UCC students told by union not to sign leases until they see class timetables

UCC students told by union not to sign leases until they see class timetables
Jamie Fraser, welfare officer with UCC Students Union, said students could potentially spend just one or two days a week on campus. File Picture of UCC campus.

University College Cork (UCC) students are being advised by their union to not commit to long-term leases until they know how many hours they will spend on-campus each week.

In an open letter to students, Jamie Fraser, the UCC student union (UCCSU) welfare officer, called on both landlords and the heads of colleges at UCC to show flexibility during this "tumultuous time."

Attending college in a 'blended fashion' this term will mean campus hours, in some cases, will be limited, with a significant portion of classes taking place online. 

“This could potentially mean being timetabled for only one or two days a week on campus, depending on your module selection.” 

Recreational time on-campus will also be greatly limited and in many cases “abolished”, until further notice.

"As your welfare officer, I do not feel comfortable advising you, the students, to commit to long-term lease agreements, as I know a lot of you have been pressured to so, due to the unpredictability of the near future, as well as the financial burden that many suffer in these times," he said.

"I understand how frustrated you will inevitably be at being pressured to pay an extraordinary amount of rent if you only have two hours on campus a week.

"Therefore, I once again call upon the various Heads of Colleges to circulate detailed timetables with the exact amount of contact hours specified in order to ease this stress amongst students."

While heads of colleges have been working hard to give students as much clarity as possible regarding the upcoming year, the delayed release of timetables is something that has added extreme stress to students.  

“I also understand that some departments have not given students the clarity they need and deserve to make informed choices about their living and academic situation over the coming year," Mr Fraser said.

He also called on landlords to show "understanding and compassion" to students looking to rent rooms in their properties. 

"I ask that you show flexibility and leniency to students when drawing up rental agreements for the upcoming academic year," Mr Fraser said.

"Students are dealing with a high level of stress in this climate which is having a direct impact on not just their student ‘experience but their mental health also." 

"Students have shown their resilience and courage throughout this pandemic adapting to online learning, with many making sacrifices including but not limited to selflessly working on the frontline," he added. 

The UCCSU is aware of the effects reduced campus time will have on students, not only from an education perspective but from a wellbeing and financial perspective as well. As such, it is working to ensure that counseling services are adapted for online, Mr Fraser added.

Separately, most students at the University of Limerick will only be on-campus one week each month. 

Timetables issued in July advised students they would spend one week every four weeks on campus. However, first-year students will spend one week every three weeks. 

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