UL could be set to introduce fees of over €4,000 for postgraduate students who spend over three years working on their PhD.
President of UL’s Postgraduate Students Association (PSA) Michael Bourke, said such a move would put current research at the University under threat.
“The majority of students completing a doctorate will carry their research past the three year mark, and many are already under financial pressure”.
UL is the only University that doesn’t charge fees for entering a fourth year, and he argues a move in this direction will directly affect the University’s potential to attract the best students.
In response to Mr Bourke’s concerns, UL told the Limerick Post that it is currently reviewing these fees in line with the standards across the sector.
The postgraduate representative said: “Current PhD students have told me that they choose UL because there are no fees after the third year, and this will have an adverse affect on its ability to attract the best students”.
At present in UL, students who do not complete their PhD within the first three years are charged a continuation fee of €437.
A statement said: “These fees are at the lower end of the scale in relation to those at a national level. The costs within the university sector are in the region of €1,500 per year for continuation fees and in some institutions full fees apply for each year of study”.
Mr Bourke understands that there are also proposals to increase the continuation fee.
“Allegedly, this continuation fee is going to increase to €1,000 and could be higher depending on the field of study”.
He believes that the decision to review the fees is purely finance based.
“UL, like all Universities in Ireland, are a bit strapped for cash and seem to be looking for money anywhere they can get it”.
Mr Bourke explained that postgraduate research in Ireland is geared towards three years, and funding is provided for that period.
He said the introduction of further fees or higher fees would have a devastating affect on current students.
“Since learning of these proposals many our students simply could not afford to complete their PhD, if these charges were introduced”.
Over 800 postgraduate students pursued either research masters or doctoral programmes in UL in 2008/09.