A total of 160 University College Cork students were found to have breached public health guidelines designed to stop the spread of Covid, with 43 of these students temporarily suspended while an investigation was conducted, thecan reveal.
While 117 students were dealt with by UCC’s Campus Watch for Covid-19 breaches between March 2020 and March of this year, the remainder had to face the Student Discipline Committee, which investigates “more serious alleged breaches of Student Rules”.
These 43 students were temporarily suspended from the university for a period of 10 days while the committee conducted its investigation These temporary suspensions involved prohibition from access to the campus, including the library.
Students found to be in breach of student rules by the Discipline Committee can face a fine of up to €5,000, be barred from accessing library and/or computer facilities, prohibition to access to campus for a period, have their examination results withheld and/or face suspension.
For serious breaches, students can face debarring from examinations and expulsion from the university.
While UCC would not provide details of the sanctions imposed on the 43 students, they noted that no students faced expulsion or were debarred from university examinations in these cases.
The 117 students identified by UCC’s Campus Watch as having breached Covid guidelines were asked to pay a charitable contribution of up to €75 or forgo the fine in favour of attending an alcohol education programme and a bystander intervention programme.
UCC said “a mix of students” decided to forgo, or were unable, to attend the in-house educational programmes and paid the full €75 charitable contribution.
A spokesperson for the university said: “The vast majority of students have shown remarkable resilience in the face of an unprecedented challenge at a formative time of their lives.”
Meanwhile, UCC Students' Union President Asha Woodhouse said “there are rules there and they exist to keep everyone safe and ensure everyone has a good student experience”.
Ms Woodhouse said in her experience students as a whole have been “very compliant” with public health guidelines and the figures illustrate that it is a “very small minority” of students who had broken the rules.
“Students have sacrificed a whole lot,” she said, “for me, [the figures] illustrate that students have been compliant and have sacrificed just as much as everyone else.”