Longford students left scrambling as rental costs soar

Increase in cost of living causes problems for new and returning students

Jessica Thompson

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Jessica Thompson

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jessica.thompson@longfordleader.ie

Longford students left scrambling as rental costs soar

Accommodation costs have increased for students starting and returning to college.

With Leaving Certificate results and CAO offers looming, and contless students returning to college in September, the hunt is on for college accommodation and the search for somewhere to live is getting tougher and tougher.

According to the Residential Tenancies Board Rent Index, the cost of a three bedroom student property for the first quarter of 2017 ranged from €727 per month in Athlone to over €2,500 in south Dublin.

Students attending Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT) will be facing some of the cheapest rent costs in the country, with lower costs in Sligo and Letterkenny.

Accommodation for students of NUI Galway and GMIT are looking at costs of up to €1,300 per montn. On-campus accommodation for the academic year comes in at €5,425, not including bills.

On-campus accommodation in Dublin universities ranges from €5,560 in DCU to €6,631 in UCD.

And to top off the high prices, finding accommodation is often a race.

“The unaffordable rental sector is forcing students out of college, or to face paying rents beyond their own means of income,” said Longford lady and USI Vice President for Equality and Citizenship, Siona Cahill.

“Rents have gone up over €1,000 a month nationwide. There is now a widening gap between the cost of living and what students who depend on State maintenance grants receive, and a big impact on students without financial support.

“The accommodation shortage has now put students competing with families for housing because they are told they must sign up to a 12-month lease, rather than the nine-month academic year.

“There has been an increase in the development of on-campus accommodation and purpose built accommodation but there has been resistance and opposition from local residents to this.

“We need to shake off this stereotype that students are noisy and reckless, and not pitch one cohort against another for a bed to sleep in.

“This not-in-my-backyard attitude can be dangerous where students can add to a local economy, and have proven time and time again to be active residents in a community.”

To try and solve the crisis, USI are encouraging home-owners to offer up 'digs'-style accommodation, and for students to avail of this.

The scheme allows landlords can lease vacant rooms to students during the college term tax-free up to the value of €14,000 annually, while also benefiting a student in need of a bed.

More on this can be found at homes.usi.ie.

“Students from the Longford and Midlands region all have to organise accommodation unless they are able to attend a local institution like Athlone IT,” Miss Cahill explained.

“The DIT campus life survey only released last week estimated the costs of attending college to be over €12,495 a year in Dublin including rent.

“We have called on the Government to reduce the student contribution fee by at least €250 in this year's budget as we are concerned about spiralling costs for families.

“Councillors in Longford County Council a number of weeks ago showed wide support for a publicly funded model of education for Ireland, which would address the significant costs attached to attending third level,” she concluded.