It’s been revealed that NUI Galway is hiring debt collection agencies to retrieve unpaid student fees.
Such a move is part of an increasing trend by Irish colleges seeking to clamp down on students defaulting on fees. The agency hired by NUIG is known to be South Western, whom the university believe to adequately represent their values.
A spokesperson for the university HAS said “NUIG wants to maximise the amount of overdue debt that it collects from students that have left college without fully graduating or who have dropped out of a course without paying the full financial compensation due.”
Mairéad Farrell, a spokesperson for Sinn Féin Galway East, previously described the move as “outrageous” and emphasised the enormous financial pressure students and their families face.
The University’s Students Union Welfare Officer, Declan Higgins, believes debt collection to be a “sensitive” area and that each case should be handled accordingly. The Students Union say they are yet to receive complaints of excessive harassment from students by the agency.
UCD, with student numbers of over 24,000, also employ debt collectors in recouping fees that could amount to almost 1 million euro.
DCU are known to be employing a debt collection agency called Legal and Credit Management Services Ltd.
DCU President, Professor Brian MacCraith, spoke last week to The College View on decreased public funding being made available to universities and this may in part explain the surge amongst colleges in debt collection.
These widespread financial pressures come at a time when student contribution fees are ever increasing and will reach a total of 3,000 euro by 2015, as per the 2013 government budget. This is coupled with a predicted rise in student accommodation prices, particularly in the Dublin area.