University of Limerick under pressure to refund rent to departed students

The University of Limerick (UL) is coming under increasing pressure to refund rent paid by students who vacated campus accommodation due to the coronavirus.
University of Limerick under pressure to refund rent to departed students
The University of Limerick remains the only university in the country that has refused to refund students who were forced to leave their accommodation.
The University of Limerick remains the only university in the country that has refused to refund students who were forced to leave their accommodation.

The University of Limerick (UL) is coming under increasing pressure to refund rent paid by students who vacated campus accommodation due to the coronavirus.

Education Minister Joe McHugh has waded into the row, contacting UL Chancellor Mary Harney to discuss the matter.

UL is the only university in Ireland which has not refunded students who chose to leave campus accommodation early.

As with all university accommodation, students in Limerick paid for the full term up-front. However, when the virus broke out and universities were forced to shutter campuses and deliver materials online, many students opted to leave shared accommodation.

UL told students they could claim their deposit back early but that rents paid to cover the rest of the semester would not be refunded. This was in stark contrast to other universities, including UCC which refunded students on a pro-rata basis once they left.

The stance was criticised by UL Students' Union at the time as "untenable", with student groups urging the university to show a "duty of care" to students.

UL has 2,850 beds in on-campus village residences. Campus accommodation is still open and operational, and 500 students are living there, according to a UL spokesman.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education said: "Minister McHugh has made his feelings known as to how the university should act. It should be noted that final decision rests with UL."

A UL spokesman said the matter is under reconsideration.

"The matter of refunds to student residents at University of Limerick is under serious review by UL Governing Authority," he said.

The authority was due to meet to discuss last Friday but the meeting was postponed. A new date has not yet been confirmed and, as such, no decision has been made.

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