Students’ Union hits out at new rent rises in Cork; protests a possibility

Students’ Union hits out at new rent rises in Cork; protests a possibility

UCC Students’ Union has criticised the rise in rents for students housed in on-campus accommodation.

The university revealed on Tuesday that there would be a 3% increase in each of its five student residences — Victoria Mills, University Hall, Victoria Lodge, Castlewhite Apartments, and Mardyke Hall — in the 2020/2021 academic year.

A potential protest could be on the cards for Cork students.

It follows a large hike for the previous academic year which saw rents rise between 10% and 11.5% in the same residences.

UCCSU have said that they “fully condemn” the move and that while two student representatives sit on the board, they “vehemently disagreed throughout this process that any such increase should be implemented”.

In a statement, the Students’ Union said: “It’s important when reviewing such proposals that the wider implications are adequately appreciated. This year alone, we witnessed the UCC Student Assistance Fund running out of support funds faster than any recent year, and a Food Bank having to be established in order to support those who are unable to purchase the bare essentials.”

It went on to say that this latest increase would mean that the cost of on-campus accommodation has risen by 19% in just three years.

“Given the national context of a third of students in Ireland facing severe financial problems, this decision by UCC would seem to indicate a chasm of priorities emerging between UCC and its 22,000 students, one that will likely come to a head over the coming weeks,” the statement concludes.

UCC has said that while rents will increase for many students, they will review the applicability of this 3% increase for students in receipt of student assistance funding.

Meanwhile, Solidarity TD Mick Barry slammed the university’s decision.

He said that the price of on-campus accommodation will rise to more than €6,300 a year for some students if the new increases go through.

“The UCC administration increase the rents year-on-year, even though student hardship is on the rise and a student food bank recently had to be set up. Education is a right, not a privilege,” he said.

UCCSU President Ben Dunlea has written an open letter to UCC President Patrick O’Shea in which he highlighted the President’s emphasis on ‘thinking outside the box’ when it comes to housing but says that this increase is anything but.

They’ve demanded a full reversal of the decision, and have called for a rent freeze to be placed on UCC Accommodation for three years.

“Failing such a decision from the Board, UCC Students’ Union will mobilise and prepare for strike action. UCC’s inaction on the matter will most assuredly lead to Students’ Union action,” the letter concluded.

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