Sunday 20 October 2019

DCU receives backlash over introduction of €50 charge on accommodation applications

DCU (stock image)
DCU (stock image)

Donal Corrigan

Dublin City University has received backlash over the introduction of a €50 charge on applications for campus accommodation.

The student accommodation service is introducing a €50 administration fee for incoming first year students who are applying to stay on campus for the 2019/2020 year.

According to the DCU Campus Residence website, the fee was non-refundable.

dcu.jpg
According to the DCU Campus Residence website, the fee was non-refundable.

Independent.ie understands the decision to make the new charge non-refundable for students who don't receive a room was reversed and was removed from their web page following outcry from students.

“When I was applying in first year I wasn’t sure what college I was going to end up in so I applied for numerous campus accommodations. I say I speak for most students when I say that my parents paid for my accommodation. I don’t think I’d apply for DCU campus if I thought there was a chance of them being charged €50 for absolutely nothing," said Evan Cudden, chairperson of DCU Saint Vincent De Paul Society.

It was previously free to set up a profile on the Campus Residences website however now each student must pay this fee in order to be eligible for a room on campus.

The accommodation providers previously tried to introduce a €20 fee for the 2018/2019 academic year but decided against it before registration began last year.

They have now decided to implement this charge but instead raise the price to €50 for the 2019/2020 academic year.

“I lived on campus for two years at DCU and the charges they can incur on students throughout the year is already absurd. It is beyond unacceptable to expect vulnerable students to fork out €50 for just making an application when they aren’t even guaranteed a place in the university, never mind a room on the campus,” said Michelle Winters, who is in her final year studying business studies at the university.

DCU Campus Residence released an official response saying:

"We understand the pressure that students are under and we continue to do everything that we can to make the process as fair and efficient as we possibly can for everyone concerned. Every year there is a significant number of applicants who are successful during the Campus Residences room allocation lottery and who subsequently turn down that offer. This increases significantly the time taken for offers to be sent to genuine applicants. 

"The fee in question has been introduced in an effort to get a clearer picture of the number of applicants who genuinely wish to reside in on-campus accommodation and to discourage non-serious applications who register for accommodation at DCU."

A spokesperson added that the fee is fully-refundable if a student does not get offered a room on campus and said that while their policy has never changed, they acknowledged that changes have been made to the DCU web page to reflect that the fee is refundable.

"However, if a student is offered a room and refuses that offer or if a student withdraws their application for a room, the deposit is not refundable," the spokesperson added.

Students are allocated rooms in a lottery system where students' names are chosen at random, meaning paying the fee wouldn't increase a student's chances of securing accommodation.

DCU's Students' Union was made aware about the introduction of a €50 deposit by campus residence last summer however they were not informed that this deposit would not be returned to unsuccessful applicants.

Threshold, the housing rights charity, says that student accommodation does not fall under the Residential Tenancies Act 2004. This act sets out the rights of tenants and landlords. Students are not included in this act as they are not tenants in the accommodation for 365 days of the year.

Students that already have a profile set up on the website, such as second and third years, will not have to pay this new fee. They will go through a first come first served basis in contrast to the first years ‘lottery system’ that is used to allocate rooms.

There are 1,400 rooms available for undergraduate and postgraduate students on campus. 

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