Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has this morning criticised rent increases to student accommodation stating that further price increases to student accommodation results in more barriers to students receiving a third level education.
The Cork South-Central TD said;
“Third Level Education, particularly in Dublin, Cork, or any of the major cities, is becoming increasingly out of reach for many families.
“The increasingly unaffordable level of rent for student accommodation is a major factor in this. I am very concerned at news that UCD, DCU, UCC, NUIG, NUIM, UL and TCD are all looking to increase rent in on campus student accommodation by the maximum amount of 12% over the next three years.
“This is against a background of the most expensive tuition fees in the EU; actively excluding those who do not gave the financial means to access education. Rising rents will only exacerbate that. Many students will now wonder how they can afford to live in Dublin, in Cork, Galway, or any of the major cities.
“We recognise that there is a funding crisis for Third Level institutions, however, making it harder for low income students to attend Third level is not a solution, and is unsustainable in the long run. Students will suffer, but so will the institutions from the loss of these students.
“Under the last Government we had Ministers claiming students could use their maintenance grant for rent, or study outside the main cities, in ignorance of the fact that many courses are only available in the major Universities.
“It is that attitude that has led to Third Level Education becoming more and more expensive, and with many secondary school students wondering whether they or their families will be able to afford the costs at all.
“It has also led to the complete failure to deliver on proper funding for third level, and meant no attempt has been made to reduce the cost for students and families.
“It is neither fair nor right that students are burdened with significant costs to stay on campus while studying and is reflective of the current housing crisis more broadly.
“While I understand that universities are attempting to accrue funding due to the gross underfunding of third level institutions by the State, students should not be taken as the easy target for revenue raising.
“In our manifesto, Sinn Féin outlined our solutions to this and committed significant investment in third level institutions; solving the crisis of chronic underfunding and put them on a more sustainable footing; reduce and eventually abolish third level fees; and build affordable student accommodation.
“My party colleague Eoin Ó Broin has yesterday written to the Presidents of UCD, DCU, NUIG, NUM, UL, TCD & UCC requesting meetings to discuss these issues, and Sinn Féin will engage fully with the universities. In Government we will deliver funding for Third Level, and ensure a Third Level education is an option for everyone who wants it, not just those who can afford it.
“We support the USI and protesting students, and urge the universities in question to reconsider this approach, and engage with the students.”