By Sinéad Walsh
It’s 8.59am. You wait with bated breath for the link to go live at 9am. The seconds ticking by feel like years. Then, that much anticipated moment finally comes, and you feverishly click the application link. You watch the pixels of the loading bar move lifelessly across the screen. Next you see the application queue; you’re applicant 3400 of 3400, it’s going to be a long day.
Most of us have experienced a situation such as this at least once – whether booking accommodation, concert tickets, or some other highly anticipated online purchase.
More than 3500 prospective NUI Galway students experienced exactly this recently as they attempted to secure their on-campus accommodation for the next academic year.
The NUI Galway student accommodation booking system has faced widespread criticism over the years, with last year’s hopeful students being faced with tedious applications during the stress of Leaving Cert mocks. This year has been no different. Due to the mass amount of traffic on the site the morning of applications, students faced a continuously crashing webpage, with some student’s applications rebooting and taking them further behind in the queue of applications.
Aspiring NUI Galway student John Feeney had five devices at the ready on the morning of Thursday 21 February, prepared for what he had heard to be a highly faulty booking system. Despite his preparation however, John, along with copious other students, were faced with the stress of losing their place in the application queue and a lack of updates on the issue from the accommodation management: “The whole thing crashed and by the time it came back up I was 200th in a queue of about 3000.”
John, and many other students, took to Twitter to express their disappointment and frustration following the failure of the website. Potential NUI Galway student @shaunadoherty02 voiced her distress on Twitter: “I can’t even explain the amount of stress I feel at the NUIG accommodation system right now.” Others leveraged their misfortune to create witty Tweets, one applicant @PaulSearson tweeted: “June 2019, NUIG’s accommodation website is still down. Nobody has any booking. They are running out of error codes. Goldcrest is demolished.”
Management eventually closed the site and released a statement on Twitter apologising for technical issues and promising that they would be reopening it the next day with rooms still available. Some fortunate students such as Oisín Roache, were contacted later that evening to continue their application over the phone.
Oisín told SIN how he was one of the lucky few who didn’t have to wait until the next day to book a room. The NUI Galway hopeful recognised that others weren’t so fortunate. “For others though I think the whole process was terrible, I’m sure a lot of people didn’t get the rooms they should have because of the issues.”
Those who hadn’t yet succeeded in their applications had to begin the whole process again the next day, with student John Feeney citing that it was 3pm before his application was finally processed.
Due to the consistently high demand and lack of supply of student accommodation in Galway, the mass levels of applicants should have been anticipated by the accommodation management. Regardless of the numbers of applicants, the responsibility lies with accommodation providers to uphold a fully functioning application process and not add to the escalating pressure on second and third-level students. This issue seems to be just another grain of salt in the ocean of problems that comprise the current accommodation crisis in Galway City.