RETURNING and First Year students, citing ‘limited communication’, feel they have been ‘left in the dark’ by Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) ahead of the new academic year. That’s the contention of Labour Party Comeragh representative and former WIT Students Union (WITSU) President Michael Murphy.
In a statement, Mr Murphy said he had been contacted by “concerned and frustrated students” who feel there’s been a communication deficit on the Institute’s behalf regarding “their return to study, accommodation, on-site and student placements to name a few”.
He conceded: “The delivery of education has had no option but to be adjusted and changed by educational institutions which has been and continues to be an extremely difficult task for staff and management alike. However, the main stakeholders are the students and at present, WIT students’ level of concern and anxiety are extremely high.”
The latest information on the WIT website for incoming students states: “We are actively planning for a first year intake this autumn. We know it is a difficult time but we are still encouraging students to do as much research as possible into the right course for you and are continuing to provide as much support and information to you as possible.
“We are planning to run all our programmes in the 2020/21 academic year. The start date for first years will obviously be impacted by the changes in the Leaving Certificate assessment timeline so unfortunately it is not yet possible to be definitive with a start date for first years. You can be assured however that it will be as soon as practical and that your college experience will remain at the highest of standards.”
Noting that a “large proportion of students who depend on part-time (and/or) summer jobs to offset fees and accommodation costs (now) find themselves with a major financial shortfall,” Mr Murphy said the prospect of Christmas exams in January would also impact on students “meant to be out on placement”.
He added: “Students whose courses require placement are concerned they will have to defer due to Covid-19 restrictions, making it extremely difficult to find work placement.”
Another serious concern relayed to Michael Murphy relates to on-site learning. “For how many hours are students expected to be on campus?” he queried.
“If this is limited to a day or potentially not at all then students may not need to get accommodation in Waterford. Many landlords now require a deposit, first month and the last month’s rent. This puts students under extreme financial pressure and this may not be necessary for many.”
Taking his recent representations into account, Michael Murphy has contacted WIT President Willie Donnelly.
“Students are asking for clarity from the college management of what the Covid-19 protocols will be for all students returning this semester, what will their educational experience look like this year because students and their families need to plan accordingly.” The Admissions team at WIT continues to work remotely.