Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) has published an open letter calling on College to freeze College accommodation prices.
The letter, published this afternoon, addresses Provost Linda Doyle specifically and calls for a full review of current accommodation pricing structures.
The letter calls for “an immediate freeze on all accommodation rents and utilities for the academic year 2023/2024, to be reviewed and agreed after 2 full academic years”. They note that “Trinity continues to hike on-campus student accommodation prices” and say that “this is unacceptable”.
“Rents need to be reduced — but all we are asking for is an immediate freeze.”
The current cost of accommodation for the academic year in the Graduate Memorial Building, Front Square, Botany Bay, New Square and the Business School is €8,876, or €986.22 per month. Accommodation in Goldsmith Hall and Pearse costs €8,152 and €6,455 respectively.
The newly-completed Printing House Square costs between €6,770 and €8,000 for accommodation between November 1 and May 15. Trinity Hall accommodation costs €5,931 for students in a shared ensuite and €7,267 for students in a single ensuite.
Approximately 2,000 students live in campus accommodation and Trinity Hall.
The letter includes a further five demands. They are calling for “a review of the current pricing structures in Trinity-owned Accommodation”. They say that TCDSU has “reiterated throughout the year to College, there is scope for varying the costs of Trinity accommodation to allow for a more financially diverse group of students to avail of it”.
“The first option, and most ideal scenario, would be that Trinity accommodation prices are reduced across the board. However, even if this option is not possible, alternative methods should be investigated.”
They also highlight a second option saying a “sliding scale of rent prices within each area of accommodation (i.e., within Front Square, within Goldsmith Hall etc.)” could be possible: “Despite the different accommodation types being segmented by price, there is discretion within each accommodation of the different types of rooms available. Within a particular accommodation type a student can receive a variation of accommodation set up (single bed, shared bathroom versus two single beds, ensuite etc.)”
“A sliding scale could be enacted thereby allowing rooms with certain set-ups (single bed, shared bathroom) to be charged at a lesser rate than other rooms (two single beds, ensuite).”
They are also demanding that “cohesive and clear messaging from Trinity College Dublin to incoming and current students” be implemented: “Trinity College Dublin must provide standardised information to all students on the accommodation options available to them.”
TCDSU are also asking College to commit to working “with the students’ union on the USI Cost of College Campaign and government lobbying efforts”. They say that “there are broader areas of concern that require legislative changes and governmental action” and “therefore should be areas of lobbying for the Trinity community as a whole”.
They call on College to be “proactive in its own lobbying efforts to increase public funding for higher education, and to alleviate the cost of living crisis” and highlight the need for a “collaborative approach” on these issues.
“While we will certainly diverge on many issues, we urgently need an action plan as to where the College will strategise transparently and openly with the Students Union.”
Their fifth demand is a “commitment that Trinity’s future housing developments will include the provision of family units”. They note that “Trinity students are a diverse group of people” and “there is a lack in the provision of family units, which needs to be addressed to cater to the needs of all students”.
Finally, they are calling on College to provide a “Trinity Emergency Accommodation Protocol” saying that “we need further supports for students facing immediate homelessness”.
“Due to the lack of streamlined protocol, students can find themselves in precarious situations due to scenarios such as stakeholders not being contactable, becoming urgently homeless outside of standard working hours, if the student lacks a support network in the country.”
They highlight the need for a “standardised protocol” to ensure “the safety of students in extreme circumstances”.
“This may include, but not be limited to, a formal protocol for circulation amongst Trinity services and staff, a specific and centralised point of contact to handle such cases, or an expanded Accommodation Advisory Service with dedicated staff for emergency scenarios.”
The letter also details the cost of living crisis students are currently facing. TCDSU say they “cannot look at the current landscape and say that Trinity College Dublin is acting with the best interests of students and staff at heart”. They have accused College of joining “private student accommodation providers in exploiting the crisis”.
They label current College accommodation prices as “extortionate”, saying that “our community needs an administration that acts with empathy at heart, rather than profit”.
They highlight a letter published by the union on 8 September 2022 that demanded College “act on the housing crisis and enable students to engage in hybrid-learning”. They say that “despite the union’s best efforts in helping students find safe accommodation, [TCDSU] were alarmed at the sheer number of students at risk of dropping out, deferring, arriving in Dublin homeless, or commuting long distances”.
They also say that the TCDSU “President, Education Officer, and Welfare & Equality Officer have continuously raised this issue at University Board, Student Life Committee, and other key decision-making bodies” and they have been “disappointed in College for not prioritising student welfare”.
“How can we be expected to continue our studies in the midst of a cost of living crisis that leaves so many of us far away, homeless, or struggling to pay basic expenses? Housing is a human right.”
TCDSU also pledged to “pursue escalated action” should their demands not be fulfilled: “Escalated action will be taken if we do not receive further correspondence and a commitment to these demands being met by April 1st.”
College has been contacted for comment.