CORK students have condemned University College Cork's (UCC) decision to raise rents for on-campus residences by 3pc.
UCC is among five other universities that plan to increase their on-campus student accommodation rates for the upcoming academic year.
University College Dublin (UCD), NUI Galway (NUIG), and Dublin City University (DCU) are applying a 4pc rise, University of Limerick (UL) is implementing a 3.5pc-4pc rise, while Maynooth University is raising rents by 3pc.
The increase means UCC students are now facing rates from €5,640 up to €6,364.
UCC Students' Union President, Ben Dunlea, told Independent.ie that the SU "fully condemns" the university's decision.
"UCC Students' Union fully condemns UCC's planned increase of 3pc over its five accommodation blocks. Two student representatives from the Union sit on the Board and vehemently disagreed throughout this process that any such increase should be implemented.
"It's important when reviewing such proposals that the wider implications are adequately appreciated. This year alone, we witnessed the UCC Student Assistance Fund running out of support funds faster than any recent year and a Food Bank having to be established in order to support those who are unable to purchase the bare essentials.
"UCC’s decision here would mean that UCC Accommodation has increased 19pc in three years, a rate that cannot be supported.
"Given the national context of a third of students in Ireland facing severe financial problems, this decision by UCC would seem to indicate a chasm of priorities emerging between UCC and it’s 22,000 students, one that will likely come to a head over the coming weeks."
In a statement, UCC said it is applying the 3pc rent increase to secure funds for refurbishing, security, and maintenance costs.
"Due to major refurbishing work, the rise in security and maintenance costs, and the investment required to provide additional accommodation for students, Campus Accommodation UCC has decided to raise its campus accommodation rates by 3pc for 2020/21. Income generated by Campus Accommodation is exclusively used by the company to meet such costs.
"UCC is extremely conscious of the financial challenges faced by students and has decided to undertake to review the applicability of the 2020/21 increase for students in receipt of student assistance funding," a spokesperson said.
The announcement comes as students at University College Dublin (UCD) held a rally today against a decision made by the university to increase on-campus accommodation rates by 12pc over the next three years.
The demonstration follows a proposal by the college to impose a rent increase of the maximum 4pc for each of the next three years after the cap was applied to student apartments last August to ensure rent predictability, in the same way as it does in Rent Pressure Zones (RPZ).
UCD students will pay some of the highest on-campus room fees in the country, with apartments available from €6,000 to €9,150 once the 4pc is applied.