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Republic of Ireland's 'crippling rent crisis' forces students to sleep rough in cars and streets - or share beds with complete strangers

Published 19/06/2015

Concerns that progress in opening up access to higher education - for the working poor - is 'being derailed' because of soaring rent in Dublin. Pictured posed.
Concerns that progress in opening up access to higher education - for the working poor - is 'being derailed' because of soaring rent in Dublin. Pictured posed.

The college and university accommodation crisis in the Republic of Ireland has become ‘so chronic’ that students are being forced to sleep rough, share a bed with strangers – or give up on studying altogether.

The deputy president of the Union of Students in Ireland, Kevin Donoghue, said the problem has become particularly acute in Dublin.

He told the Irish Mirror: “Students are so desperate, they’re not just paying through the nose to share rooms – they’re paying to share a bed with complete strangers. It reached crisis point last year and it’s only getting worse.

“We’ve heard of students sleeping rough; on sofas, floors and in their cars and I have to stress there’s no student in the country that hasn’t been touched by this crisis.

“Commutes – which would once have been considered ridiculous – are now normal, whether that’s by bus, train or car and those who drive often end up sleeping in their car if they’ve an early start the next morning.”

With 165,000 full-time students in the Republic – and that figure expected to increase to around 200,000 within the next 15 years –fears remain that there aren’t enough properties to accommodate current numbers.

Mr Donoghue added: “The lack of places to live is actually forcing school-leavers out of college altogether.

“Either they don’t go in the first place or end up having to drop out because they can’t get a room and commuting is just too expensive, stressful and difficult.”

Claims have emerged from the country that some students have been forced to sleep in cars, or out on the streets, because of the enormous increases to rent in the capital.

Those who have been lucky enough to find a place to live have had to do so ‘blind’ by paying for accommodation, months in advance, they haven’t even seen just so they will have a roof over their head over the coming year.

According to the Irish Independent, it’s the ‘Google effect’ which is to blame.

As Google and other blue-chip companies open offices in and around Dublin’s docklands area, which are ‘on the doorstep of the city’, international professionals have been flocking to the area which will boast 2,600 more apartments, on 50 acres of undeveloped land, over the next three to 10 years.

Rent in the area soared by 15 per cent last year and a two-bedroom apartment overlooking the Grand Canal costs €2,100 (£1,500) per month to rent.

Another two-bedroom apartment at Hanover Dock costs €2,350 (almost £1,700) with a three-bedroom penthouse – measuring some 136 square metres – sits at €4,500 (£3,200) per month in rent.

The Republic's Higher Education Authority admitted this was the first time they had seen circumstances ‘so extreme’ and the Fianna Fáil party leader, Michael Martin, urged on the Government to intervene.

He said: “It is very worrying that all of the progress in opening up access to higher education in the last decade – particularly for the working poor – is being derailed because of an entirely foreseeable accommodation crisis.”

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