As the new academic year rears its head, a slew of Trinity students are returning to Dublin. Some have been granted accommodation through College either on campus, near campus, or in Trinity Hall. However, for most, finding accommodation has been a struggle, adding stress to their academic preparations as they scroll through daft.ie, revising their budgets as they see the reality of rent prices. Those who miss out on student accommodation feel the weight of added pressure and responsibility when returning to college, but what proportion of students is this stress hitting the most? Is Trinity’s allocation of accommodation leaving cohorts of students forlorn, lost, and stressed — and what is the solution?
“This year, 0% of rooms on Trinity Campus have been allocated to Junior Fresh, Senior Fresh, or Junior Sophister students applying regularly through the accommodation portal.”
Trinity’s Residential Department constructs an Accommodation Allocation Plan which is approved by the Provost each year, mapping out which groups of students will be prioritised in housing each year. This year, 0% of rooms on Trinity Campus (including Heritage, Pearse, Goldsmith, Business School, Printing House Square, or Kavanagh Court) have been allocated to Junior Fresh, Senior Fresh, or Junior Sophister students applying regularly through the accommodation portal. 14.5% of rooms are allocated to Scholars, 11.4% to international students, and 2-4% of rooms are allocated to other groups including students with disabilities or students within the Irish, DU Central Athletic Club (DUCAC), or Central Societies Committee (CSC) schemes. Over 50% of Trinity Hall is allocated to Junior Fresh students, with 27% going to international students, and 5% going to both scholars and special considerations.
“After the first round of offers, allocations are made on the basis of random selection to rising final year students on the waiting list”
Speaking with Trinity News, Alex Clark from Trinity’s Accommodation Advisory Service explained the reason for the uneven allocation of accommodation: “Normally, such rooms are only allocated to rising final year students, with a limited allocation for graduate students. There are quotas of rooms set aside for scholars, international students, schemes in support of the Irish Language, DUCAC, and the CSC. Thereafter, priority is normally given to international students, those who have not lived on campus previously, and those who make a significant contribution to College and/or the wider community.” It also became clear that there was hope after a first rejection, but only for a small group of students: “After the first round of offers, allocations are made on the basis of random selection to rising final year students on the waiting list.” It seems as though Trinity has a plethora of quotas to meet when allocating their rooms, but even with these figures, and this explanation, a vast cohort of College students are neglected in the accommodation allocation process. With this in mind, it is up for question whether Trinity should make rooms available for these students, or enable them to apply in the first place.
The application process for College accommodation is a lengthy and unique one, with students being required to present an argument as to why they think they deserve a spot. As a rising Senior Fresh student having been informed that I had missed out on accommodation and, after reaching out for answers, seeing the Allocation Plan, I felt that application had been a waste of time, as I had not even been considered. For most colleges and universities, the accommodation application process includes a lottery, wherein each applicant has an equal chance. This could be a possible, and perhaps more forgivable, method for Trinity.
It is clear that the foundational issue with Trinity Accommodation Services is not the quotas it has to meet nor its method of allocation, but the sheer lack of rooms they have for their students. An obvious but clearly unfeasible solution would be for College to provide more accommodation for its students, so while that is not an option, students must explore alternatives. The Accommodation Advisory Service recommends “a similar halls of residence style accommodation” for those who are looking for a similar experience to that of on-campus accommodation, such as Binary Hub, or finding private housing through websites such as daft.ie or collegecribs.ie. They understand that entering into a private lease can be both daunting and confusing, and provide support and advice, along with TCD Renter’s Union.
Trinity’s Accommodation Plan leaves many groups of students disappointed and stressed each year, but is their allocation of rooms a necessity for the college, or intentionally and unnecessarily neglecting large cohorts? Before coming to College, each student fantasizes about living in Trinity, and experiencing the college at its most authentic, but the allocation of accommodation realises this dream for very few.