Sunday 15 September 2019

Colleges are cashing in as their rent income soars by millions

University College Cork
University College Cork
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Universities are cashing in as the rental crisis deepens, with revenues soaring by millions of euro over the past five years, the Irish Independent can reveal.

An analysis of accounts filed by the country's top education facilities shows they have lucrative incomes from accommodation. Despite this they have decided to increase prices further ahead of the publication of Leaving Certificate results next Tuesday.

Financial disclosures show the rising income achieved by universities nationwide as the housing crisis deepened.

They show that:

:: UCD - where rents are rising by up to 2.7pc - took in €27.5m in rental income in 2017, almost €10.3m more than 2014.

:: Trinity College Dublin (TCD) had €13m in income in 2018 while spending €2.1m per annum on maintenance and renovation.

:: Profits for the UCC-owned company that manages its student accommodation rose by almost €1m over five years.

It comes after this newspaper revealed rent increases by third-level institutions of up to 11.5pc ahead of the 2019/2020 academic year.

They were able to bring in the widespread hikes because new 4pc caps introduced by Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy don't take effect until next week.

UCC raised its prices by up to 11.5pc. Its financial statements show a €2.8m rise in student residences income since 2014, bringing it to €7.5m in 2017.

Last night UCC said that the surplus generated from rent is reinvested in student accommodation including an ongoing refurbishment programme and projects that will see the number of available student beds increase. It said its surplus mainly comes from "out-of-term occupancy by non-students".

DCU more than doubled the income it made from residences over the same period from just under €3.4m to €8.9m - an increase of €5.5m.

A statement said this reflected a 33pc increase in accommodation units as the university incorporated three other institutions. There was also some "cost recovery associated with a major investment in student accommodation" and "significantly increased" occupancy of accommodation over the summer months.

TCD had residences income of €9.8m in 2014. This stood at just over €13m in 2018, up €3.2m.

It said it was committed to providing students with "high-quality, safe and affordable accommodation" and increases in rent "reflect the cost of upkeep and the expense of providing utilities".

It added that €2.1m is spent on maintenance and renovation on an annual basis.

Maynooth University had income from residences of €5.2m in 2018, up €3.1m from 2014. It said this reflects the rise in the number of student beds from 653 to 945 over the period.

University of Limerick's (UL) income from its student accommodation was €13m in 2017, up €2.4m. UL said its general room rate increases over the last five years were an average of 3.5pc per annum. A statement said UL's income increased between 2014 to 2017 following the acquisition of additional student bedrooms in Troy Village in 2015.

National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) saw student accommodation up from almost €4.1m in 2014 to €5.4m in 2018, though this was down from a high of €6m in 2016. It said it had also expanded its student accommodation.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News