Saturday 21 October 2017

Students count cost of failed exams as colleges make millions from resit fees

Each university imposes its own fees, meaning many cash-strapped students face a ‘lottery’, when it comes to how much they must pay. Stock picture
Each university imposes its own fees, meaning many cash-strapped students face a ‘lottery’, when it comes to how much they must pay. Stock picture
Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

Universities are earning millions of euro in exam 'resit fees' charged to students who fail to make the grade first time round.

As exam season gets under way, new figures reveal third level colleges enjoy a huge annual cash boost from a range of "fees".

It comes as many third level college students are coping with unprecedented financial pressures - most notably record high costs in the rental sector.

UCD earned €1.8m in a single academic year from charging students looking to repeat exams, the Sunday Independent can reveal.

Each university imposes its own fees, meaning many cash-strapped students face a 'lottery', when it comes to how much they must pay.

It also comes as top professors and academics continue to enjoy lucrative lump sum retirement packages linked to gold plated pension schemes.

Trinity College doesn't charge its students to resit exams.

However, in UCD the cost is €230 to repeat a module, or resit an exam.

Records show the university charged €1,853,455 in exam repeat and resit fees for the academic year 2014-2015.

Meanwhile, the University of Limerick has taken in more than €1.8m in exam repeat payments over the past five years.

Last year, the college - which charges €171 to resit a module - collected €352,033 from 1,490 students who repeated.

In the three academic years from 2013-2016, University College Cork earned more than €677,000 from resit fees.

Last year alone it boosted its coffers by €211,925 - with 2,351 students forced to pay up to continue their studies.

It charges €35 per module, with a maximum charge of €245.

Meanwhile, records show many senior staff in various third level institutions still enjoy lucrative pension and service related pay-offs.

In TCD, a total pot of €2.2m was shared between 55 retiring employees last year, an average of €41,361 per person.

In total, the Trinity authorities have overseen the payout of €10.6m on lump sums for 248 employees in the past five years.

Two professors each drew down a lump sum in excess of €200,000.

In 2016, a University of Limerick employee received a final exit payment of more than €200,000.

Jack Leahy, deputy president of the Union of Students of Ireland (USI), said the charging of fees "disincentives" financially pressed students from resitting exams.

"While they might be able to pass the exam on a second sitting, there are those who simply don't bother because they can't afford it," he said.

Sunday Independent

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