UCC Students' Union has queried whether some returning students should be afforded a rent refund because of the last-minute decision to have online-only lectures in a bid to limit the spread of Covid-19.
Last Friday universities and higher-level education institutions across the country were asked to move lectures online for the next two weeks.
UCC SU said many students have already made arrangements to turn up and some have already paid thousands of euro up front for accommodation.
SU welfare officer Jamie Fraser said it was unlikely that private landlords would offer any refunds, but added that if any student in UCC accommodation came forward seeking assistance, the union would help them.
"I can't see a private landlord refunding that at all — but if someone with UCC [accommodation] raises it, we are more than happy to back them," he said.
UCC SU president Naoise Crowley had earlier said: "The first two weeks of classes will be online, but we don't know if that means two weeks or is it longer.
"People have paid three or four thousand euros up front, and are in a situation where they may not need to use that accommodation."
Many students have already payed €3,000/€4,000 up front for accommodation.— Asha Woodhouse (@UCCSUPresident) September 26, 2020
Support through rent refunds + emergency legislation is needed to ensure fairness to students affected by the ongoing pandemic.
Something that has been raised consistently over the last 6 months. https://t.co/6PYAhGopAQ
Mr Fraser said some students were, as of Sunday, still without a timetable for lectures that were due to start on Monday.
He said that in general there has still been a demand for student accommodation this year, despite the Covid-19 pandemic and restrictions, but that it had not been as marked as in previous years.
He said in some ways this was welcome, arguing that a 19% rise in the cost of UCC student accommodation had been mirrored in the private market, when students needed more accommodation at a lower cost.
Last week UCC announced a community charter, a joint social media campaign with its student union — and a Covid-19 safety support team would be among the initiatives it has planned as the new academic term gets underway.
Interim president of UCC, Professor John O’Halloran, said: “We have worked together with our students and staff since the pandemic occurred, and as the new term commences we want to both underline the importance of our shared responsibility and ensure we are supporting students and staff at this time."
More than 5,000 safety signs have been installed across the UCC campus, while over 10,000 face coverings have been distributed to students and staff to date.