UCD policy leaves students struggling to find accommodation

First year and international students prioritised at expense of second and third years

Sorcha Pollak talks to student welfare officers to find out what advice they have for students searching for accommodation amid a housing shortage and soaring rents.

 

Students embarking on their second and third year of study at University College Dublin (UCD) are struggling to secure accommodation following the university’s decision to prioritise first year and international students for this year’s housing allocations.

The UCD Student Union has voiced concern that students from outside Dublin may be unable to find housing after the college accommodation review group recommended that “principles of vulnerability and contribution” would prioritise the allocation of rooms to incoming CAO students, access programme students and international students.

UCD Student Union spokesman David Burns said the decision to prioritise certain students was not sustainable, particularly given the recent hike in accommodation prices.

“If they’re revising the allocation policy on the principal of vulnerability how can you justify a price increase,” asked Mr Burns, adding that the cost of student accommodation is set to rise up to 40 per cent this academic year.

The cost of renting a room at Belgrove, a block of apartments on campus, is scheduled to rise from €5,481 to €6,427 in September while off-campus student accommodation in Blackrock is up from €4,091 to €5,746.

When asked about the decision to raise rental prices, Mr Burns said accommodation services cited the need to fund development of student residences.

“We understand they want to expand but we don’t believe this is the most sustainable way forward.”

A representative from the UCD accommodation services was unavailable for comment.

MyHome.ie managing director Angela Keegan says the decision by young professionals to remain in the rental market is making it increasingly difficult for students at all levels to find housing.

“We know by the numbers of homes available to rent that the stock has reduced dramatically in both rental and sale,” said Ms Keegan. “People are being priced out or can’t get into the market which leads to more pressure on the social housing market.”

Ms Keegan says the State is witnessing the first signs of the impact of the Central Bank’s new lending criteria which was introduced in February with potential homebuyers feeling the pressure to show they can afford the property they wish to purchase.

“We saw a lot of transactions in the first part of 2015 and that would lead us to believe there was a rush for first time buyers to complete their transactions under the old scheme.”

The new central bank rules will prevent housing prices from spiralling, says Ms Keegan. However she warns the new lending criteria, which is forcing people to rent for longer, may lock others, including students, “out of the rental sector”.