UNIVERSITY College Cork is looking at co-developing accommodation for both students and staff as a way to minimise the impact of housing shortages.
UCC president Professor Patrick O’Shea said the college is thinking 'outside the box' to find affordable, suitable housing for students, young workers and families.
“Accommodation for students, and for people in general, is critical,” he said.
“That continues to be a priority - to support purpose-built, high-quality student housing.
“Many students are occupying houses in residential areas and sometimes, that’s not the optimum solution for everybody,” he added.
“One of the things we’re looking at now is to co-develop student housing with housing for staff members as well.
“So if a staff member comes in and they’re looking for accommodation, this would be the solution.
“These are ideas that we are looking into.
“Students are demanding quality now as do young workers, at affordable prices.
“It’s good to have a mix of students, young people and families in a structured environment."
“Diversity of living and working arrangements is always a good idea.”
Professor O’Shea explained that historically, the provision of student accommodation has not kept up with growing demand.
UCC currently manages five complexes: Victoria Mills, University Hall, Victoria Lodge, Castlewhite Apartments and Mardyke Hall with a total of 1,277 bed spaces.
“If you look at UCC and CIT combined, there are probably around 15,000 students attending these third level institutes that are not living at home,” said Professor O’Shea.
“Meanwhile, there are only around 4,000 purpose-built student beds in the city - that’s a big mismatch.
“It limits the ability to attract students and it affects the quality of their lifestyle because if they have to live very far away and commute, it’s very disruptive,” he added.
“I think it’s one of the most important factors - to have high quality, affordable housing - but that’s true for students and everyone in general.
“Young workers and young families are in the same situation."
UCC recently began clearing the old Crow’s Nest site at Victoria Cross, which will soon be home to around 250 student beds.
“The Crow’s Nest site has been cleared and construction will begin very shortly,” said Professor O’Shea.
“We’re working to keep our costs low to ensure that the prices are low.
“We keep our prices below the commercial rates but we do have to recover our costs,” he added.
“We’re not out to make a profit on it - it’s a different kind of situation.”
It was revealed earlier this year that prices for on-campus accommodation for students at UCC had risen by around 11%.
The Cork university increased costs for Mardyke Hall accommodation by 11.5% for the 2019/2020 academic year - from €5,439 last year to €6,068 this year.
UCC's University Hall saw the second-highest price hike in the country, with an 11.3% increase for a room with a private bathroom and double bed which cost €5,550 last year but €6,179 this year.
A spokesperson for UCC recently explained that on-campus accommodation is “specifically designed for student life”, and includes on-site reception, 24 hour Security, underground private parking, a convenience store and other services and amenities.