Fiona Gribben | Senior Staff Writer
The College’s Finance Committee made the decision on March 18 to increase the charge for College accommodation by 4% for the next academic year. The new increase will apply to all student accommodation, including Trinity Hall – the majority of which rooms cater for incoming first year students. This is the second year in a row that the cost of College accommodation has risen.
The Director of Commercialisation in Trinity reportedly suggested a more dramatic increase of 11% but this was rejected by the Committee.
A statement from the college explained: “The increase is due to costs in relation to the provision and refurbishment of student accommodation. These additional costs include the introduction of property tax and the refurbishment of student accommodation, including houses 38 and 40 which provide 30 bedrooms. The current increase will be used to defray those costs.”
Last year the rental charge for Trinity College accommodation increased by 3.7%. According to the statement from College, the majority of the increase was related to the impact of the property tax which was introduced in the Finance Act of 2012. Prior to this, the last increase of 4% applied to charges for the academic year 2010/11.
Speaking to The University Times on the issue, Students’ Union President Tom Lenihan said: “I disagree with the decision as it represents yet another hit this year against students. It is a cynical move that has been made simply because we are in an accommodation crisis in the city and College feel they can exploit that.”
Lenihan refers to successive contentious decisions made this year by College including a cut to the amount of funds allocated to capitated bodies in College and the decision to house third-year incoming scholars in Trinity Hall.
The beginning of this academic year was fraught with anxiety for many students as an unprecedented accommodation crisis hit Dublin.
According to a Daft.ie rental report, released at the end of summer 2013, the number of available properties in Dublin had fallen from 4,212 in 2012 to 2,394; a decrease of 43% in one year. Many students were forced to couch-surf for a number of weeks until suitable accommodation could be found, often paying exorbitant fees disproportionate to the property rented.
Currently the cost of on-campus accommodation is between approximately €4074 and €4874. This will now rise to between €4237 and €5069. A student would have to pay between roughly €4025 and €5250 to stay in Trinity Hall; this will increase next year to between €4186 and €5460, depending on the room type. In the last two years College accommodation has risen on average by €175.
The decision follows another unpopular announcement made by College in February, in which the accommodation rights of Scholars were targeted. The majority of on-campus accommodation has traditionally been allotted to final-year students or scholars; however The University Times learned of a decision made earlier this year by Provost Prendergast to house all newly-elected third-year Scholars in rooms in Trinity Hall. The decision was reportedly made without any committee based procedure, bypassing the Working Group on Residential Accommodation, nor was the Scholars’ Committee consulted on the matter.
The Finance Committee is a principal committee of the Board of the College, responsible for all matters relating to the financial affairs of Trinity encompassing the areas of strategic financial planning and policy related issues. Its chair is the Provost, Patrick Prendergast and other members include the Vice-Provost, the President of the Students’ Union and an accountant from the Treasurer’s Office.
Photo by Andrew Murphy