A student who has had to defer her place at Maynooth University because of the accommodation crisis has already begun looking for somewhere to live next September.
Caitlin-Faye Maniti (19) received a first round CAO offer to study entrepreneurship, but has decided to take a gap year so she can save up for rent and relieve some of the pressure on her parents, who had been trying to help her find a place since February.
Ms Maniti, who is president of the Irish Second-Level Students’ Union (ISSU), said the rental crisis is placing students under “undue pressure” and tainting the college experience.
She was taken aback by how easy it was to secure a deferral, which she believes highlights how desperate the situation is.
“I have a classmate who is also struggling to find accommodation, and when she phoned the college they gave her the option of looking on Daft.ie or deferring,” Ms Maniti said.
“It was surprising to hear that, and when I was doing my own deferral process I spent three days writing out an email to plead my case, but all I had to do was fill out an online form in the end.
“I was shocked at how easy it was to defer, which has me concerned for what it will be like next year”.
Ms Maniti currently lives in Letterkenny, Co Donegal, and commuting was not an option. She started searching for accommodation for next year as she does not want to experience the same stress she and her family went through this year.
“This is freshers week and it’s the week you start to make new friends and get integrated into college life, but students are facing this huge burden of still searching for somewhere to live and it is tainting the whole experience,” she said.
“My parents are at ease as I have reserved my place in the university, but we don’t want to go through this process again.”
While she was initially disappointed at having to defer, she said her role as ISSU president will help keep her busy during her gap year.
“Ultimately, I made this decision for a number of reasons, including the cost of living and accommodation. The accommodation issue is what tipped me over the edge,” she said.
Some of the quotes she received included one for €1,000 for a room in digs.
Maynooth University is in the process of offering round two places to students and said it would “be pre-emptive” to issue any deferral figures.
A spokesperson said: “We appreciate that accommodation remains an extremely difficult issue for students and are actively working to support all students through our home-finder service, which puts students in touch with private sector providers, and dedicated bus routes to allow more students to commute.”