DESPITE the academic year having gotten well underway, a number of University of Limerick students have failed to secure accommodation due to what they describe as a “housing shortage” in the area.
One particular first-year student, who makes a two-hour commute every day to attend classes, has revealed to the Limerick Leader how she is considering dropping out of her studies as she cannot secure accommodation closer to campus.
“I have missed the past two weeks of lectures as I had been commuting from Mayo everyday and it got too difficult,” she said, “I have looked everywhere for accommodation, and the whole situation stressed me out so much to the point where I felt ill...I think I must drop out because of this problem, it’s so bad.”
“I emailed the first year support coordinator and she said she had never seen the accommodation situation as bad as this,” she added.
Meanwhile, a third-year sports science student in the university also faces up to a three-hour commute daily as a result of the apparent shortage of housing.
“I feel that UL taking on extra students when housing shortages and problems with traffic and parking were already huge problems shows a lack of planning and leaves students and their parents paying increasing rent prices to suffer the consequences,” said the student.
“It’s affected my studies as I feel more tired, and it’s definitely affected my social life as it’s difficult to go out when commuting and I’m staying in AirBnB’s sometimes which are just rooms in family homes so my social life has been affected the most overall.”
A woman who advertised a room for rent in the area has described how she finds the housing situation around the university as “absolutely disheartening.”
“I posted the advertisement on Monday and by Wednesday I had to pause it as I had received over 90 emails, and more phone calls and texts,” she explained.
“I feel so terrible after hearing some of the distances being travelled from Galway, Tralee, Kildare and Kilkenny, and some of the conditions people are living in,” she continued, “having had so many applicants for the room is so hard seeing the extent of the housing crisis.”
“UL are taking more students year on year but are not considering the extreme conditions students must face due to overpopulation of the Castletroy area, and they need to be confronted about their bad planning in favour of more student fees,” she added.
A UL spokesperson said: “University of Limerick takes the accommodation of its students very seriously. While the extensive on-campus offering of 2,800 beds is currently fully booked, UL has responded to the growing demand for accommodation this year by increasing the available off-campus offering and encouraging local property owners and landlords to advertise vacant rooms via the UL website.
“UL has undertaken a number of print and radio campaigns and leaflet drops to encourage local homeowners to rent rooms to students who may be seeking accommodation and this has already resulted in a significant number of further accommodation options becoming available. There are still options available currently.
“This is a short-term measure and it will continue. In the longer term, UL is looking at options to further grow on-campus accommodation for students.”
UL president Dr Des Fitzgerald has said that the increase in CAO offers to students this year was “part of the ambitious growth plans for University of Limerick where we aim to increase our current student cohort of 15,000 to 20,000 over the next decade.
“We are considering and planning for all of the elements that will allow for the growth of UL from an increase in student recruitment at undergraduate and postgraduate levels to the expansion of our teaching spaces, laboratory spaces as well as sporting facilities and student accommodation.”