Students in Cork have claimed they are being used as “cash cows” for private developers who are charging up to €9,000 a year for a box room.
Students from University College Cork (UCC) and Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) turned out yesterday to protest against both the lack of student accommodation in Cork, and the price of the accommodation that is available.
Student accommodation prices have risen by up to 15 percent in some areas in the last year, with a one new complex on Western Road in Cork set to charge students more than €200 a week.
New legislation, introduced in July, will seek to prevent steep rises in rent paid for purpose-built student accommodation.
However, UCC Students Union President Alan Hayes said students need a solution now.
“Government aren’t actually doing anything, they’re talking about rent caps but we haven’t seen any action,” he said.
“There’s an accommodation crisis where people are paying €8,000 or €9,000 for nine months to stay in a box room.
“Even if the accommodation is nice, families are having to take out loans on top of mortgages to put their children through college and that’s not acceptable,” he added.
“In some cases, students aren’t going to college because the lack of affordable accommodation is restricting where they can go.
“I’ve had students get in touch who said they’d love to go to college in Cork or Dublin but they can’t because of the prices of accommodation here.”
Mr Hayes revealed he is working on a policy to ensure that every first-year student in UCC is given accommodation, which he admits is very difficult.
He added that the lack of affordable accommodation is also impacting international students who are already paying higher fees.
“Students are being used as cash cows by many landlords across Cork,” said Aaron Buckley, President of CIT Students’ Union.
“Some private developers are seeing an opportunity to come in and charge preposterous amounts for accommodation.
“Students can’t afford it,” he added.
“Amnis House saw an opportunity to come in and charge students around €900 for accommodation when there are married couples who aren’t paying that much for a mortgage.” Rent caps and building grants for universities should be rolled out immediately, explained Kelly Coyle, deputy president of UCC SU.
“There are students who are commuting long distances, students who are working full-time jobs or two jobs in some cases, to try to put themselves through college,” she said.
“The saddest part is that some students can’t take their place in college any more, they have to defer it until next year in the hope they can find accommodation then.
“We’re calling for rent caps for accommodation that is already in place and for grants for universities to build their own purpose-built accommodation,” she added.
“We need more affordable accommodation, provided by universities as opposed to private companies who come in, take over the market and exploit students.”