University of Limerick criticised over €12.5m spend on student accommodation. 

The University of Limerick (UL) is facing criticism over the purchase of 20 new A-rated residential houses, using non-exchequer funds.  

The new homes, which consist of 80 bedrooms, were bought by the college’s subsidiary, Plassey Trust Company Ltd. 

Each house is estimated to cost upwards of €629,000, which is more than twice the usual rate paid for similar houses in the Limerick area, with the overall cost coming to roughly €12.58m. 

The Rhebogue development, which is located within 2km of the main Castletroy campus, is assigned exclusively to postgraduates, researchers and post-doctorates who require long-term, year-round accommodation and supports active travel to and from campus. 

The Property Price Register data online highlighted that the University paid €11.44m last October for an additional 20 new properties in the Drominbeg Estate in the Rhebogue area. 

The University is now liable for a 10 percent stamp duty on both developments, due to 2021 legislation limiting the number of houses an institutional investor can purchase, without being an approved housing body. 

A UL spokesperson told Limerick Voice: “The houses are operated on a similar basis to UL’s managed residences and the University’s senior leadership has engaged extensively with residents in the Rhebogue area. There has been no negative impact reported to date.”  

“The market is extremely competitive and there is an acute shortage of housing in Limerick and nationally including accommodation for students and staff of the University.” 

The University also stated that the capital costs of the development will be fully recouped over a medium period, given that rental income is being generated by the University subsidiary, which owns and manages UL’s on-campus accommodation. 

Meanwhile, some local residents and students have not reacted positively to the development, mainly because of the level of spending.  

Limerick student Conor Nolan can’t understand the decision: “I know so many students are struggling to find appropriate accommodation, but spending millions on houses for one specific demographic is not solving the problem in the long run. 

“I really think UL needs to sit down and budget their funds in a more useful way in future.”  

Like Conor, local woman Marie Ryan has been left very conflicted: “This money could have been used for so many better things. It could be used to make sure the houses they already have are in good condition for the students residing in them. 

“I honestly cannot understand how the university has money like this to throw away. “ 

Meanwhile, the university is confident that the new development will have a positive outcome: “UL continues to strongly engage with all stakeholders, including Government, to find solutions to the current accommodation crisis. 

“UL has a stated commitment to governance excellence being paramount to continue to shape the future of the institution.” 

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