Trinity College had initially announced its plans to “prioritize” students from outside county Dublin when offering accommodation places for the 2020/21 academic year. The move, which was reversed within the course of a day, followed a previous announcement that a cap would be placed on the number of deferrals offered by the university.

The announcement regarding accommodation came in an email to Trinity Scholars who were told that the college had “taken the decision not to allocate rooms to students whose home address is in County Dublin in the first round this year.” The email went on to say the decision was made in “exceptional circumstances and that it is important to create the safest environment possible for everyone who lives and works in College next year.”

Since these reports surfaced from Trinity News, a further announcement was made later on Thursday the 18th, stating that the decision will be reversed.

As UCD students wait for clarity on how the upcoming academic year will be structured and what student accommodation options will be, DCU has announced its accommodation plans. Speaking on NewsTalk this week DCU President Professor Brian MacCraith said “Not all students will be on campus at the same time and for a typical student, they might be on campus for up to two days a week. So, the normal model of student accommodation just wouldn’t work.” The comments were followed by the announcement of a per-night booking system for student accommodation in DCU next year.

UCD has not yet made any announcement regarding plans for on-campus accommodation for the upcoming year. However, the university has stated its plans. In the Irish times, a university spokesperson said they will “follow the Government’s public-health protocols in relation to social distancing, movement and gatherings” and that “the use of online learning platforms will form an important part of classes for the coming trimester.”

The initial decision by Trinity College to prioritize students outside Dublin for on-campus accommodation follows a previous announcement that the university will put a limit on the number of deferrals offered to students. The decision was based on a leaked report from the Higher Education Authority (HEA) spelling out concerns that “a significant” number of students are likely to defer from taking college places this year.

The expected increase in deferrals is anticipated to be as a result of the structure of the upcoming academic year which will see far more online and remote learning. First-year students will also be missing out on the social aspects of college.

After the announcement regarding deferrals, a spokesperson for the college stated that the decision was made to ‘protect’ the following year’s new applicants. The college hopes to “grant as many deferral requests as it can, bearing in mind that a sufficient number of places have to be retained for students who will be applying for admission in 2021.”

UCD has not yet announced plans for either on-campus accommodation or deferrals for the 2020/21 college year. Much of these decisions will be based on the university’s plans to structure the upcoming academic year starting at the end of September.

Conor Patterson, Reporter.