NUIGSU proposes implementation of rent caps and protection for students living in digs

An open letter from the students’ union discusses the enforcement of legislation surrounding short-term leases, a “National Student Accommodation Policy and Strategy”

In a letter addressed to Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris on September 1, NUI Galway Students’ Union outlined a number of measures they would like to see implemented in the short, medium, and long term to remedy it.

Citing 90 reported cases of Galway students without permanent accommodation, the letter foresees a deterioration of the situation as more students arrive for the coming semester.

With a particular focus on the impact on international students, the letter argues that these students “are being forced to decide whether to study in Galway and risk homelessness or abandon their studies and return home”.

To remedy this in the short term, the letter proposes to “fully reimburse any international students that are forced to return home” and to “reintroduce learning hybrid” to accommodate students who could not secure housing in Galway.

The letter also calls for the implementation of rent caps and the enforcement of “tenancy policy for students living in digs”.

In the medium to long term, the letter discusses the enforcement of legislation surrounding short-term leases, a “National Student Accommodation Policy and Strategy”, and the introduction of “wide scale purchasing and building state-funded projects of purpose-built student accommodation”.

“Inaction will cause irreparable damage to the University of Galway and Ireland’s international reputation,” the letter argues.

It concludes: “We must protect our students.”

The letter comes amidst an increasing student response to a growing housing crisis. The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) recently announced its plans for a student walkout on a national level in protest against the housing crisis and the effect it continues to have on students across the country.

Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) last week pledged its support for the national walkout, and issued a list of demands to College and government, including the reduction of rent in College-owned accommodation, the reintroduction of hybrid learning, and measures to alleviate the housing crisis at a national level.