Students Against Fees decide to campaign against the housing crisis

The direction of the grassroots movement was decided tonight at a public meeting

Bill Walsh speaking at the Synge Theatre.

Students Against Fees (SAF) decided to expand their campaign to include the housing crisis at a public meeting held in the Synge theatre in the Arts Building this evening.

Nearly 30 students discussed the recent developments in student housing at the meeting as well as making points on how to progress the campaign.

“The cost of housing far exceeds the cost of fees and people from Dublin sometimes forget that,” said Bill Walsh, an attendee at the meeting.

Meanwhile, Conor Reddy, a member of the group, spoke about the scope of the housing crisis. “Squalid conditions, overcrowding – this is where you can’t micromanage problems that just Trinity students face”.

Attendees broadly agreed that the campaign should start locally before widening their cope nationally.

Dublin City Council passed a motion in September  stating that property developers must ensure there is not an “overconcentration” of student housing within a 1km area; the council increased this from a previous radius of 250m.

Colm O’Halloran, Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (AHSS) Faculty Convenor, said that “housing would be a good issue to attract international students to this grassroots movement”.

Recent moves by College attracted ire. Speaking on College’s decision to partner with Kavanagh Court, Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) President Kevin Keane said: “Trinity will not be going down that route again in the near future.”

The allocation of places within College owned accommodation also came under criticism. Oisin Vince Coulter, a member of the group, said that the group should put “pressure on college on how they distribute their housing stock.”

The University Times reported on Friday that College will rent out places to non-Trinity students in Trinity Hall during term-time, a move criticised at the meeting.  

At the end of the meeting, Keane confirmed there will be an increase in fees for all postgraduate and non-EU undergraduate students.

TCDSU are mandated to campaign for free third-level education following a motion brought forward by SAF, and seconded by then President Kieran McNulty, that was passed at a SU Council in January of this year.

SAF was established in November 2015, when the SU Council rejected a motion by then TCDSU President Lynn Ruane that opposed the imposition of student loans and fee increases.

The Cassells Report, prepared over two years by the Expert Group on Future Funding for Higher Education, was published in July 2016. The aim of the report was to find a solution for the funding crisis to third-level institutions.

The report proposed three solutions: raise State funding of all third-level institutions from 64% to roughly 80%, while abolishing student fees entirely; retain the current €3,000 fee with a lesser rise in state contribution (64% to 72%); impose an income-contingent loan scheme while reducing the state’s overall contribution to between 55% and 60%.

The government budget for 2018 will be announced this Tuesday, with opposition parties releasing their proposed budgets this week.

Niamh Lynch contributed reporting to this piece. 

Niamh Lynch

Niamh was Editor of the 65th volume of Trinity News. She is a History and Politics graduate.