UNIVERSITY of Limerick’s on-campus accommodation rates have risen by almost 40 percent in the past four years, a price hike which has been described as “unfair” by students.
The university released its 2020/2021 accommodation rates this week ahead of the annual “lottery process”, which thousands of students hoping to attend UL enter in the next few weeks to secure a room.
On average, prices increased by 3.65 percent from last year’s rates at an average of €219.71, while prices have increased by 38.75 percent from 2016/2017 figures - an average of €1682.21 in four years.
A final year student in the University, who lived in one of the on-campus accommodation villages for her first two years of study, told the Limerick Leader that the year-on-year increase is posing a barrier to students.
“I think the price hike this year isn’t fair for students,” she said, “it’s creating a greater barrier for students to go to be able to afford to go to college - it’s not giving everyone an equal chance.
“Are we heading back to the old days where only the mega-rich went to college?”
The student, who now lives in a privately-rented house near the campus, said she “loved” living on-campus during her first year in UL.
“It was easier to make friends especially when moving to a college by myself away from home,” she explained, “the price was expensive but for peace of mind it was just easier to live on campus - moving is already a big deal, but being on campus makes it easier.
“Students need basic, safe, affordable, readily available accommodation. That’s it. Students don’t want the five-star hotel experience for accommodation on-campus, we just need basic facilities at an affordable price. This is what the university should be building, not posh student apartments that nobody can afford.”
The largest increase of the five main on-campus villages was seen in eight-bed apartments in Kilmurry, where a room now costs €5,475.8 for the academic year - an increase of 46 percent from its 2016/2017 figure.
Meanwhile, the most expensive on-campus option is priced at €6890.60 for the academic year, which works out at over €765 per month, for a room in a two-bed apartment in Thomond or Cappavilla on the north campus.
A recent report by Daft.ie showed that a mortgage on a two-bed home in Limerick city is priced at €459 per month on average, while to rent is €1,010 and €904 for a one-bed apartment.
A UL spokesperson said: “University of Limerick (UL) has experienced phenomenal growth in the past 12 years, with an almost 50% increase in student numbers from 11,500 to 16,300 in 2019. The University has consistently acted to adapt to this and to address future growth in providing modern spaces for education and research and further accommodation for students.
“In the past five years, UL has spent €20 million in refurbishment and upgrade costs across all of the on-campus accommodation villages. More than €2.4m will be spent this year and next in further enhancements to existing accommodation services.
“Following significant demand for on-campus accommodation in August 2019, UL has introduced a shared accommodation (twin room) option to add 630 extra beds to the 2,850 already available in the on-campus residences.
“The option for twin (sharing) will be significantly cheaper – in some cases up to 45% cheaper - and offer a reduced price point for on-campus accommodation that has not previously existed. It will also represent some of the cheapest on-campus accommodation in the country.
“Twin room costs will range from €2,800 to €4,250 per person, which includes utilities and UL Sport membership.
“General room rates for on-campus accommodation at UL will increase on average by between 3.5%-4% for the coming academic year,” it was added.
“Operating costs, including the cost of labour, forecasted to grow by over 3% in the coming year, are increasing. In addition the consumer price index for the 12 months to October 2019 for Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels increased by 3.2%.
“Accommodation at UL remains among the most affordable in the country. In Spring 2019, UL’s Campus Accommodation was ranked number one in Ireland for both accommodation quality and cost in the ‘I-Graduate’ international student barometer survey.”