Alessandro Correia, a second-year student at Trinity College Dublin, describes how student nurses are exploited by the government, Colleges and hospitals. They are flatmates with a first-year nursing student.
By Alessandro Correia.
Many people are well and truly aware of our Colleges’ treatment of nursing students, mostly through the placement hours that student nurses around the country are forced to suffer through without pay. This is a significant issue. However, the issues of exploitation within the nursing discipline go far deeper and betray a a deeper insight into what our institutions truly think of their students.
I am currently flatmates with a first-year student within the nursing discipline, from Trinity College Dublin. Right from the outset it is quite clear that they suffer. Despite being an Irish citizen their fees are not subsidized by the Irish government and thus they are forced to pay the full 7,000 euro tuition fees. According to the student, they studied for a year in the Netherlands and this is reason enough for their fees not to be subsidized, despite qualifying for the subsidies according to the Higher Education Authority (HEA) guidelines. Despite ongoing struggles by activists and nurses, our government and our Colleges (who have been silent on the issue) have been steadfast in ensuring they are forced to pay more than twice the fees they should.
One would assume that with the level of fees they’re paying they’re getting a high quality of education. This is unfortunately far from reality. Their entire course for the first semester has been online. As described by the student, they are given 11 hours of online learning per week spread over 1 and a half days. The idea that this is an education that will prepare them for medical practice is laughable. For paying full fees, they are given 80% live online studies and 20% pre-recorded videos. This does not seem like the description of a 7-thousand-euro full time degree at what is supposedly Ireland’s finest third-level educational institution
Our College, in my case Trinity College Dublin, has such a lack of consideration for these students that they forced the student and all those in their class to retake an exam, claiming that students “cheated” without providing any evidence to back it up. They scrapped the first grades and then rewrote the exam the same week as two MCQ exams. This sudden change of structure and style came as a shock to many of those in the students’ class, who were prepared for the original exam which was announced well in advance.
The student in question from Cork wonders why they have moved to Dublin paying extortionate rent and College fees while receiving a sub-par education.
And finally, we come to the infamous topic of placement. The student is required as part of their course to work full-time with 13 hour shifts of nursing work in addition to an approximately 2 hours long commute to the hospital. It is disgraceful that a student is paying double the fees they should, receive a substandard education and then is expected to work a full-time job with little to no pay. Our future nurses are an integral part of our society and how we treat them is instrumental to our future. Unfortunately, the government and Colleges do not understand this outlook and revert to exploitation of their labour.
In these times leading up to exams all College students must be acutely aware of the way our institutions view and treat its students. We students are the ones who create the value in campus and not the management. The solution is uniting as a student body to fight the injustices that face all those who create value on campus. The time for change is now.
Picture of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organization (INMO) protest on the 2nd of November. Students talk of having to travel up to Dublin from as early as 2am and book hotels to work for little to no pay, lacking financial support during Covid, some are unable to afford groceries and they say that there is a culture within Colleges and hospitals where they are silenced.