Student contemplated dropping out over college accommodation crisis

September 15th, 2022 11:55 AM

By Kieran O'Mahony

Lauren is a third year student at UCD. (Photo: Shutterstock).

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UCD STUDENT Lauren O’Donovan from Ballygurteen outside Dunmanway is a typical example of many third level students from West Cork desperately trying to secure accommodation for the coming academic year.

Lauren, who is going into her third year of studying statistics at the Dublin college, starts back next week but only managed to secure accommodation this week, after searching all summer.

And she has had to accept a room in a home – ‘digs’ – which is an 80-minute two-bus commute from the college.

Right until this week, she was facing a choice between deferring the year or give up college altogether.

Speaking to The Southern Star, Lauren said she and her two friends had been looking online all summer in order to get a house share for themselves.

‘We started looking the minute we found out we wouldn’t be getting campus accommodation. We’d had it for two years, but it’s a random waiting list,’ said Lauren.

She said they had only secured one viewing all summer.

‘We were applying for everything, but literally hearing nothing back. We did hear from one person a month ago and he turned out to be a scam in the end.’

The one viewing was for a twin room for two of them in Kilmainham, but in the end, they weren’t offered it.

‘There is no Plan B at the moment for students. It’s absolutely crazy, I can’t believe it.’

Lauren said that many of her college-going friends are in the same boat.

She says she honestly didn’t know what she would have done if the digs option didn’t show up –  she was also thinking of asking a friend if she could couch-surf for a bit.

Despite working all summer to put herself through college, Lorna said it’s really disappointing to have been faced with this reality so close to the start of term.

‘Once we decided we would do a house share we thought it would be just a matter of finding a place. We should have been looking forward to going back to college all summer.’

She and her mum Marie started looking at ‘digs’ but realised it was impossible to secure somewhere convenient and close to the Belfield campus in Dublin 4. Lauren has heard of lots of other students struggling to find similar accommodation in Cork city too, and she even contacted her local TD, Cork West Independent Michael Collins, whose office tried to help her find something.

But, luckily, this week, she managed to find something – albeit a lengthy commute from UCC.

A friend who went to a viewing mentioned her predicatment and the landlord said their mother had intended to rent out a twin room but hadn’t listed it yet.

‘She set up a viewing for us for the next day,’ said Lauren. Now she has a room in the elderly couple’s house but it’s two buses and an hour and twenty minutes from her college.

‘Still, it’s such a relief,’ she said.

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