Wednesday 21 August 2019

Revealed: How much your college charges for student accommodation as rents are hiked

Students priced out of market as parents hit by huge financial strain

Stressed: Donnchadh Griffin owes about €3,000 in loans for housing costs. Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision
Stressed: Donnchadh Griffin owes about €3,000 in loans for housing costs. Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision
Roebuck Hall at UCD. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Gabija Gataveckaite

Students are facing an accommodation crisis as each of the country's universities hikes rents for the upcoming academic year.

An Irish Independent survey has revealed rent increases of up to 11.5pc year on year for university-owned and on-campus accommodation.

These increases come at a time when sky-high rents around the country mean students are being priced out of the market for private accommodation and many parents are being placed under massive financial pressure.

Experts are now warning that the student accommodation crisis has not yet peaked and is likely to get worse.

University College Cork (UCC) raised its prices by the highest percentage in the Irish Independent survey, increasing costs for its Mardyke Hall accommodation by 11.5pc for the coming 2019/2020 academic year.

Students must shell out €6,068, compared to €5,439 last year, to live in a room for the coming academic year.

UCC's University Hall accommodation saw the second-highest price hikes in the country, with an 11.3pc increase for a room with a private bathroom and double bed.

For the 2018/19 academic year, it cost students €5,550 to live in University Hall, but now it will cost €629 more, totalling €6,179.

In a statement to the Irish Independent, a spokesperson for the university said this increase is due to refurbishment works at the on-campus student accommodation.

New rent caps of 4pc will apply from August 15 for purpose-built student accommodation, including on-campus housing.

However, social policy lecturer at Maynooth University Rory Hearne warned that hard-pressed universities are using accommodation as a funding source.

"The crisis can only get worse. Students are now being squeezed even more because previously they would have relied heavily on the rental sector, but now that most people can't afford homes and there is little social housing, students have nowhere to go," he told the Irish Independent.

"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."

The cost increases were also criticised by the National Union of Students in Ireland (USI).

"Student accommodation prices country-wide have taken a sinister hike towards unaffordability in the past few years, this past year in particular," said USI president Lorna Fitzpatrick.

Elsewhere, student accommodation has increased by up to 6.2pc at University of Limerick (UL).

For a room in an eight-bedroom house in its student village Kilmurry, students are now being charged 5.89pc higher at €5,292, as opposed to last year's €4,998. Students who secure a place in the Plassey site will see a 6.2pc jump, from €4,488 to €4,768.

A spokesperson for the university said the price increases are due to an extended academic year and refurbishment costs. "UL has extended the academic year for 2019/20 from 37 weeks to 38 weeks, resulting in an additional week's rent being chargeable for the period.

"There has also been a capital refurbishment programme of €20m implemented over the last four years in UL's on-campus accommodation, which has significantly increased the standard of our facilities at UL."

The trend continued across Dublin's universities. Trinity College Dublin (TCD), Dublin City University (DCU) and University College Dublin (UCD) also increased the cost of college accommodation.

TCD sees the highest jump in costs in Dublin, as costs have jumped by up to 5.57pc.

Goldsmith Hall apartments will now cost €398 more. The apartments consist of four or five bedrooms, with two bathrooms and a kitchen/living room.

In a statement to the Irish Independent, a spokesperson for TCD said that the rates were set by the finance committee in May 2017.

"We are committed to providing our students with high-quality, safe and affordable accommodation and associated services, and the increases in rent reflect the cost of upkeep and the expense of providing utilities," the statement reads.

Following close behind TCD is Glasnevin's DCU, with a 4.9pc increase in its accommodation for first-year students.

Its Larkfield accommodation comprises small apartments which share two bedrooms, a kitchen and bathroom. Last year, it cost students €5,400 for the academic year and will now cost €5,665 from September.

The student accommodation in St Patrick's DCU campus in Drumcondra has previously been the subject of criticism due to price hikes of 38pc in 2017. The accommodation has risen in cost once again, now costing €5,555, a €263 increase from last year.

Read more here: Katherine Donnelly: 'Rent caps will ease pressure but there must be fairness too'

"The increase applied to our on-campus accommodation goes towards essential maintenance of existing accommodation," said a spokesperson for the university.

"It will still leave DCU Campus Residences as the supplier of the lowest priced on-campus student accommodation of any university in Dublin."

Maynooth University also saw significant cost increases of 4.4pc in its student accommodation.

For a single en-suite room in one of its on-campus apartment complexes, students will pay €270 more from September onwards compared to the last academic year.

"The increases reflect the increased operational costs we face in maintaining the buildings - utilities, repairs, maintenance etc," said the university's spokesperson.

"However, we have limited these increases in recognition of the financial burden students face in finding affordable accommodation," she added.

UCD sees by far the lowest increases, with hikes of up to 2.7pc from last year's costs.

Donnchadh Griffin (22) is one student who has struggled to afford rent as he admits he is thousands of euro in debt as he moves closer to graduating.

His story can be read here: Priced out: 'I'm €3,000 in debt just to pay rent'

Irish Independent

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