Funding to the UCD Student Health Centre will be drastically reduced next year, as a result of the withdrawal of an outside benefactor’s donation.
An anonymous benefactor donated €250,000 to the operations of the Student Health Centre in December 2007. This sum was to be split between two academic years and was donated specifically for use to fund the operations of the student counselling service. The benefactor has decided not to renew the donation to the service.
A spokesperson for UCD praised the benefactor, and noted that the donation had had an extremely positive effect on the student counselling service. The spokesperson explained that “the funding allowed the UCD Counselling service to significantly increase its support for student seeking assistance,” and noted that “one of the key results of this support has been the major reduction in waiting times for students over the course of the two years.”
The health service will now be operating on €125,000 less than it has had for the previous two years, and has meant that other funding options are being explored. UCD Students’ Union has agreed to hold an emergency Council meeting in the first week after the mid-term break, where class reps will vote on whether to present a referendum to the student body on a universal student health insurance scheme. If passed, the referendum could see a compulsory insurance scheme being rolled out as early as September 2010.
Commenting on the insurance scheme proposal, the UCD spokesperson stated that the policy would “cover primary care with a comprehensive travel policy included,” and that a “key feature of this initiative is the competitive premium that will be obtained due to the reputation and student numbers at UCD.”
The motion to be put to SU Council states that “the premium and policy specifications will be subject to an annual review by the Students’ Union President, Welfare Vice-President, Director of Student Health Service & Vice-President for Students,” and that the aforementioned parties will meet each May to review the amount students are charged for the scheme. It is understood that students who hold medical cards will be exempt from the insurance levy if they can provide proof of holding a medical card at the time of their academic registration.
If the referendum proposal is carried by SU Council, a referendum on the subject would be held in concurrence with the Union’s Executive Officer elections, which take place in the first week of April.