We at The University Observer are on the side of the students who, despite many of their absolute best efforts, are time and time again being priced out of studying at UCD. Rent both on and off-campus has been increasing dangerously fast over the past decade. Every year, more and more students from lower income backgrounds are unable to attend UCD as a direct result of the accommodation fees they would incur. Having the luxury of space to construct thousands of purpose built beds should have addressed a large amount of the outcries for affordable student accommodation, but instead, students are being pushed off campus by five-figure accommodation fees that are impossible to justify over the course of a nine month lease.
The staggering and continual increase in accommodation fees across the board is a sign to a larger problem in UCD - similarly seen last trimester with the library struggling to gain funding in order to extend its opening hours - the rapid commercialisation of the University. The term “UCD is not a business”, is one that we have heard many times, but is seemingly just resolutely untrue. UCD is acutely aware of the corners they cut to save costs, and students are the group that suffer the consequences every time.
To see accommodation increases so significant that they begin to act as a barrier to attendance at UCD is telling of the kind of culture UCD management are cultivating for those who are lucky enough to gain student status. UCD is not a private institution; its sole purpose should be to educate and prepare students for their endeavours beyond Belfield. It's only financial concern should be to cover all associated costs successfully enough so that integral pillars of a university, such as a library that need not be operating at limited opening hours because funding won't be allocated.
Accommodation is too often the cause for the increase in pricing across the board, with the University investing in overly lavish and ostentatious accommodation options that are catering toward the few who can afford to pay. Too often in the accommodation discourse are international students made the scapegoat, and are made to take the blame for the construction of lavish accommodation. While UCD is proud to be the home to the many international students who are an integral part of our student body, they should not be pushed into overpriced accommodation, especially when many other parts of their college experience is so underfunded.
We at The University Observer genuinely welcome back the incoming student body, both those returning to campus, and both year groups who are visiting for the first time. The unfortunate reality for all students, however, is that the University will find ways to screw them over, and that their President will not use his influence to advocate for free access to higher education for all. Enjoy your time here, but fight back.