A survey of NUI Galway students has found that one in six participants had not found accommodation by 4 September this year – the first day of lectures on campus.
The survey carried out by NUI Galway Students’ Union to uncover the depth of the accommodation crisis in the city was taken by 1,285 students in the last fortnight.
NUI Galway Students’ Union president Lorcán Ó Maoileannaigh told SIN that these new figures give a “real representation” of the issues students are facing in the hunt for college housing.
The survey also showed that one in four partaking students payed cash in hand to their landlords.
The SU President said this “startling statistic” showed that many landlords in the city were not operating above board.
“I think that says a lot, that there are landlords taking advantage of the system, that aren’t abiding by the rules and aren’t abiding the law, and that is something that needs to be stamped out,” he said.
“It should be done with banking information, with receipts, registering with the tenancy board. It should be all above board and if you ask for a receipt, there should be no issue. The landlord should be initiating these kinds of things.
“The problem is students aged 18 or 19 in the private rental market for the first time just don’t know of these things, so the onus is on the landlord to have the sense to provide these essentials.”
Students also indicated in the survey that university obligations such as placement put them at a disadvantage when it came to securing rental accommodation, as the length of lease they required was too short for many landlords.
“The big issue we are seeing for medical students, nursing students and health science students is that when they are on placement, because they need a shorter lease, that it is just not available to them because they are competing with professionals who are looking for a 12 month lease, which is more agreeable to landlords,” explained Lorcán.
“It’s something we hear time and time again, but now we have the figures behind it.”
The survey also indicated the rising prices of rent in the Galway market, with one participant highlighting the fact they had to pay €570 a month for somewhere to stay, excluding utilities.
Lorcán said this was an “extortionate” amount to charge a student in a student city.
“You can compare the rates of Dublin to Galway, and say it’s not so bad, but we are in Galway, the great attraction of it is that it is a student city and you should expect to be able to find accommodation at a reasonable rate – and that is just not happening at the moment,” he said.
According to the survey, 41.9pc of students who took part contributed to or fully paid for their own rent. Lorcán expressed the opinion that this showed how hard students work to “avail of their right to education”.
While Lorcán accepted that NUI Galway were making efforts to provide more accommodation for their students, he argued that this issue was an immediate problem in need of a short term solution.
“We will be sending these results on to representatives; TDs, city councillors and the university. I know the university is building over 900 new beds over the next three years but this is to show that the issue is still there, and a short term solution is needed,” he said.
By Sorcha O’Connor