine, indicating that up to 1,200 students failed to pay in time last year.
“You could actually end up being fined twice, if you can’t make the payment on both occasions.
“It’s just another thing that feeds into ‘Rip-off NUIG’,” said Mr Toomey referring to a slogan that arose last year on foot of the university’s refusal to waive its €295 fee for repeat exams.
There was no transparency in how certain students had their late-payment fees waived, he continued, but he suspected it was a case of students having to plead their case with the fees office.
“It shouldn’t be the case that any student should have to go in and cry about being unable to pay fees. It’s like a punishment for not having the money to pay,” said Mr Toomey.
“There is no obvious process for how that [waiver] works, but we know it’s often people who will just keep their head down and bear the brunt of these charges that end up suffering.”
He said other third level institutions in Ireland blocked students from graduating or progressing to the next year of their studies if they failed to pay their fees, something he said was far more likely to secure payment.
“I just can’t put into words how ridiculous this is, the idea that you would fine people who are unable to pay in the first place.”
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see the current edition of the Connacht Tribune or Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.
Boil water notice issued for Barna area
A boil water notice has been issued for the Barna area for health protection purposes
The areas affected are Barna Village, Truskey West and Truskey East, Barr Aille, Fermoyle, Ballard and along the Connemara Coast Road as far as Furbo, and on the Barna/Galway Road as far as Silverstrand.
The notice has been put in place due to issues with disinfection of the water at Tonabruckey Reservoir.
The notice affects approximately 2,300 people supplied by the Barna section of the Galway City West Public Water Supply area.
Customers in the area served by Tonabrucky Reservoir will notice increased levels of chlorine in their water supply in the coming days as we work to resolve the issue.
Vulnerable customers who have registered with Irish Water will receive direct communication on this Boil Water Notice.
Irish water, the City Council and the HSE will monitor the supply and will lift the notice when it is safe to do so.
In line with HSE Covid-19 advice and the requirement for frequent hand washing, Irish Water advises that the water remains suitable for this purpose and boiling the water is not required.
Violent incident in Tuam leaves seven hospitalised
Gardaí are investigating after an incident in Tuam yesterday left seven people injured.
A violent altercation broke out between a large group at the cemetery in Tuam at about 4pm yesterday.
Around 30 Gardaí responded to the incident at the cemetery on the Athenry Road in Tuam, which broke out following two funerals in the area.
Gardaí supported by members from the wider North Western Region and the Regional Armed Support Unit had to physically intervene between parties and disperse those present.
Five males and two females were injured during the course of the incident and were taken to University Hospital Galway with non-life threatening injuries.
A 16-year-old boy was arrested at the scene, as he tried to flee in possession of a knife.
He was taken to Tuam Garda Station and has since been released. A file is being prepared for the Juvenile Liaison Officer.
Gardaí are appealing for any witnesses to this incident or for anyone with any information to contact Tuam Garda Station .
Anger over ANC ‘snip’
ANGRY farmers hit out during last week’s Galway IFA at the Dept. of Agriculture over what they described as their ‘heavy handed tactics’ in docking BEAM penalties from ANC payments made last week.
Although Agriculture Minister, Charlie McConalogue, has apologised for the actions taken by his Department officials, delegates who attended last Thursday’s night county IFA meeting in the Claregalway Hotel, hit out at what happened.
In some cases, according to Galway IFA Chairperson, Anne Mitchell, farmers who had already paid back the BEAM penalty also had the money deducted from their ANC (Areas of Natural Constraint) payments made last week.
Many farmers received ‘a shock in the post’ when their ANC payments were hit with the deductions of penalties from the BEAM scheme – earlier they had been warned of interest penalties if any balances weren’t repaid within 30 days.
At the core of the problem was the inclusion of a 5% stock numbers reduction in the BEAM scheme (Beef Exceptional Aid Measure) aimed at helping to compensate farmers for a drop-off in beef prices between September, 2018 and May, 2019.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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