By Sean Moriarty

Parents of university going children are up in arms with on-campus accommodation providers who are charging for full terms despite universities being closed. Thousands of students have not attended physical university lectures since Christmas. More have not attended colleges since last October.

Accommodation providers are still charging parents for facilities that are not being used.

The situation only applies to first year students who had to pre-pay for accommodation for the first term between September and January.

Second term rates are now payable to ensure student accommodation from now until May or June.

Parents who have already paid over €3,500 for on-campus between September and January are now expected to fork out the same amount for the rest of the school year despite students not attending the school.

Local councillor Niall ‘Botty’ O’Callaghan is one of many parents affected. He is son is a student at the University of Limerick but has not been on campus since last October.

The councillor now faces a €3,700 bill to cover the remainder of the year despite the fact the university is closed and there is no immediate evidence on when they might reopen.

“I have taken this up with the university but they say it’s not their problem as they sub-contract their student letting,” he told the Killarney Advertiser. “That is not right and they know it. They need to return this money to families. I know one local man who has two sons in college – he has been caught for €3,500 twice. Every day we see Higher Education Minister Simon Harris spouting about other departments but he does not want to do anything about this and this is his department.”

Cllr O’Callaghan is going to raise the issue at the next meeting of Kerry County Council in an effort to force the issue onto the national agenda.