The price of on-campus accommodation in DCU is close to fifty per cent higher now than in 2014 according to Cut the Rent.
Back in 2014, Hampstead apartments cost 4,284 euro while College Park apartments were 4,824 euro. They have since increased to 6,327 euro and 7,001 euro respectively.
This is an increase of 47.69 per cent for the former and 45.13 for the latter. Or an annual average increase of 7.735 per cent – which is almost the same as the yearly increase in rent prices in the overall market.
However, the Residential Tenancies Act which was brought in last year only allows student accommodation to be increased by a maximum of four per cent per year. Over the past month, several universities have announced they will be increasing their on-campus by three to four per cent – including DCU.
Back in September, DCU’s Chief Operations Officer Declan Raftery told The College View: “I think it’s a bit unfair we’ve been penalised now with the residential tenancy bill that now our rates are capped despite the fact they’re way below the market rate.”
Last week, DCU Students’ Union (SU) protested outside the U building against the 4 per cent rent increase.
Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó Broin told The College View that is exactly what students’ unions across the country should be doing.
“I think students are right to be angry at the university and right to be angry at the government for failing to address this,” he said.
The Dublin Mid-West TD met with DCU President Brian MacCraith on February 24 to discuss how to fund student accommodation in a way this both “sustainable & affordable”. This is part of a series of meetings he’s having with university presidents.
On his meeting with MacCraith, Ó Broin said: “He was very interested to hear how new financing of social affordable housing is taking place and certainly he indicated a willingness to work with others.”
“Whether all the university presidents take the same view we’ll have to wait and see obviously,” he said. “And even if they were all to embrace some alternatives, ultimately that would require action from the government.”
As for rent strikes, Ó Broin said that they came with a high level of risk. “I think before you get to that level, every avenue needs to be exhausted to try and get a resolution to this.”
The Cut the Rent campaign canvassed for rent strikes back in October. In their most recent statement in regards to DCU, they said they were completely against the “exploitative” increase in rents.
“These increases are simply not fair and act as a barrier to education by locking people out based on their ability to pay, threatening to exclude students from all backgrounds, particularly working class students,” they said.
Ó Broin echoed a similar sentiment. “My concern is that, increasing student fees is the easy option,” he said.
President Brian MacCraith could not respond to The College View in time for publication.
Brendan Fernando Kelly Palenque
Image Credit: Shauna Burdis