Postgrads dissatisfied with accommodation changes

Image Credit: Mark Carroll

Postgraduate students are unhappy with the increase in rent and change in lease length that occurred over the summer, according to Student’s Union postgraduate officer, Allan Stevenson.

Speaking to The College View, PhD students, who wish to remain anonymous, said they are quite discontent with what has happened with their accommodation. DCU Campus Residences have increased rent for the past two years, and they released a proposal in March about changing the way in which postgraduate accommodation would be appointed.

The proposal was that first year PhD students would receive first preference for on campus accommodation and that instead of receiving a lease that lasted the entirety of their degree, they would need to reapply for a new lease each academic year and were not guaranteed the same room.

However, the postgraduate students were unhappy with this and tried to negotiate with campus residences to alter the arrangement.

“We’ve been negotiating with them for a while. What they did to us is, our license ran until the 17th of August and then they said if you want to apply for accommodation again then they’ll put us in a lottery system where there is no guaranteed accommodation, no chance you’ll get the same room. For people who are under a lot of pressure writing theses, this is quite difficult,” a student doing a phD in English said.

Their negotiations proved to be effective and while they still needed to reapply, they were ensured they would receive the same room. Despite this, they are still dissatisfied about the fact that the rent has increased by 50 euro a month and that they had to leave their homes for two weeks throughout the summer.

“So what we did, we organised negotiations with them and they changed their plan which forced us to leave our homes for two weeks for intense cleaning during which I think they just cleaned the carpet. They didn’t really do two weeks worth of work. Then we pay an extra 50 euro a month now, they raised it from 580 to 630,” he said.

The SU are working alongside the postgraduate residents, Stevenson said. “Although I’m not a resident, I understand their position. The way it seems to them is that the DCU campus residence just wants to make money. They don’t seem to care about the wellbeing of the students and they just want to make money on the matter,” he said.

John Caffrey, the general manager of DCU Campus Residences, said that they have worked with the postgraduates throughout all of these changes, trying to appease both of their wishes.

“We engaged in numerous meetings and updates both with the Students’ Union on behalf of the Postgraduate residents as well as with the Postgraduate representatives themselves before any final decisions were made.  At all times we took on board their views and opinions and did all we could to accommodate their wishes,” he said.

He also defended asking the residents to leave the accommodation for two weeks by detailing the integral maintenance work that occurred during that time, and he explained the reasoning behind the rent increase.

During the last two weeks of August all apartments were deep cleaned and all of the kitchens in Block A were stripped out and replaced with brand new storage space, countertops, tiling, cookers and fridges, with plans in place to repeat this exercise in Block B next August.

“The decision to increase the license fee was taken in line with the increases applied across all of the residences,” he said.

Shauna Bowers

Image Credit: Mark Carroll