A Deep Dive: USI To Protest Government’s Handling of Student Accommodation Crisis

Thousands of students across Ireland are struggling to attend college classes due to long commutes and no accommodation – the Union of Students in Ireland wants to change this.

Whether you’re a first year or postgrad, lack of student accommodation is an issue everyone in third level education is facing. With not enough college provided beds available for the vast – and rising – number of students attending, it’s a seemingly endless cycle.

The University of Limerick has approximately 18,000 students currently in attendance, but there is only room in college accommodation for 2,000. This creates a demand exceeding supply, leaving students stressed and desperate – and most importantly, vulnerable.

James Nolan, a second year business student in UL, didn’t receive accommodation until two weeks after the semester had started. “I only received my accommodation offer on September 23 and had to move in the next day,” Nolan revealed. “I was commuting multiple hours each day to get to class before that and it was becoming incredibly cost intensive.”

This is becoming a common rhetoric amongst most students facing increased costs and extensive travelling to get to their classes. This stress is doubled by the increasingly difficult search to find student friendly private rentals. 

Fourth year Arts student, Luke Cullen, commented: “I found it incredibly difficult to find accommodation for the autumn semester, I had lost my original planned accommodation due to unforeseen circumstances so I was panicking to find somewhere.”

“There is obviously nowhere near enough places on campus for students and some of the rents/rules for tenancy off campus in private renting are unruly in my opinion,” Cullen added.

University accommodation has been an ever-rising issue over the past few years, and will most likely continue on this trajectory going forward without some government action changing the course.

Image from on Instagram

The Union of Students in Ireland have called for this action from the government.

In a press release published on September 29, USI announced they will march to the Dáil on October 4 to demand the government uses its €65 billion “rainy day” fund to tackle the student accommodation crisis and soaring costs associated with college attendance.

According to USI, it’s “raining now” for third-level students who are suffering financial hardship or dropping out of college due to the lack of affordable student accommodation and other costs.

Last week, the USI sent every TD and senator was sent a copy of their Pre-Budget submission, which includes a call for 30,000 new student beds, along with free public transport for students, plus a wide range of other cost solutions.

USI and Students’ Unions all over Ireland are calling for students to march with them on Wednesday, October 4, sending a message to politicians that they “either support them now or face them at the ballot box in the next local and general elections.”

USI President, Chris Clifford, commented on the planned march, saying: “Ireland’s budget surplus is expected to reach €65 billion in the next two years. It’s inexcusable that students couch-surf, commute long distances, and have no hope of a future in Ireland while government has the capacity to fund that future. A long-term investment in the unstable higher education sector is an option for government right now. Finance can no longer be used as the excuse, but rather it’s down to the priorities of our politicians.

“Students and other sectors of Irish society are in crisis now. Government talks about having a reserve ‘rainy day’ fund, but we are drowning. Or will it just be a ‘rainy day’ for Government when the banks need bailing out again?”

Read the USI pre-budget submission – here.

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