UCD Students’ Union President Ruairí Power has voiced support for student housing demonstrations carried out by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) last week. This follows a protest organised by USI outside Dáil Eireann on Thursday 23rd of September, protesting the price and availability of student accommodation.
In an email received by The College Tribune, Power outlines intentions to work with USI in response to the student housing crisis. “The scale of the crisis requires a coordinated response, there’s a clear responsibility for both unions to work together here.”
Power further highlights a number of required measures to tackle the student housing crisis. Among these, Power calls for increased supply of affordable student housing, the introduction of a vacant property and dereliction tax and an emergency 3-year ban on rent hikes. In addition, Power condemns the use of purpose-built student accommodation for tourism or short-term accommodation, calling for a prohibition on such practices.
Currently, on-campus accommodation in UCD ranges between €830-€1,323 per month, with the newest additions (UCD Village) costing north of €14,000 per year. While recognising that the stock of student accommodation has increased, Power emphasises that the nature (and associated price) of the majority of these new units is a key issue. “We agree that there’s a
need for increased supply, but equally, the luxury style of accommodation being constructed is an issue.”
Power further criticises past and present government approaches to student accommodation in Ireland. “In the 2017 student accommodation strategy, Fine Gael handed UCD and other universities a blank cheque to construct extortionately expensive accommodation. Since then, the state has subsidised housing discrimination on our campuses.”
Power posits further that the current ‘Housing for All’ plan is “light on detail” when addressing student accommodation. Under the current plan, the government resolves to continue the development of purpose-built student accommodation by universities, in order to “alleviate pressure on the private rental market”. There is no mention of the affordability of these purpose-built units, nor does the document mention the gross scarcity of affordable units for students in general.
Lorcan Kelly – Reporter