Planned rent increases remain on the cards at University College Cork (UCC), with students continuing to ask the university to consider reversing its stance on the matter.
In February, students pitched tents on the UCC quad and vowed to stay put until the university backed down on the planned 3% hike in campus accommodation rates.
They also called on the college to introduce a three-year rent freeze.
The UCC student union (UCC SU) argued that the proposed 3% increase would be the third such yearly increase to be introduced by the university, and placed an unfair financial burden on students.
The increase followed a hike of between 10-11.5% in 2019.
The protest grew to 30 tents, with students remaining camped out until the two groups agreed to mediation talks at the beginning of March. Shortly afterward, UCC closed its campuses due to Covid-19.
The incoming UCC SU is now waiting for an update from UCC management, UCC welfare officer Jamie Fraiser confirmed.
“Cork is a rent pressure zone which means that rent is supposed to be capped annually at 4%, but we have seen the rents for campus accommodation instead increase very quickly,” he said.
The UCC SU is expecting that many more students will be under financial strain this year due to the impact of Covid-19, he added.
We would consider an increase to be a barrier to students entering further education because it does make it extremely difficult for students who are struggling financially.
“If increases are introduced, we will be taking a very strong stance against them in the UCC SU, just like our predecessors.”
UCC had not responded to inquiries put to it by the Irish Examiner.
A spokesman for the university previously said the planned increases were due to major refurbishing work, the rise in security and maintenance costs, and to provide additional accommodation for students.
All income generated by UCC campus accommodation is exclusively used by the company to meet such cost, he said.
UCC has five accommodation complexes.
It is in the process of building a new student development on the site of the former Crow's Nest bar in Victoria Cross, which will include an additional 255 student beds.