IRISH third-level students are paying more for on-campus accommodation than their British counterparts – and the high cost is a barrier to full participation in third-level education for some students, new research has found.

n analysis of the cheapest purpose-built accommodation available showed that Irish students could save €400 a year on the cost of somewhere to live if they chose to study in Northern Ireland or elsewhere in Britain, instead of in the Republic of Ireland.

The study, by NUI Galway, compared price and availability of university-provided student accommodation in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England, as well as some other European universities.

The research found that student living offered by Irish universities is relatively costly compared to universities in Northern Ireland and other European cities.

The average cost of the cheapest room in Irish university accommodation is €5,451, whereas in the UK it is €5,025, a difference of €426.

UCD’s Roebuck Castle accommodation is the most expensive in Ireland, charging €10,720 for the full academic year of 37 weeks for a single en-suite bedroom.

Mary Immaculate College in Limerick offers the cheapest university accommodation in Ireland. For €3,882 a year, a student will get a twin occupancy bedroom with a shared bathroom.

Rent levels vary widely across Irish universities, but overall, Maynooth University offers the lowest accommodation rates for a single bedroom with a shared bathroom, charging €121.30 per week, or €4,488 for the year.

In Mary Immaculate College and the University of Limerick, a single bedroom with shared bathroom has a weekly rate of €132 and €133 respectively, while at NUI Galway and University College Cork (UCC), this room-type costs €146 and €152, respectively.

In the Dublin Universities of DCU, Trinity College and UCD, the weekly rate for this accommodation type is set at €157, €169, and €182, respectively.

The lowest rate in the UK is the University of Aberdeen student accommodation, which costs €3,940 for the academic year, or €106 per week.

The University of London offers the most expensive accommodation rates in the UK – with its lowest rate set at €197 (£167) per week for a small single bedroom with a shared bathroom.

Following the University of Aberdeen (€106), the most affordable accommodation in the UK can be found in the University of Aberystwyth in Wales (€113) and University of Ulster (€114). Queens University Belfast offers accommodation for €130 per week.

This research conducted by Áine Dillon, BCL law student, and Professor Padraic Kenna at the Centre for Housing Law, Rights and Policy, NUI Galway over the past year, found that single-occupancy rooms make up less than half the accommodation provided by Irish universities.

Shared-occupancy rooms are available in many universities but most commonly in NUI Galway and University College Cork.

“It is a surprising finding that rents for university-provided, purpose-built student accommodation are so high in Ireland. These could rise even further due to current development costs,” Professor Kenna said.

“Without a capital subsidy to the university providers, it will be increasingly difficult to provide affordable new student accommodation. With that in mind, our report recommends the establishment of student housing associations (approved housing bodies) to provide affordable student accommodation.”

The research noted that the cost and extent of purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) is of major concern to students’ unions and prospective students. They say it acts as a barrier to full participation from potential students, including those with disabilities, as well as some international students.

The development of high-cost, private, tax-relief driven, investor-led PBSA is driving higher rents and lowering space and accommodation standards, the report’s authors concluded.

The report advocates for low-cost, socially inclusive, disability friendly, digitally advanced, student housing.

Access to affordable and good-quality PBSA is a significant public interest issue, and one which will be highlighted as the new technological universities in Ireland begin to provide student accommodation, the authors said.

Yearly cost of university-provided student accommodation

University College Dublin

Most Expensive: Single en-suite bedroom €10,720

Cheapest: Single bedroom with a shared bathroom €6,729

Trinity College Dublin

Most Expensive: Single bedroom en-suite €9,805

Cheapest: Twin occupancy shared bathroom €6,161

Dublin City University

Most Expensive: Superior bedroom en-suite €7,008

Cheapest: Single room with shared bathroom €5,796

University College Cork

Most Expensive: Double bedroom en-suite €6,364

Cheapest: Single bedroom with a shared bathroom €5,624

University of Limerick

Most Expensive: Single en-suite €7,140

Cheapest: Single bedroom, shared bathroom €4,913

Maynooth University

Most Expensive: Single bedroom en-suite €5,988

Cheapest: Single bedroom shared bathroom €4,488

NUI Galway

Most Expensive: Double bedroom en-suite €7,050

Cheapest: Twin occupancy shared bathroom €4,005

Mary Immaculate College, Limerick

Most Expensive: Deluxe single bedroom, shared bathroom €5,236

Cheapest: Twin bedroom, shared bathroom €3,882


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