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UCD students protest against on-campus rent increase

Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin is to meet with some colleges over rent increases.

University College Dublin, which has faced criticism over the increasing cost of student accommodation.
University College Dublin, which has faced criticism over the increasing cost of student accommodation.
Image: Shutterstock/haireena

Updated Feb 18th 2020, 12:30 PM

STUDENTS IN UNIVERSITY College Dublin this morning organised a rally calling on the college to reverse an increase in on-campus rents. 

UCD has faced criticism from students for increasing rents for on-campus student accommodation by 12% over the next three years – an increase that would see rents rising to between €8,000 and €9,900 per year over the next three years. 

Under rent-pressure zone legislation, rent increases are capped at 4% each year. Up until last year, this legislation didn’t apply to student accommodation. 

Dozens of students, carrying signs reading “Stop the 12%” protested against the decision.

Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin said that he had written to university presidents to request meetings over proposed rent increases.

“High rents are a barrier to education,” he wrote on Twitter. 

Ó Broin told TheJournal.ie that Trinity College Dublin and Dublin City University have agreed to meet him next week, while both University College Cork and NUI Galway have agreed to meet at some point in the future. 

He is still waiting to hear from UCD, Maynooth University and the University of Limerick. 

Tweet by @UCD Students' Union Source: UCD Students' Union/Twitter

“I welcome the fact that the universities responded so quickly,” he said. 

“While universities are acting in the letter of the law,” Ó Broin added, “no one believes a 12% increase is the right thing for students”. 

Ó Broin said that he understood the “financial reality” facing Irish colleges and said he hoped to discuss “creative and sensible” alternatives to addressing funding issues that didn’t impact negatively on students.  

UCD

“We are outraged by this decision. We will show management that we will not let this happen,” University College Dublin Students’ Union President Joanna Siewierska said in a statement. 

“We are showing the University Management Team that they will not use campus residences as a fundraiser anymore,” she said. 

The students’ union is demanding that the rent increase is stopped and rents decreased. 

It also wants the college to introduce a rental support scheme for students struggling in the private sector.

UCD isn’t the only college set to increase rents. In NUI Galway and Dublin City University, university management has also decided to increase rents by 4%. 

Students’ unions have reacted angrily to the rent hikes. Dublin City University Students’ Union President Christine Farrell said that “students are already under huge financial burdens in the midst of an accommodation crisis”. 

Education, she said, “is an absolute right and not a privilege of those more fortunate”. 

Rising rents for students has been a major concern in recent years, fuelled by the growth of private student accommodation providers. 

Some providers, which advertise “luxury” or “boutique”, charge at least €250 a week in rent. 

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