University of Limerick have defended their decision to double-up some single rooms of their on-campus accommodation.
In a statement the university said that the decision was taken "in an attempt to meet unprecedented demand in the shortest possible timeframe amid a national housing crisis."
The university informed students of the decision to introduce the new accommodation options last week which was quickly met with criticism from UL Student Life, the student' union.
In a statement UL Student Life said they were "appalled" at the accommodation situation and that the rooms under proposal were never designed for two people.
“It is very clear that there is not enough accommodation for students at the University of Limerick, with solutions such as the double up of rooms being proposed," said the student's union.
In addition to this it is very clear that both academic and support staff are under immense pressure to meet the demands of the growing numbers of students.
The student's union then called on the university to halt any plans to increase the student population until "adequate infrastructure and services are in place" to cater for those currently enrolled.
The university said that "wider development plans are currently under consideration for new-build on-campus accommodation, however this will take some time to bring to fruition.
"The twin room option deals with the supply deficit while also providing an affordable option to many students."
So the University of Limerick has decided to hike rent rates by 3.5% and force any 2nd & 3rd years who want to live on-campus into really cramped potential unsafe accommodation designed for only one person— Dan (@dan0rrr) February 21, 2020
Thanks for exploiting students guys!
No plans to build any new rooms pic.twitter.com/gpS2uGsgVM
USI president Lorna Fitzpatrick said universities were increasing student numbers without proper planning in place for affordable and suitable accommodation.
Speaking to RTÉ radio's Today with Seán O'Rourke, Fitzpatrick said students will be “forced into taking this accommodation, in cramped conditions, because they can't afford anything else.”
Last year, there was almost 7,200 applications from students for the 2,850 available beds in the on-campus villages. The university said the twin room option will add 630 beds and costs will range from €2,800 to €4,250 per person, including utilities and UL Sport membership.
The university said "the planned twin room development is compliant with Part B of the Functional Requirements of Building Regulations."
It added "some students have requested the twin room option, either because they want to room with a relative or friend, or because it is the most affordable option.
"A pilot programme has also run successfully."
The UL Student Life president Jack Scanlan is meeting Dr. Des Fitzgerald, president of the university today "to highlight the severity of the accommodation crises that is currently affecting students."
The university said in a survey completed in 2019, 76% of students who responded (1,323 in total) said that they were willing to share a room on campus at a cost of between €3,500 and €3,750.
In a survey completed in 2019, 76% of students who responded said that they were willing to share a room on campus at a cost of between €3,500 and €3,750.