A senior lecturer in Medicine has branded UCD “myopic” over the college’s decision to discontinue its policy of providing rent-free classrooms in the Quinn Institute granted to 5-15 year-old children taking Chinese classes. Speaking to The University Observer, Dr Jack Lambert claimed that this decision contrasted with the progressive image that the university seeks to uphold.w
He said: “UCD claim in the press that they’re this organisation who are bridging gaps between Ireland and China. To turn around and do something like to this to the tune of €24,000 a year is actually just mean.”
The classes had been held in conjunction with the Confucius Institute as part of an informal arrangement in recent years, however UCD is now asking the students to pay €500 per week to rent the rooms on the basis that they have no formal affiliation with them.
Dr Lambert argued that UCD should reverse the decision, saying: “Quinn Business school is open Saturday afternoon, there’s no additional costs, so why are they charging all of a sudden? It seems like it’s not a culturally appropriate thing to do and it’s a bit ludicrous, as there’s 20 to 30 classrooms available.”
While UCD attributed the decision to charge the students to “the economic climate,” Dr Lambert argued that there was no additional costs to the school, as many of its classrooms were “open anyway” on Saturday afternoons.
“The issue is that there’s a building that’s open, with no additional charge. If you agreed to provide free classrooms for these kids, why did they not just continue to do it in the spirit of goodwill? There’s no justification for it.”
Dr Lambert added that the class have now had to arrange “alternative accommodation in the city centre”.
Dean of the Quinn Business School, Dr Tom Begley, defended the decision in an email, writing: “Having investigated the situation, I would have to say that the decision to begin charging rent needs to stand. The funding of Irish universities is being significantly reduced. We cannot afford to fund extra non-School related activities through absorbing the operational costs. I do not know if the Medical School has uncommitted discretionary income. We [the Quinn School] do not.”
Cindy Liu, a DIT lecturer in charge of running the classes, described the university’s stance as “disappointing” and expressed hope that they would reconsider the decision.
The classes originally took place from 2-4pm every Saturday.
When contacted by The University Observer, a university spokesperson declined to comment on the matter.