Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology has apologised after two lecturers were overheard at the end of a Zoom session with students discussing the performance of students in crude terms, as well as speculating on private details of students' lives.
In a statement the college's President, Dr Orla Flynn, said she wanted to "wholeheartedly apologise to our students for the data breach that has caused such deep hurt and dismay".
Dr Flynn said GMIT was known as a student-centred institute "and some of the comments made by our staff do not reflect the values to which we aspire".
She said the college was taking the breach of GMIT policies and data protection legislation "very seriously".
Footage of the incident has been circulated on social media in recent days.
In it, two female lecturers are heard discussing what one characterises as the "very weak" performance of students during online presentations they have just made.
It is clear that the two believe they are speaking privately and are not aware of the fact that some students can hear them, and that they are being recorded.
Referring to students by name they speculate as to whether one student has a disability.
"Has (named student) something wrong with her?" one asks. The other responds that she had been wondering the same thing.
She says: "It's funny, I was thinking, before I make a (marking) decision here on communication, voice and body language … I said I'd better check with access to see if she is on the list someplace for something."
The lecturer is referring to the college's disability access office which would offer support to students with disabilities.
"I thought that f***ing (named student) would never, and he is sick that lad and I didn't like to, and eventually I said I have to do something, and he still didn't stop," one of the lecturers says, referring to another students as they calculate the marks they are going to award.
"I couldn't take much more of them anyway, I was exhausted," the other says.
Commenting that one student "wasn't too bad, I found him interesting", this lecturer goes on to say; "but I thought the other fella, (named student) I thought I'd have to get a drill and start drilling my teeth they were so painful, to be listening to him".
In the statement issued this evening by the college Dr Flynn said apologies will be issued to the students directly concerned.