by Samantha Calthrop
Several universities across Ireland have announced their plans to increase the cost of on-campus accommodation, following a worrying trend from previous years. The cost of accommodation in all areas is to be raised by 4%, the maximum increase permitted under new student accommodation laws. DCU’s on-campus accommodation has confirmed plans to raise rents for the next three years, introducing an overall increase of 12%. UL and Maynooth have also announced plans to increase rents, although shying away from the maximum of 4%– just about, increasing by 3.5% and 3% respectively.
Universities have quoted refurbishment projects and the need to build more accommodation as reasons for increases, despite pushback from Students’ Unions. UL and NUIG have both announced refurbishment and building projects, while DCU referred to “ongoing investment” for refurbishment.
“The University operates the best value and lowest priced on-campus student accommodation in Dublin, priced significantly below the prices charged by private sector operators within the vicinity of DCU,” reads a statement by DCU, defending the cost increases. It also pointed out that universities do not receive funding for accommodation from the government.
Rent increases as high as 11.5% were introduced just before the start of the 2019/2020 term, before the rent increase cap was introduced, also for alleged refurbishment needs.
DCUSU President Christine Farrell expressed the SU’s ‘outrage’ in a statement released online, condemning the increases. “Students are already under huge financial burdens in the midst of the accommodation crisis with some facing long commutes from places like Belfast and the west of Ireland. I can only imagine how many more will be joining them on hours-long commutes from around the country simply to educate themselves, something which is an absolute right and not a privilege of those more fortunate.”
NUIGSU president Clare Austick echoed her sentiments, saying, “We meet students everyday who have to work two or more part-time jobs to stay in college, students who commute huge distances, students who can’t afford decent accommodation and students who aren’t in college who should be. We are outraged that in the midst of an accommodation crisis the University is again looking to profit from the desperation of students looking for accommodation.”
Trinity is also facing proposed rent increases, which their Students’ Union stands opposed to. “We will do whatever we must in the lead up to, and in the aftermath of, this meeting to ensure that students are not burdened with an increase in rent,” said TCDSU President Laura Beston, speaking to Trinity’s paper, The University Times. “We are already working on ensuring that this decision does not pass and will fight this decision with all the resources we have.”
UCC has not made any announcements of increases at the time of writing.