The cost of student accommodation for the year 2019/2020 has increased nationwide, with UCC
introducing the highest price increase in Ireland. All five of UCC’s on-campus accommodation
facilities— University Hall, Victoria Lodge, Castlewhite apartments, Victoria Mills, and Mardyke
Hall– saw price increases between 10% and 11.5%, with the price range now €4029-€6179
The Board of Management introduced the increase despite objections from the UCC Students’
Union (UCCSU) when it was announced. The board were given a presentation on the effects of
the increase, which they acknowledged but declined to remove or lessen the increase. UCC
President O’Shea also wrote to the board asking them to reconsider. The UCCSU urged
students to leave negative reviews on the campus accommodation’s social media in protest,
and the college responded by turning off comments.
A spokesperson for UCC defended the decision, pointing out the effectiveness and relative
cheapness of the University’s accommodation and the fact that accommodation prices were not
raised between 2016 and 2018.
“UCC’s Campus Accommodation rates for 2019/2020 remain significantly below the level of
privately-owned student accommodation in Cork City,” read a statement from the University,
“The increase in rates was necessary to ensure UCC is in a position to meet the attendant rise
in costs for the ongoing maintenance and security of student accommodation. An ongoing
refurbishment programme is also necessary to maintain the standard of facilities and to ensure
student accommodation meets access and health and safety standards.”
The decision was condemned by the UCCSU, who have been pushing for lower prices in
student accommodation and living costs. Last year, the Accommodation Rally for Affordable
Housing— a joint protest by UCC and CIT— condemned the raising rent costs for students in
Cork and elsewhere.
“UCC Students priorities are not founded in questions of refurbishments but instead in questions
of whether they can or cannot afford to attend a college which they have earned a place in,”
said UCCSU President Ben Dunlea, in response to the 2019-2020 rent increase. “We believe
UCC should reconsider these increases and better align their priorities, in relation to housing,
with those held by their students.”
“Going forward from here, UCCSU 2019/20 is committed to fighting against these increases,
and we are in consultation with the USI about what can be done next.” added a UCCSU
spokesperson, talking to the Express.
The national cost increase has been condemned by several other bodies, including the National
Union of Students in Ireland (USI). USI president Lorna Fitzpatrick said, “Student
accommodation prices country-wide have taken a sinister hike towards unaffordability in the
past few years, this past year in particular.”
The rent increase follows a 200% increase in the capitation fee announced earlier this year,
which also drew criticism for increasing the financial pressure on students. Funding per student
has dropped by 50% since the economic recession in 2008, and increases in capitation fees,
accommodation costs, and exam re-sit fees have all raised issues in the past few years.
“Colleges don’t have enough funding and college accommodation is an income source. But
students shouldn’t have to pay for that. Colleges should stand up to the Government and
demand more funding.” said Social Policy lecturer Rory Hearne of Maynooth University in a
statement to the Irish Independent.
Rent increase caps of 4% for purpose-built student accommodation are set to be introduced
from August 14th, holding student accommodation to similar standards as other rented
properties, but the high increases are currently still legal.