Provost Linda Doyle on student accommodation: “We’re in a real crisis situation”

Doyle this week spoke of the need for wider availability of accommodation for students on Today FM and Newstalk

Provost Linda Doyle has described Ireland as being in a “real crisis situation” on the issue of student accommodation as she reiterated calls for more urgent and long-term solutions to the crisis.

Speaking to Matt Cooper on Today FM, Doyle said that the situation represents “something that’s been in the making for a decade” and that “the general housing crisis is the reason why students now are having this terrible time in finding accommodation”.

When asked about how much of Trinity’s fully-owned accommodation was used as a “revenue earner” to rake in cash from international students, the Provost said that Trinity was in the process of establishing an additional 250 accommodation places for students over the coming months, costing the College an estimated €60-70 billion for which it has had to borrow money. The Provost described this “a drop in the ocean” in relation to what is required.

Doyle also appeared on Newstalk, where she highlighted that such seemingly large investments yield only small relief to the larger problem: “When people give you figures and the public hear that millions are put into something, that needs to be converted into how many beds it will really deliver.”

Doyle confirmed on Today FM that the College had reached out to staff and alumni on the prospect of providing accommodation to students within their homes, similar to moves in other third-level institutions in the region.

“I think it is more ideal that there’s a wider choice of the other kind of accommodation that we were speaking about … but I think we’re in a real crisis situation here.

The Provost also spoke of the impact the crisis is having on students’ college experience. “It distracts from their study, from learning… it makes it harder to be involved socially, which is so needed.”

“We pride ourselves in Ireland about our educated population, our education system, and we’re eroding that for this generation.”

Referencing the united front posed by the education sector and government to tackle challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Doyle argued that a similar approach was needed to solve the accommodation crisis.

“We need a serious plan so we’re not sitting here year after year having the exact same conversation.

During an on-campus visit to open Trinity’s new disability hub on Wednesday, Minister Simon Harris said that the current student accommodation policy is “not adequate”.

Last month, it was announced that College received planning permission to build four new accommodation blocks on the Trinity Hall campus in Dartry, which will provide 358 additional beds.

Evan Skidmore O’Reilly

Evan Skidmore O'Reilly is a Deputy News Editor for the 69th volume of Trinity News, and a third year BESS student.