Student fury as colleges push limits with accommodation fee hikesby Michael Staines
A number of colleges around the country are raising their student accommodation fees by the maximum 4% next year.
It comes after the Government last year moved to apply the Rent Pressure Zone restrictions to student apartments.
DCU and UCD are all set to raise rents by 4% for their on-campus accommodation.
Maynooth University is raising prices by 3% while the University of Limerick is raising them by between 3.5% and 4%.
In a statement, it said: "Maynooth University is fully committed to providing affordable student accommodation.
"Campus accommodation costs will increase by 3% for the coming year.
"The rental income funds accommodation essential maintenance and ongoing improvement works, in addition to funding the additional 196 new beds that were commissioned in 2017."
NUI Galway said it is raising some offerings by 3% and others by a “marginally higher” rate.
The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has warned that students are already struggling to put themselves through college – with rents already unaffordable.
Greg McHugh, vice president of the Dublin region for the USI, said: “If we are looking at student accommodation complexes, particularly around Dublin, we are looking at €8,000 to €11,000 per year.”
“So already the prices are enormously high.”
In a statement, DCU said it has an “ongoing refurbishment investment programme” in its student residences.
It said it has spent €3.8m on the programme with a further €1.6m earmarked for the latest round of refurbishments.
It noted that it has to invest in the accommodation with its own funds as the Government has not made any grants available for accommodation.
It said its accommodation won awards for “Best Value for Money” and “Best University Halls” last year.
“The University operates the best value and lowest priced on-campus student accommodation in Dublin, priced significantly below the prices charged by private sector operators within the vicinity of DCU,” it said.
The University of Limerick said it has spent €20m on refurbishment and upgrade costs across its accommodation in the past five years.
It said it is introducing a new twin room option for next year which will add 630 beds to the 2,850 already available on-campus.
The twin room option will cost between €2,800 and €4,250 for the 37-week school year.
NUI Galway said the rises were due to “increasing operating costs, significant investment upgrades and development of new accommodation.”
Meanwhile, UCD has decided to increase rents by the maximum 4% each year for the next three years – amounting to 12% rise by 2022.
In a statement, DCU Students Union said it was “outraged” at the hikes.
Union president Christine Farrell said students are “already under huge financial burdens in the midst of the accommodation crisis.”
She said some students are facing long commutes from places like Belfast and the west of Ireland.”
“I can only imagine how many more will be joining them on hours-long commutes from around the country simply to educate themselves, something which is an absolute right and not a privilege of those more fortunate.”