College has raised nightly rates in its accommodation units by 2% across the board for the forthcoming academic year, in a move which ignores student pleas for a rent freeze on College-owned accommodation.
In March, Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) published an open letter calling on College to freeze College accommodation prices as well as a full review of current accommodation pricing structures.
Instead, College has raised the licence fee on all accommodation units by 2%, the maximum legal increase in a Rent Pressure Zone (RPZ) such as Dublin.
Analysis by Students4Change (S4C) shows that with utility costs remaining the same, campus residents will pay between 1.84% and 1.87% more in total than last year, with the largest increase for Printing House Square double and kingsize rooms, already the most expensive option on campus.
The group also highlighted that all campus accommodation units are above the average rent of €802 for a single bedroom in the city centre, according to the Daft rental report for 2023 Q1 compiled by Professor Ronan Lyons of Trinity’s School of Economics.
S4C member Adam Ó Ceallaigh, who analysed the increase on behalf of the campaign group, said: “Many students are facing into the year ahead without a roof over their heads, commuting unsustainable distances or living in precarious arrangements, all impacting their mental health and academic performance.”
“Access to accommodation is a barrier to education and the trend of [College] raising rents year on year only further exacerbates the issue.”
The ignoring of TCDSU’s demands raises the prospect that the union will pursue “escalated action” as it pledged to do were they not fulfilled, though it was not specific about what form this would take.
In a statement to Trinity News, TCDSU condemned the decision, which was taken by College in June.
“According to their 2022 financial report, Trinity has made 10.5 million euro from on-campus accommodation, yet student services continue to remain underfunded, there are no period products readily available, and the high student-staff ratio means the quality of our education is negatively impacted.”
It added: “Students should not be bearing the brunt of the costs of education, why does Trinity remain complicit in the government’s views to treat education as a luxury, not a right?”
Students renting rooms on campus who spoke to Trinity News expressed their frustration with the decision, which they say shows a failure to support struggling students.
Lara Monahan, a resident of Printing House Square, said: “I think the decision really shows that students aren’t being prioritised. Raising the licence fee as high as they are allowed to when students are still suffering the effects of a cost of living crisis is enough of a sign of this.”
“In a city with this much of a housing crisis, and rent that already empties student pockets, it is cruel to raise the licence fee.”
Another resident of Printing House Square called the increase “ridiculous, especially when College is aware that students are struggling to get affordable accommodation in Dublin already”.
“The options provided by the college themselves should be subsidised ones that work for someone on a student budget; they already weren’t last year so it’s unbelievable that they’re raising them even more.”
They added that while Printing House Square was not their first choice of location due to costing over €10k for 8 months, they felt that they had few other options: “I got a second round offer for Printing House Square, the most expensive room on campus and if I didn’t take it I knew I would be struggling for somewhere to live this year.”
“The fact that the more affordable rooms on campus aren’t given to the students who need them the most doesn’t seem right either,” they added.
TCDSU President László Molnárfi said: “[College] is contributing to the worsening of the housing crisis as they are following a for profit model, this affects all of college, the 2% increase will place additional strain on students already facing financial challenges.”
“We extend our solidarity to staff who are in precarious employment, we will not stand for this blatant disregard for our community values.”
Welfare Officer Aoife Bennett criticised College for compounding the stress of students who are struggling to secure housing.
“As a casework officer, I have seen the distress that the housing crisis has caused students. Instead of alleviating student’s distress, College is directly contributing to it by raising the rent.”
She added that the housing crisis is creating a “two-tiered college experience”: “We have students dropping out of college, couch surfing, sleeping in cars and commuting for hours to get to campus.”