Trinity College is the only large university in Ireland that charges its students to apply for campus accommodation.
Trinity College is the only large university in Ireland that charges its students to apply for campus accommodation. This year, students applying to live on campus or in halls paid approximately €50,000 in application fees alone to the Trinity Accommodation Office. In addition, Trinity campus rates have been increased despite opposing trends in the Dublin property rental market.
Trinity charges €15 to all students – whether they are successful or not – who apply to live in College Residences. According to Administration Officer Anthony Dempsey, the fees pay for ‘the considerable workload and systems involved in the application process.’ Other main universities in Ireland – UCC, UCD, Queens and NUIG – use a similar online application system and do not charge any fee.
When asked what the non-refundable application charge – amounting to approximately €50,000 – paid for this year, Mr. Dempsey said they also ‘support the Accommodation Advisory Service’. This is an information service in the Arts Building that provides listings of available properties for students seeking accommodation. It runs for a five- week period starting from the end of August. UCD runs a similar service from mid-July to mid-August and UCC runs an accommodation office throughout August and September. SU President Cathal Reilly commented “obviously there are administrative costs that have to be paid for but if you do the maths yourself, it’s easy enough to see that €15 per applicant is much more than enough to cover that cost and students shouldn’t be charged as much.”
Students who were successful in applying for college residences this year will pay increased rates for energy and rent. The Dublin property rental market has eased in recent months according to a survey by accommodation website daft.ie. Available properties have doubled while rents have decreased. Rates for Trinity campus accommodation have moved against this trend increasing by 3%. Mr. Dempsey commented ‘While we do take notice of trends in the private sector we do not follow the market directly. When rents were increasing in the private sector in recent years we did not use this as a benchmark to establish our rents. Likewise, we are not following the private sector in the current market conditions.’ The increased rates are used to pay for refurbishment and overhead costs arising from maintaining college residences including the current internal renovations in the Rubrics buildings. Mr. Dempsey noted that the college does not seek to make a profit from student and staff rents.
Last year, a Trinity News survey noted that Trinity students pay over twice as much for energy as students in other Irish universities. This year, energy costs have increased again but only in Front Square – an area of campus residences that does not have central heating.
Mr. Dempsey noted that the Director of Buildings office had reviewed the costs of energy and determined that ‘contributions were below the cost of the utilities consumed.’ Furthermore, a charge for water supplies will be incurred this year.