Students who are stuck in on-campus accommodation due to the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions were informed via email on 6th of May that they would be required to pay rent for the summer months if they had not already done so. The email states that “the end date of the Licence to Reside for those currently living in UCD Residences has been extended from the 18th May 2020 to the 25th May 2020, at no additional charge, due to the extended period for the university exams.”
It goes on to say that “we are conscious that some of you who have not already booked for the summer trimester may need to extend your stay for different reasons, for example, ongoing travel restrictions. We will try to accommodate anyone who requests an extension to their accommodation booking. Please note that this may require some residents moving to rooms in different residences.”
Students who wish to extend their license to reside have two options available to them; either extending the whole summer period until 7th August 2020, at a cost of €2002.44, including utilities, or extending their license on a two week rolling basis, at a cost of €378.84, including utilities per two week bloc.
However, students living in on campus accommodation, contacted by The University Observer, took issue with the email. One international student* told the Observer “After paying 12,000 euro a year for my degree, almost another 12,000 euro for my year's expenses and now [I am] being expected to shell out another 2,000 euro in the middle of a pandemic. Since coming to UCD in 2019, I’ve constantly felt that international students are used by the university as milking cows where there’s no thought of student welfare and the sole purpose is to suck all money and dignity out of them. If I could leave my degree right now and go back to my home country, I would but I am stranded.”
Another student who reached out to the University Observer said “I’m from the west of Ireland and cannot put my immuno-compromised family members at risk by travelling home in May. My family cannot fund my studies or living expenses due to their income situation and I have funded myself with the help of student grants since first year. I did not budget to be on campus for summer and I do not have 2,000 euro. How is it fair for my health and my grades for me to be looking for a house in a pandemic and trying to attend viewings during my exams and final essays? I don’t expect a free room - no one does - but neither did I expect to be here for summer and this is a very high price of rent for someone with few options. Not everyone has a family home to go to.”
UCD Students’ Union President Joanna Siewierska, speaking to the University Observer said that she welcomed “the flexibility that UCD has displayed in refunding students who left residences early, and in allowing students to remain in on campus accommodation for the summer months, where they have no other choice as a result of the pandemic.” She added that “While it's reasonable to charge rent for occupying a room, the reality is that rent in UCD accommodation is extremely high and students' circumstances have changed as a result of this pandemic. This creates a significant financial strain for students and their families and the university must respond adequately.”
“Not only did students not plan to remain in such expensive accommodation for the summer months, but many have also lost part time jobs and won't have access to new ones in the current situation. Additionally, many families have also been affected economically by the pandemic, leaving students in a very vulnerable situation.”
“I would urge all students who are remaining in rented accommodation, on and off campus, who cannot return home for health, or travel restriction, or other reasons, to get in contact with their student advisors and access support from UCD. We are in contact with Estates Services and the Student Advisors to ensure that all students are supported through this time.”
UCD did not return request for comment on the concerns raised by students above.
*all students wished to remain anonymous