When Trinity began advertising beds in the €9,000-a-year Kavanagh Court accommodation complex, there were plenty of sceptics. This week, they were proved correct.
Doubts have been raised before – by College itself– over whether private providers hold the key to the accommodation crisis. And while Trinity’s decision to lease Kavanagh Court to students might have been well-intentioned, perhaps those doubts should have been listened to.
Trinity has blamed the loss on the fact that beds only became available in September. Yet this ignores the obvious point: these beds were always going to be too expensive. It didn’t matter when they became available, for the simple fact that the majority of students cannot afford to pay.
It’s perhaps ironic that Trinity might end up short-changed by the deal with Uninest Student Residences, for it’s a feeling students are well used to as they search for accommodation. When the lease was announced over the summer, students were the first to call out the high prices. Now, we have proof that neither domestic nor international students are enthusiastic about stumping up the high costs of rent in some of Dublin’s most expensive private accommodation.
The news should prompt a rethink not just from Trinity, but from a government that has so far been reluctant to commit too much energy to constructing accommodation for students. If anything, it is something of a morality tale for the state of student accommodation in Dublin. More beds are welcome – and desperately needed – but high demand will not mean students can swallow any price.
Trinity, in fairness, has tried to address student concerns. Oisín House is underway and College is currently exploring options in Trinity Hall. But it needs to face up to the fact that this experiment was doomed from the start. Piecemeal options put forward by private developers will never replace affordable, purpose-built accommodation built and run by colleges as a long-term solution.
If the Kavanagh Court debacle proves anything, it’s that colleges can’t get carried away by these companies again. We shouldn’t turn our noses up at these companies – they offer something to students desperate for homes. But let’s take Trinity’s experience as a lesson.