DCU students are living in fear of their options come September. Will they have a roof over their heads, and if so, by how much is it going to hinder their college experience? For some, the increases in rent in the DCU area will have detrimental effects on their access to higher education.
Accommodation companies have a hit a point where they can no longer slide their extortionately high prices through without being called out on it. Students are protesting and sleeping out. The ongoing Shanowen Shakedown has made national news. On Thursday night, 40 students slept outside Shanowen Halls in protest.
One of these was DCU student Aaron Jones. According to Jones, the aim of the sleep out was to increase publicity in the hope of getting across to Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy, and “get legislation in place to prevent extortion like this”.
Shanowen Square have hiked up the price of their single en suite rooms to €9,095 for the academic year, including the €350 deposit. Not only did they increase the rent, they shortened the length of the contact. What was then €7,340 for the period of September 1st to May 31st, is now 23.9% more expensive for the period of September 10th to May 25th.
This level of increase isn’t new. The rent for the academic year 2016/17 was €6,520 which increased by 11.2% for the period of 2017/18. These fees are increasingly extortionate and unrealistic for students.
The student accommodation companies have bypassed the standard rent increase cap of 4% that typically applies to all privately rented housing. They can get by this because they have a licensing agreement and not a tenancy agreement.
“In my opinion, with three weeks left of college and an abortion referendum coming up, Shanowen will probably stay quiet and hope this dies down which is a big problem… But if we never protest we never know! Maybe this will go through to the minister,” said Jones.
We won’t stop until we we get what we want. We want a complete reversal of these increases and proper legislation to stop increases of 27% from being a possibility. #ShanowenShakedown pic.twitter.com/0GdUsDGep2
— DCU Students' Union (@DCUSU) March 29, 2018
“SU reps are down meeting with TDs now to try gain more support as we speak… and it was tough going, once it hit around 4 am everybody started to hit the hay, and when you stop moving the cold seeps into your body. I was wearing a decent ski jacket, hat, three warm layers underneath, a duvet and people all around me yet I was still frozen at points… nonetheless though it was an experience.”
Students are now being forced to look for other options. Many students already opt for digs – staying in the spare room of someone in the local area – which is usually cheaper than student accommodation. It can be expected that the number of student seeking out digs will increase, however, in order to facilitate this, the local communities will need to expand their support.
Many students already work part time while studying full time. Because the cost of living in Dublin for students is facing a substantial rise in September, many will have to take on more hours just to be able to live in the Dublin area. This in turn has a high chance of hindering their studies.
If you thought #ShanowenShakedown will just disappear. As we have said before this is just the beginning. We have a brand new team starting in June just as energised to fight the good fight. #ShanowenSleepout pic.twitter.com/tOXyxKLzZh
— DCU Students' Union (@DCUSU) April 9, 2018
Despite the rational fear that students from all corners of the country are feeling right now, here are some saving graces expected in the Dublin area. Lidl are building student apartments in Ballymun that will provide 364 beds.
“As we look at the plans now, we’re going to deliver in excess of about 1,500 more student bed places than were originally in the plans for student accommodation,” said Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy.
Pressure is being put on the Minister to deliver affordable housing for students. President of DCU Professor Brian MacCraith has called on the government to intervene and regulate private student accommodation. MacCraith warned that exploiting students in this way would create barriers to education.
Still here? Check this out: A Quiet Place: Review