Renting a room in a family home is a good move for first years
There isn't enough student accommodation in big towns
Published 17/08/2015 | 06:00
For many students, the transition to college also means moving away from home for the first time.
The advice to first years is to stay either in on-campus accommodation, or other purpose-built student accommodation nearby, or to live in a "digs" arrangement, which means living in a family home, either with meals included or on a self-catering basis.
In most colleges that offer on-campus accommodation - generally the universities - chances are it is booked out or has lengthy waiting lists. However, any interested student should check with the particular college in which they have been offered a place about the situation.
This is a very difficult year for student accommodation, most particularly in Dublin and Maynooth, and, to a lesser extent, in Cork and Galway.
All colleges, and their student unions, provide information and assistance to parents and students in the search of a suitable place to live. So, if intending students have not yet made arrangements, they are the best starting points.
In the face of the accommodation crisis in major student cities and town, the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has urged families and students themsleves to consider the option of renting a room in a private home, in traditionally "digs". This could be on the basis of meals provided or self-catering.
USI president Kevin Donoghue advises: "The earlier you secure your bed for the year, the more chance you have of getting good accommodation close to your college. It stands to reason that good places closer to your chosen college will fill up first - after that you may need to make compromises on quality, price and the commute to college."
First-year students at USI member colleges will receive a combined rent-book, accommodation and finance guide in Freshers Packs.
According to Donoghue, this is an important document, because you'll find many landlords don't hand out a rent book, even though they're required to by law.
"In the book you'll find some really helpful advice on how to look after your accommodation and guarantee the return of your deposit. Most importantly, make sure your landlord records your rent payments and deposit in your rent book, since it constitutes the official record of rent paid.
Donoghue said it can be a daunting experience to be away from a guaranteed Sunday roast and familiar voices - and homesickness is not uncommon, so his advice to first years: "Your task in your first few weeks away will be to learn about your surroundings, make acquaintances and seek out everything fun and comforting in your new environment.
"For now, the urgent need (other than finding a place) is to learn to cook if you don't already know how. A semester is a long time to survive on instant noodles, so it's time to pay attention to whomever makes the food at home and get some practice in."