Outrage over paid student housing after classes move online


Last Friday, September 25, the government came out to say that all third-level institutions and further-education colleges were to move the majority of their courses online for the coming weeks, with as many classes as possible to take place remotely.

Naturally, this left many students and parents alike feeling very hard done by, considering many colleges have already started back, with the remainder due to open this week. Therefore student accommodation would already have been sourced and paid for, which will now go to waste.

Students are being asked to consider whether they need to travel to rented accommodation in light of the new restrictions. However, many feel that this advice is simply too late. 

“This is ridiculous. IT’S TOO LATE,” one woman wrote on Twitter. “Most third level institutions began teaching either last Monday or today. Students required this information at the beginning of August, as they began the annual search for accommodation, not on the day lectures begin,” she added.

“Bit late for this now isn’t it? Do you think students will be able to pull out of accommodation easily? That landlords will just be sound? This is ridiculous,” another woman fumed.

One man commented on the situation, saying, “You have to admire the combined leadership skills that result in students having campus classes cancelled, but timed such that they’ve mostly already travelled to university towns anyway — at great expense — with all the extra social contact that entails. Worst of both worlds!”

“Why wasn’t this statement made in early August, when it would actually have been beneficial? Way too late now, especially since UCC students were told that they would have a mix of both online and on-campus lectures,” another wrote.

Lorna Fitzpatrick, president of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) demonstrated her frustration with the last minute announcement in an interview with The Irish Times, saying, “This decision is coming very late in the day.”

“There are many students who have already started back and thousands more who are due to start on Monday. This adds to what is and has been a very stressful time for many students and their families.”

Recalling the awful situation students were left in at the start of the pandemic, back in March, Fiona said, “Exactly one month ago today, USI called on the Government to introduce six emergency provisions to ensure student renters were not hit by a repeat of what happened in March when colleges and universities closed and deposits and prepaid rent were not returned and students had to fight for on-campus accommodation to be refunded.”

“Now we are already looking at this becoming an issue again for students,” Fiona fears.