A students pursuit of accommodation in Dublin has never been easy, pharm but this year it is set to reach ‘absolute crisis levels, salve ’ according to the Union of Students Ireland. With almost 80, buy 000 students resident in Dublin taking part in full time higher education and this number only set to rise over the next number of years, student officials are calling for action to ensure that the needs of students can be properly addressed.
In a statement earlier this month, USI president Laura Harmon said that there needed to be moves made by the government to implement a strategy that related specifically to student accommodation, calling student’s a ‘unique group,’
‘There was a 13 per cent rise in incoming students last year. With student numbers in Dublin rising year on year, there is a need for the government to take action. The estimated cost for one student is around €10,000 per year and with accommodation prices rising it’s a real crisis,’ she told the Irish Independent.
“Students are being squeezed out of the private rental accommodation sector so there needs to be an incentive for people to rent to students and some kind of obstacle for people who discriminate against them which is happening unrestrainedly at the moment.”
However despite USI and Student Union influences, with term time nearing closer and closer, many students are still without a solution.
The College Tribune spoke exclusively with two students about their struggle to find a place to stay for the incoming academic year.
2nd year UCD English and Sociology student Ross Walsh a Wexford native, spoke of his struggles trying to procure accommodation close to UCD.
“I’m consistently on the phone enquiring about accommodation, but when landlords find out that you’re a student it makes things even more difficult. Phone calls go unreturned and suddenly places that were only just available are taken,’ he told the Tribune.
While this year the situation for all students is considerably worse, this isn’t the first time that Walsh has encountered this accommodation black hole.
‘Last year I couldn’t get accommodation on campus. Thankfully a friend’s aunt was kind enough to take me in, so I ended up in digs out in Cabinteely,’ he continues.
‘Being so far away from campus was not only costly, with my bus ticket costing €100.00 monthly, on top of rent, but it also made it really hard to integrate. I was constantly leaving activities and social gatherings early to catch the bus, and it made college quite lonely at times. Thankfully in the second semester, just because I was in the right place at the right time, I stumbled across an on campus vacancy on SIS Web and managed to get place in Glenomena. I instantly saw the social improvements living on campus would afford,’
This year, Walsh returning for his second year to UCD was primed and ready to receive a place on campus. ‘I was 9th on the waiting list,’ he tells the Tribune. Confident he would get a place on campus Walsh did not join the throngs of students taking to websites like Daft.ie to search for somewhere to stay.
When asked what he would do if he couldn’t secure somewhere to live before term resumed on the 8th of August, Walsh mentioned that he would have to look into the idea of commuting each day from Wexford, at a total cost of €360.00 per month, and 4 hours a day on the bus.
Another 3rd year student from UCD studying Law, Andrea* told Tribune reporters about her dire need for accommodation.
‘I’m from Mayo originally, and managed to rent the same house in Clonskeagh the past two years in a row, which was ideal for getting to college. I could cycle in and out every day, and I had the benefit of being only a stone’s throw away from UCD’s academic facilities. This year my ex-landlord has raised the rent so much I can no longer afford to pay it, and it appears many other landlords have chosen to do the same,’ she stated.
‘People are praising the rise in house/rent prices as signs of an economic recovery, but seem to totally forget the affect that it’s having on people needing to rent around Dublin. Commuting is not an option for me and I have no family living in the area. I’m facing the prospect of staying at a hostel in town until I find a place that can afford. I’m scared. I’ve never stayed anywhere like that before and you hear all these horror stories about drug use and theft,’ she continued.
‘I studied so hard to get enough points for Law in UCD, and to pass all my exams, but it feels like I’m being punished rather that rewarded for this,’
When the Tribune asked both students if they felt that there was anything more that could be done for student’s by the USI, UCD, and even the Student’s Union, both were extremely sceptical about the power that the institutions had to help.
‘Until property owners decide they want to rent to students, there’s nothing practical any of these people can do for us,’ stated Walsh pragmatically.
Andrea* was critical of the measures taken by the USI and UCDSU however. ‘The SU can call all they want for land lord relief tax and for NAMA to release housing for the student market, but until they actually take a strong stand, in my opinion in the form of a protest, and ensure that the government knows that not taking action on this is not acceptable, nothing will change,’
An immediate conclusion to the accommodation crisis in Dublin remains to be seen, however the need for purpose built student accommodation is beginning to be recognised.
With the conversion of the Montrose Hotel by Zigguart Student Living nearly completed, and 232-bedroom development on Dublin’s Church Street is currently in the planning stages, some semblance of a solution may present itself to students in Andrea and Walsh’s position in the distant future. Real estate firm Knight Frank recently reported their predictions that foreign and Irish investors with make an almost €250 million investment in student property from now until the end of the decade.
*Named changed to protect identity.