Students’ union pleads with homeowners to make spare rooms available this September

The union said some students have been forced to defer their course because they can not find affordable accommodation.

UCD STUDENTS’ UNION (UCDSU) has launched a ‘Digs Drive’, asking homeowners in Dublin to make spare rooms available to students this September and for the 2022/23 academic year, if they are in a position to do so.

The union, which represents more than 33,000 students said the failure of successive governments to address the shortage of student accommodation “has created a higher education catastrophe”. 

It said some students are being forced to take a leave of absence or defer their course because they can not find suitable accommodation while others are taking on “significant debt” to pay their rent. 

A survey by the union last year found a quarter of respondents who commute were travelling over an hour both ways to get to college. Some reported making a four-hour round trip every day. 

In response, UCDSU has arranged for a mass leaflet drop to homes in areas close to the university’s campus and those well-connected by public transport. 

UCDSU President Molly Greenough said they are urging homeowners to consider housing a student under the Rent-a-Room Relief scheme.

“A safe, affordable roof over a student’s head will empower them to excel in their academic pursuits, get involved with social life, and develop into people who can contribute to Irish society,” she said.

Greenough said the union is also calling for a meaningful cut to the Student Contribution Charge this year. 

“Putting money directly back into the pockets of students and their families represents the most appropriate emergency measure,” she said.

“A cut of just €500 would only cover about a fortnight’s rent with an overwhelming majority of purpose built student accommodation providers. We would like to see the Minister go much further and make a meaningful cut, allowing students to decide for themselves how to make the best of a really bad situation.”

Last week the students’ union at NUI Galway warned students to exercise caution before committing to accommodation as scammers may be seeking to take advantage of the current supply shortage.

It also advised students to ensure the property fits the needs of all tenants before “rushing to sign a lease”. 

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