MINISTER FOR HIGHER Education Simon Harris has said he is looking into claims students in Dublin have been told they need to pay on average €3,000 more per year for their accommodation.
Students renting from a private provider in Dublin have been told they now need to pay rent throughout the summer months to keep their rooms, even if they will not be there.
The change means that on average, the students will have to pay over €3,000 more per year to keep their rooms.
In November, students renting from private provider YUGO at itss location in Highfield Park in Dublin were told by email that only 51-week tenancies would be available for the following academic year. This was instead of the standard 40-week lease they previously had.
The situation has been highlighted by Technological University Dublin’s students union, with student union president Brian Jordan saying the situation is “beyond comprehension”.
The cheapest room offered at Highfield Park (a shared twin-room) costs €233 per week or €11,833 in total for the 51 week contract.
However, just eight of the complex’s 402 rooms are twin rooms. The majority of the rooms are standard ensuite rooms with a cost of €290 per week – €14,790 in total for the 51 week contract.
One student who raised the issue with TU Dublin’s student union said that as she and her sister are both third-level students in Dublin her family will now be spending €30,000 a year on student accommodation, not including living expenses or student fees.
Speaking to The Journal Simon Harris said that the vast majority of undergraduate students do not want longer-term leases, despite claims he has read suggesting the contrary.
“I feel very strongly about this. It further shows the need to build our own student accommodation, and why we shouldn’t be so reliant on the private market,” the minister said.
He added: “It makes me more convinced that the change of policy that we got approved for Government about investing taxpayers’ money and building college-owned accommodation is the right approach to take.”
Harris was referring to an announcement made by the Government in October last year of 2,700 affordable student accommodation beds to be built on college campuses across the country under a €434m government-backed construction programme.
TU Dublin student union president Brian Jordan told The Journal that what disgusts the students union is that the Government allowed this situation to happen.
He asked: “How are they able to force students into these contracts, knowing that the majority of students don’t want or need 51 weeks of accommodation?”
“We have students who commute hours each day because they can’t afford accommodation. We have students who work full-time jobs to pay rent because they cannot commute.
“We have students who no longer come to campus because it’s too expensive, and too difficult. They’ve given up,” Jordan said.
Jordan added that it is not fair that students are now expected to pay even more for accommodation that they could barely afford in the first place.
YUGO did not reply to The Journal‘s multiple requests for comment since last week.