Student housing crisis set to worsen
Cash-strapped college students face another year of long commutes, couch-surfing or living in digs as the accommodation crisis deepens ahead of the first semester.
The frantic search for student homes has started earlier than ever with new evidence that the shortage has intensified in Galway and Cork.
Over the past month CollegeCribs.ie - a website featuring property listings for third-level colleges - has seen traffic surge by almost 25pc compared to the same time last year.
Co-founder Edward Thurman said: "June is usually a quiet month as students have just finished the college year, or Leaving Cert students wait until their offers, so they typically wait until August to search, but this year the visitor numbers keep growing".
Its most recent statistics also reveal that landlords are "catching on to the early start" as the amount of new student property listings added to the site have skyrocketed by 19pc.
Rooms in both private houses and student complexes were even booked as early as April.
According to CollegeCribs.ie, the largest hike in the cost of accommodation is for the Dublin region - up over 5pc on last year.
Kevin Donoghue, the new president of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), says it has been facing this "access to education" issue for the past seven years.
"It has become more acute in Galway and Cork this year, but Dublin is still the pressure point. All universities, colleges and institutions - apart from IT Tallaght and IT Blanchardstown are having difficulty," he said, adding that the USI has received an increased number of calls from concerned students, parents and guardians this summer.
"We anticipate a big push for digs this year and for the next few years until long- term purpose-built student accommodation is rolled out nationwide - that is the only answer."
Over the next couple of weeks the USI will launch its accommodation appeal campaign in Dublin to encourage home owners in the region to consider renting a spare room to a student.
Mr Donoghue, who took up his new post earlier this month, is currently awaiting a report on the crisis from the Higher Education Authority but is confident a short-term and long-term solution will be reached.