Students are ramping up their protests against rent increases for on-campus accommodation .
There has been a furious reaction to the decision by the majority of universities to hike rents in September , by 3pc-4pc. Under recent legislation, 4pc is the maximum allowable.
At NUI Galway, where a 4pc rise is coming for the 2020/21 year, students have started an occupation of the campus quadrangle.
They say they will stay there “day and night” until the decision is revoked.
NUIG Students’ Union President, Clare Austick said they met 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.”
The action at NUI Galway comes on the heels of a similar round-the-clock Occupy the Quad protest at University College Cork (UCC), which started on Monday.
In Cork, students are camping in tents and demanding that a planned 3pc increase does not go ahead and that a three year rent freeze is introduced.
Meanwhile, at University College Dublin (UCD) - where rents are set to rise by 4pc a year for each of the next three years - students staged a five to six hour protest today.
The demonstration, during which tents were pitched at the main entrance to the Belfield campus, was a forerunner to a major rally at the campus being planned by UCD Students Union for next Wednesday.
Meanwhile, students at Trinity College Dublin, staged a lunchtime protest at the main entrance today amid fears that rent increase are also on the way there.
TCD Students' Union President, Laura Beston said good work being done to encourage less well-off students into college was being undone by the increases
The protests have the backing of the Union of Students in Ireland (UISI).
USI president Lorna Fitzpatrick, who joined the occupation at NUIG Galway today, said:
“Students have been struggling for a long-time, but these increases are absolutely a step too far. We think universities need to care more about their students’ welfare and less about making profits from students simply looking for somewhere to live.
“We are not letting up on this and completely support the action being taking by students and we will continue to back them until the increases are reversed and rents are frozen.
"Members in UCC have been sleeping out since Tuesday, NUIG from today, and they will be until these decisions are reversed, which really shows that students cannot take anymore.”
She said universities needed to talk to their students to understand the hardships they are facing.
Universities justify the increases on the basis of the investment required for new accommodation and the refurbishment of existing accommodation, for which no Government funding is available.