Dublin City University students are staging a sleep-out and protest at a proposed 27% increase in rents at off- campus accommodation.

Around 600 students who currently live in the Shanowen student residences in Santry, north Dublin had been paying approximately €7,000 in rent for an academic year.

However, last week they were informed that from September, that fee will rise to €9,000 for a nine-month lease in an en-suite room with shared facilities. 

DCU President Brian McCraith said the demand for student accommodation meant that in some cases students were being exploited.

Professor McCraith described this as "unacceptable" and said it will lead to barriers to education for lower income families. 

He said the problem was escalating out of control and called on policy makers to work with universities to provide more sustainable long-term solutions for student accommodation.

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Student accommodation providers generally use a licensing system rather than traditional tenancy agreements, which means they are not subject to the same restrictions in rent increases that apply to other landlords in the Dublin area. 

DCU Students Union President Niall Behan said that students are considering dropping out of college or commuting long distances as a result of the increases. 

He described the 27% increase as a disgrace and said such rises need to be stamped out. 

He said students would be spending the night in sleeping bags outside the residences to mirror what he said will happen if rent rises were allowed to continue. 

DCU SU Vice President for Welfare and Equality Podge Henry said when his sister lived in the accommodation four years ago she was paying just under €5,000 euro for an academic year. 

He said the cost of living in these residences was now three times the cost of the annual college fees. 

The owners of the Shanowen Residences have yet to respond to queries from RTÉ News

A spokesman for the Minister for Housing said Government officials are currently examining how protections for students living in purpose-built accommodation can be improved.