By Conor Brummell
(News and Current affairs editor)
NUI Galway’s University Management Team (UMT) have confirmed that they will not be lowering the student levy fee of €224 this year, despite access to campus being restricted due to the Coronavirus.
Students have raised concerns about the fee being charged this year, as lectures have been moved online until after Christmas and most students are doing college lectures from home.
Investigating the matter, SIN can breakdown of where student levy money goes to, and the University Management Team’s reasoning for not lowering the fee this year. The breakdown of the €224 is as follows:
There is a Sports Centre Construction fee of €100, which was added to the student levy in the academic year 2007/2008 by referendum to aid in the costs of building the Kingfisher Gym, that SIN has previously reported on.
€25.14 goes to the Students’ Union, Societies and Clubs both receive €19.18 each, The Student Health Unit gets €18.46 from the levy, as well as Flirt Fm receiving €4.92. On top of this, the student levy contributes €19.69 to the Student Project Fund and €17.23 to the Áras na Mac Léinn Fund.
The University Management Team has justified the decision to keep the student levy at this rate stating; “Flirt FM, the Students Health Unit and the Students’ Union will continue to operate as normal providing their service to the student community. The Students Project Fund has already made their allocations for the academic year 2020/21 and will be advancing their approved projects. The Sports Centre levy continues to service the loan provided to build the university indoor sports facilities.”
The funding for Societies and Clubs will be allocated at its usual rate, and the UMT has explained that both are still active within the college, be it at a reduced capacity, or online. “All sports clubs are currently active. They are preparing and submitting the Covid–19 protocols to the Sports Unit to meet the returned to play requirements. Dangan has been opened for training and competitive games up to last week.
“NUI Galway teams who are involved in national competitions have been deemed to be elite sports athletes by the national governing bodies and are currently training and competing within the government guidelines,” the statement from the UMT continued.
As well as this, the UMT states that “Due to the reduction in the number of people allowed play or train indoors, we are currently negotiating additional spaces so that we can cater for our current numbers. A participation program has been prepared to offer our students physical activity both on the campus and on virtual platforms. This will be rolled out over the remainder of the semester.
The scholarship programme is being delivered virtually. Our physio service is also available for the scholars online.”
Societies have also been active, with 2,549 new members already this year, according to the UMT. “Societies have developed and maintain the YourSpace platform (which hosts extra- curricular activity from Societies, Volunteering, mentoring, CEIM, clubs and the Employability Award). They also host a virtual helpdesk from Monday to Thursday to assist students, have held a virtual Societies Fair, and played a major part in First–Year Orientation. They are looking forward to coming back to the space in Áras na Mac Léinn as soon as it is deemed feasible under the relevant regulations.”
The contribution listed as ‘Áras na Mac Léinn fund’ goes directly to the annual running costs of the Áras na Mac Léinn complex, which includes the SU Offices, the Socs Box, the students’ Common Room, the Student Health Centre and the Baily Allen Hall.
SIN queried where the money raised through the Student Levy for the Áras na Mac Léinn fund will be going this year, as access to the building for the Students’ Union, The Flirt Fm Team and the Socs Box is currently off-limits, and the Bailey Allen Hall and the Students’ Common Room are not in use. “The funding will not be used for anything other than the upkeep of Áras na Mac Léinn. Some years expenditure is higher than others, for example when an area is refitted. We don’t know yet what will happen for the remainder of the Academic Year 2020/21,” the statement from the UMT concluded.