Students protesting a proposed rent hike at University College Cork (UCC) occupied the Quad today by pitching several tents and vowing to stay put until the policy is reversed.
The group of students says it plans to continue its protest, day and night, until the university reverses a planned 3% rent increase for college-owned accommodation, due to be introduced in September.
This is the third such rent increase in recent years introduced by the university, according to students. Rents increased by 5% in 2018, and by a further 11% in 2019.
The protesting students are also demanding that rents for all accommodation owned by UCC are frozen for the next three years.
The UCC Students’ Union “simply cannot stand by and support” such dramatic rent increases, according to a statement issued by the union.
“These students are demanding that the 3% rent increase be reversed and that a rent freeze on all UCC-owned accommodation be put in place for a period of three years.
“They do not intend on ceasing their occupation of the Quad until these demands are met.”
A spokesman for UCC said that the university’s campus accommodation rates are significantly below rates provided by private operators.
“UCC has already committed to review the applicability of the 2020/21 increase for students in receipt of student assistance funding,” the spokesman said.
“Campus Accommodation UCC is financially self-sufficient, and receives no State funding towards its efforts to create and maintain high-quality student accommodation at rates below the market average.”
Similar rent increases for the upcoming year have been announced at University College Dublin; Dublin City University; National University of Ireland, Galway; University of Limerick; and Trinity College Dublin. Last week, students at UCD staged a sit-in in protest of what they described as the “commercialisation” of third-level education.
UCD is set to implement a 12% increase in 4% increments over the next three years. The university said this increase is necessary to cover costs of existing on-campus accommodation, and to create more accommodation.