'Digs' will suit many freshers
Check out student unions and college accommodation services
Published 22/08/2016 | 06:00
For many students, going to college also means a move away from home and a search for suitable accommodation.
First years are always advised either to stay in on-campus accommodation, or other purpose-built student accommodation in the vicinity, or to live in "digs", which means living in a family home.
First years are strongly advised to avoid the private rented market.
Anyone interested in on-campus accommodation should check with the college that they plan to attend. Not every college has on-campus accommodation, but those that do include all the universities, Waterford IT and Griffith College, Dublin. UCD is unveiling its new 350-bed Ashfield Residence tomorrow, bringing to 3,164 the number of students living on campus at UCD, with more than 1,000 rooms for first years.
Arrangements for securing on-campus accommodation vary between colleges: some make conditional allocations of campus rooms earlier in the year on a first-come, first-served basis and others wait until the CAO offers are made. Even where allocations have been made, not everyone will take up a place, which will free up rooms for someone on the waiting list or a new applicant.
The general accommodation shortage has made digs an increasingly important option for students, particularly first years. They offer the benefit of living in a "home away form home", with no hidden bills such as heating or refuse costs. In some households, meals are included and in others the student self-caters.
The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) is sending flyers to 100,000 homes that are in close proximity to third-level colleges asking that they rent a spare room to a student.
USI president Annie Hoey believes digs is a 'win-win' for students and homeowners - students have all of the positives of living in a homely environment, and homeowners can make money tax-free .
USI has set up a website - www.homes.usi.ie - and Hoey says that anyone interested in renting a room should upload pictures with a brief description and monthly costs.
Apart from USI itself, student union offices and college accommodation services are very helpful at this time and they should be the first port of call for anyone who is still seeking accommodation.
A really useful handbook for parents and students, particularly first years, is Flying the Coop (pictured above), now in its 20th edition. It provides a host of information and advice on all aspects of leaving home and going to college, including accommodation, costs and budgeting, health, adjustments and support.
It is published by Youth Work Ireland, Roscommon and North East Galway, which charges 50c, plus posting and packing, to cover printing costs.