College is expected to announce the building of 2,000 student residences over the next five years at Wednesday’s launch of the Strategic Plan 2014-19. Provost Patrick Prendergast named Windmill Lane and Sir John Rogerson’s Quay as possible sites for the accommodation at a question and answer session in the GMB on October 8th. “It will still be some time until we find the right developer to work with,” he added.
But Trinity College Students’ Union (TCDSU) president, Domhnall McGlacken-Byrne, who chaired the session, is sceptical about the fulfilment of these plans. Only the development of Oisin House on Pearse Street has so far been confirmed, he commented after the event.
A large section of Oisin House, which is currently used by the Department of Social Protection, will be converted into 300 student residences. “I’d love to see where the other 1,700 residences are going to come from,” McGlacken-Byrne told Trinity News.
SU welfare officer, Ian Mooney, also expressed his frustration in an interview with this reporter, saying that, while it was positive to see the issue of accommodation being addressed, College had provided “few concrete answers”.
Mooney was involved in the organisation of College’s accommodation advisory service over the summer period, which provides information and advice to students looking for accommodation. 2,000 students have so far availed of the service this year, twice as many as in 2013. Mooney said that “based on that, next year will be just as bad, if not worse.” He also called for greater transparency regarding the current allocation of campus accommodation.
While Mooney welcomed the plans for Oisín House, he noted that the development is not due for completion until 2018-19 and therefore this will have little impact in the short term. McGlacken-Byrne was similarly sceptical regarding the immediate impact of the plans in alleviating the accommodation crisis. “What’s going to be different next summer?” he asked. “I don’t see anything immediate on the horizon,” he added.
McGlacken-Byrne was keen to emphasise that student accommodation should be viewed in line with other student services and its primary aim should be to benefit students and enable them to fulfil their potential. McGlacken-Byrne stated that “the fundamental question” for College with regard to the provision of student residences is whether the purpose is “to benefit students or to raise revenue.”
College currently has approximately 700 student residences at the city centre campus and just over 1,000 places at Trinity Halls, Rathmines. At present, the student population of Trinity College is approximately 17,000.