Students frustrated with the lack of privacy in Fees Office

DCU Finance Office faces reform following criticism levelled by students about the lack of privacy whilst discussing their fees with staff members.

A survey conducted by The College View has prompted the Finance Office to assess its services according to Students’ Union President, Aaron Clogher.

Following the findings, the Finance Office has sent a questionnaire to students as part of its Quality Review Process which begins this month.

The College View assessed the performance of the Finance Office by surveying a random sample of 100 DCU students including those who accessed the Finance Office on that day.

While the main concern seems to centre on the lack of privacy for students in the Finance office; the findings raise issues across the board.

Clogher said in relation to the survey: “The Finance Office are currently engaged in a Quality Review Process which is going to be taking place over the next couple of months. During this process, the Finance Department will complete a self-assessment of all its functions as well as engage with all their stakeholders.”

“I have engaged in the preliminary meetings in this process recently and have raised some of the specific points you have raised in your survey at this forum and will continue to do so as the process continues. I would envisage further opportunities for students to engage with this process in the New Year.”

The findings reflect a lot of frustration from students towards the conduct of the Finance Office this year. SU Welfare Officer, Lorna Finnegan has had to deal with a number of these complaints.

Speaking to The College View she said: “From my experience in dealing with Students’ experiences with the Fees Office, the general concerns have been on inaccessibility. Some concerns included circulating fee payment warnings via email late on Friday evenings before reading week; a week in which office hours were shortened making it more difficult for students to resolve queries and concerns.”

In relation to the issues facing the current setting for the Finance Office, Lorna added that “many students were unaware of the location of the fees office”.

“In the past, allowing students to express their concerns on services within the University has aided change and improvement on campus so we hope that only improvement can come as a result of these concerns,” she said.

According to the survey almost one in every two students has had a bad experience with the Finance Office and feels that the service provided is not helpful enough.

The survey also unveiled a demand for the Office to tell their students how the late fine payment figure is calculated, and where this money goes. One Enterprise Computing student commented: “It isn’t contributed towards anything useful. The €170 seems like a figure they just plucked out of the air.”

Several students who participated in the survey noted coming to the office one or two minutes after closing-time and not being served.

Many students felt frustrated that the office was only open for three and a half hours a day as it was inconvenient and clashed with lecture timetables.

DCU Fees Officer, Deirdre Kelly responded to the survey saying: “The Finance Office has applied to the University for additional office space within the administration building. To date we have not been successful. We will certainly raise this issue again following this feedback. Locating both Fees and Registry offices together could be looked at as part of the campus plan.”

“The role of the Fees Office is the billing and collection of student fees on behalf of the University. It is unfortunate that the grant does not cover the Student Centre Levy, however, in order to be fair and consistent with students who are not on grants the university has no option but to collect the levy.”

She also added: “The late fine of €170 is taken into general fee income for the University.”

Eamon Donoghue

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