Residents call for levy on college students to pay for street security

Under-siege residents living near two of Ireland’s largest third-level colleges have called for a levy to be imposed on students to cover the costs of on-street security.

The proposal is one of several from the Cork University District Residents Forum in a bid to crackdown on drink-fuelled antisocial student behaviour around University College Cork and Cork Institute of Technology.

The forum met last week to discuss the problem and it agreed to propose a student levy of between €3 and €5 to support the provision of an on-street security presence during the college term.

Forum spokesman Barry Keane said the service should be centred on College Rd, Gilabbey St and Sharman Crawford St around UCC, and on Melbourn Rd, Model Farm Rd and Bishopstown Rd around CIT.

The proposal will now be the subject of negotiations between the residents’ forum, college authorities, and gardaí.

The forum also wants to meet with CIT Students Union and the institute’s accommodation office to set up a proper complaints procedure modelled on the same procedure already in place at UCC.

The forum wants to meet with city councillors in the South West Ward and South Centre Ward to discuss the possibility of rearranging bin collection schedules in the university districts from Mondays and Fridays to the middle days in the week.

And the forum has also agreed to work with the Revenue Commissioners to target unregistered landlords on a street by street basis.

The possibility of a residents’ protest on both colleges if the situation doesn’t improve, and a residents’ blockade of Magazine Rd to prevent late-night taxi access were also discussed.

UCC has introduced a new complaints procedure for residents affecting by the behaviour from student properties.

On receipt of a written complaint, UCC now checks that the house at the centre of a complaint contains UCC-registered students.

It has undertaken to write to both the college address and the home address of the student with a warning as to future conduct.

If there is a second complaint against the same house, then the occupants will be automatically subject to disciplinary procedures, which include fines, suspension, and expulsion.

The college processed 28 such complaints last year and there was no re-offence.

And all new student leases allow Garda access to houses, and students sign a contract with UCC to agree to keep an orderly house and be of good behaviour.

Loss of income

* The Cork economy could lose over €33m over the next four years if college fees are increased and maintenance grants are cut.

The stark warning comes from the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), which will discuss the issue at a public meeting in the city tonight.

There are 12,578 undergraduate students in UCC and 6,000 in CIT.

Just over 26% (3,295) of UCC students are in receipt of a maintenance grant, while the rest (9,283) pay full fees.

In CIT, just over 60% of students (3,612) get a grant while the rest pay full fees.

The USI has calculated the effect of a fees hike and a grant reduction on each student spread over a four-year college term.

It says the loss of income to UCC students would be in the order of €25m, while at CIT it would be just over €8m.

USI president John Logue said: “These figures illustrate how cuts to third-level funding have a hugely detrimental effect on local economies.

“The hardship caused by fee increases and grant cuts isn’t isolated to students and their families — it effects the entire community.

“The thousands of students who populate college towns sustain business both large and small.

“Landlords, shop owners and other business proprietors rely on these students to maintain a healthy turnover.”

Education Minister Ruairí Quinn, who has already increased fees by €250, has said he intends do the same this year and every year until 2015, when fees will be €3,000.

* Tonight’s meeting takes place in the Imperial Hotel, South Mall, at 8pm.

Eoin English

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