The Accommodation Crisis Again

There’s an article on the RTÉ website drawing attention to the national crisis in student accommodation. Included in the article is an example of a student at Maynooth:

Clara Battell is heading into her second year of studying Law and Criminology at Maynooth University. The Sligo student and her four friends thought they’d beat the crowd when they started looking for accommodation shortly after Christmas. However, eight months on, they’re still looking.

I checked this morning on and there are just two properties currently available to rent in Maynooth; the rest are miles away and would require the tenant(s) to have a car. One is property is a studio apartment for €1,250 per month (which is way beyond the budget of a typical undergraduate student) and the other a four-bedroom shared house suitable at €3,800 per month. And remember that new students haven’t even started looking yet as this year’s CAO offers are not out until September. Clara Battell might end up having to commute from Sligo:

I’m from Sligo, it’s a three hour train journey and the only option at this stage appears to be commuting. It’s surely not feasible, six hours every day – and you’re not getting the best out of your education if you are travelling so much. We are all a bit stuck really.

Not to mention of course the inability to participate in clubs, societies and other extra-curricular activities. Clara’s situation is by no means atypical. Some brave students may try long-distance commuting this for a week or two, but few will keep it up for the entire academic year when they know how tough it is going to be.

The reality is that a great many students will have to choose between lengthy commutes and skipping lectures. This is particularly bad at Maynooth where the University Management has failed to invest in lecture recording equipment that would at least do something to mitigate the negatives of not being able to attend campus teaching sessions. I can see attendance on campus being very low this forthcoming term, as it was last term. The reality for many students is that they will be stuck at home just like during the lockdown, but without online classes. This was entirely predictable, but little has been done. It’s extremely frustrating for staff as well as students.

I heard this week of a much-needed proposal for a new housing complex including 260 student beds in Maynooth. It’s not on campus, but within walking distance on the other side of the Moyglare Road. This is good news, but the application for planning consent has only just been lodged; a decision is not expected until November 30th. Even if permission is granted it will take years to build and remember that there are 15,000 students in Maynooth so 260 beds is a drop in the ocean.

It is important to stress what is driving this. With costs increasing but income per student falling over many years, third-level institutions have had no choice but to recruit more and more students. The same Government that has driven this requirement is also responsible for inadequate investment in housing across the country. Some people are trying to blame the current crisis on the 48,000 Ukrainian refugees now in Ireland, but all their presence has done is to expose the long-term negligence of the Government at whose door the blame must rest.

It will take at least two years, and probably much longer, to fix this crisis. The big question is whether Ireland’s University system will survive that time without disintegrating.

2 Responses to “The Accommodation Crisis Again”

  1. […] A blog about the Universe, and all that surrounds it « The Accommodation Crisis Again […]

  2. […] of teaching (for returning students on 16th September and for new students on 23rd September). As I have mentioned before that there is a serious student accommodation crisis in Ireland which will probably disrupt the […]

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