Over 400 NUI Galway students marched in protest of escalating rent rates today 8 May, as management at Cúirt na Coiribe student accommodation recently revealed plans to introduce rent increases of up to €1000 for the upcoming academic year of 2018/2019.
The protest outside the student accommodation complex was organised by NUI Galway Students’ Union who are determined to fight this 18pc increase alongside the affected students, many of whom had just started their first week of summer exams when the news of the increase broke.
The massive crowd that gathered outside were protesting “the exploitation of students”, not only by Cúirt na Coiribe but on the rental market as a whole. The students believe this increase in rent is taking advantage of students in a vulnerable state while under increasing financial pressures. With deposits due on Wednesday, protesting students stood in unity with the common goal of pressuring Cúirt na Coiribe to retract their fee hike before then.
The protest was covered by RTÉ News. NUI Galway Students’ Union stated that all they are asking for is affordable accommodation for all students.
At the protest, many students were eager to share their thoughts and opinions on the situation:
Alison Levy, a second-year science student pointed out that “if student accommodation raises their prices, there is nothing stopping private owners from raising theirs.”
Meanwhile another student Kelvin Gallagher told SIN that he would not be able to afford the new rent rate.
“I lived in Cúirt last year and I’m actually still in the process of paying back the loan I took out to live there. There is no way that I could afford to live here again with this price increase,” he said.
Second-year student Mark Graydon believed the “ridiculous” move by Cúirt was prying on already-desperate students.
“They know they can make the students pay it [the extra €1000] and they know that they can exploit them on the basis that there is a housing crisis, they could increase it by another 2000 and students would be desperate enough to pay it. It’s ridiculous and they know they can get away with it,” he said.
Another protester Andrew Manning told SIN that “on top of college fees, books, stationary, food and travel expenses, the cost of living in Cúirt is just too much.”
NUI Galway Students’ Union president Lorcán Ó Maoileannaigh spoke out on the issue in front of the gathered protesting crowd.
“Cúirt na Coiribe know that what they’re doing is wrong. It’s happening in DCU, it’s happening in NUIG, it won’t be long before it’s in UCC, UCD and everywhere else around the country. If we don’t take a stand now, then, when will we?”
Lorcán said that he believed “education is a right and not a privilege, but with these rent increases education will become a privilege.”
SIN contacted Cúirt na Coiribe through their Facebook page for a response to the protest but are yet to receive a response.
By Tarryn McGuire