Over 75% of residents have left University College Dublin (UCD) since March, according to figures revealed to The College Tribune. Over 2,300 students have officially cancelled their on-campus accommodation with under 750 remaining in place. As of April 23rd, there have been no positive cases of COVID-19 in the residences.
The majority of those who have cancelled their tenancies early are entitled to a pro-rata refund. A university spokesperson has confirmed to the Tribune that “most of these have been processed and the remainder are underway.”
A number of students have also been moved to facilitate their self-isolation on campus. “As you may be aware, we have looked after a number of students who were in self isolation and depending on their living arrangements, some were moved for the duration of their self isolation so that they could be supported by the Residences team, but they are all back in their original rooms now. One student was moved to accommodate these support arrangements.”
On April 22nd, the Tribune received a statement from the university on their progress with handling the situation on-campus. “It is important to record that when many universities across the world were evicting their students when the COVID-19 pandemic broke, UCD gave a commitment to keep residences open, to take care of students who were put into isolation, and to offer accommodation to students who were evicted by private landlords, or whose personal circumstances required accommodation support. […] The President alongside the UMT will continue to take decisions that safeguard UCD students.”
In an email to students on March 19th, Deputy President and Registrar Mark Rogers invited displaced students to move to the residences. “Students who are well and living in rented accommodation off campus who face housing problems because of COVID-19 eg if a landlord requires the property, may now apply for on-campus accommodation.” As of April 23rd, less than ten students availed of this offer. The rent applied to the new arrivals is calculated on a weekly basis.
Phase 1 of the 2,200+ bed masterplan is due to introduce an additional 924 beds for use on-campus from September 2020. Phase 2 would introduce approximately 1,250 more beds to Belfield campus. The new residences are currently due to be completed by 2024. The university has not responded to requests for information on the progress of the new residences on-campus in light of COVID-19 restrictions on the construction industry in Ireland.
In 2006, a room in UCD’s cheapest accommodation block in the Belfield campus cost €3,544 from September to May, with an additional fee of €353 for utilities and insurance. The base fee has increased by 88.57% to €6,683, a raw increase of €3,139. By 2022, the most expensive accommodation facilities will cost over €12,000 for a nine-month tenancy during the academic year.
Conor Capplis – Editor