Students 'will be forced to drop out' as rocketing rents make college unaffordable
Students at Maynooth University are coming under pressure to drop out of college or face lengthy daily commutes as rents continue to rocket in the college town.
Maynooth University is the smallest university in Ireland and has been known for a community atmosphere by its 12,000 students.
However, as the housing crisis takes hold of the college town attitudes have been changing among students.
“I haven’t been able to enjoy college,” says second year student Eva Buckley (22) who commutes four hours a day from her home in Birr, Co Offaly.
“I've thought of dropping out because of the situation. I can’t really enjoy my experience. It’s a pity because it is a nice college and people are nice," Eva said.
This is the second year the Media and Criminology student looks set to face the gruelling commute as landlords hike rents and force students out of the rental market.
“Most places only offer five days accommodation and it could still be €440 up to €600 for digs and that could be a twin room as well.
“It’s often two beds squashed into one small room for just five days when all I want is a single room for 7 days.”
Another student, Lydia Mendes (23) is facing the same four hour daily commute from her home in Meath.
“I’ve paid €500 a month to rent a small room in digs over the last two years and this year landlords were requesting between €600 and €900, which is way too much,” she said.
“I’ll have to get the Bus Éireann bus into Dublin and then get a train to Maynooth. It'll mean my life will only consist of university lectures and staying in the library. Travelling to and from university costs €250 a month, which ironically is so much cheaper."
Westmeath student Megan (18) who received an offer to study Business in the CAO offers released this week, considers herself “lucky” to have found a place for €500 a month.
“I was offered places for that same rate and more for sharing a small twin with someone… so I think I was lucky.”
In line with rising rents around the country, rates in Kildare have jumped 11pc year-on-year according to latest data from property website Daft.ie. Average rent for a household totalled €1,283 in the same report.
As a result, nightmare accommodation stories such as those of Eva and Lydia’s have emerged.
“People are trying to charge as much as they can for students. We’ve had a landlord put up a single room with two twin beds and they’re charging €890 per month for rent,” says Leon Diop, Maynooth University’s students' union president.
“That’s €440 per person for a twin room for five days and they have to leave at the weekends as well.
“We’re going to see students dropping out because they can’t afford the accommodation.”
The university bills itself as having a “unique collegial culture” away from the chaos of the city for its growing student population.
A record number of 3,150 first year students are set to join the university next month, thanks to an increase in students opting for the university as a first preference for third level education.
A spokesperson for Maynooth University said they were aware of student concerns but said they were confident there would be a supply of housing to meet demand.
"Maynooth is certainly not immune to the national crisis in affordable housing, particularly as both the region and university have grown in population," she said.
"Based on the enquires we’re receiving this week, we believe there will be adequate supply to meet the demand of our students, but there’s no question the prices have escalated in recent years.
The Maynooth University Accommodation Office is offering support sessions for incoming students and their parents this week and advertises on- and off-campus accommodation of varying terms (number of days, meals etc.) on its website.
"The University believes strongly that the provision of student accommodation should be part of the national discussion on the housing crisis."