THE availability of student accommodation in the Letterkenny area for September has been described as “desperate” by the President of the Students’ Union at Atlantic Technology University (ATU) Edward Grant.
“This time last year, even with 331 rentals, we struggled to get enough accommodation,” Mr Grant said.
“This year we have 123, a reduction of more than 200 rooms, and we are expecting a bigger than ever influx of students. ATU is now attracting more international students but they need somewhere to live.
“The majority of accommodation on our list is made up of digs but part of the issue this year is getting new providers to come on board. Last year after an appeal we got 100 rooms but this year we got just 19. The shortage of student accommodation is putting students off coming to
ATU but this is reflected right across the country.”
Mr Grant said many students who fail to find accommodation are turning to apprenticeships which he believes should be recognised as the same standard as degree level.
Last year LYIT had a record number of CAO applications at 2,500. It is anticipated this year that figure will exceed 3,000.
“Because of the Leaving Cert results being pushed back, come September there will be stress and a real crush in the system.
“It is terrible to have students and parents calling us to get them some sort of accommodation and we have nothing for them. I would call on the government to reinvest in student accommodation.
“Look at Letterkenny Main Street area. I counted 40 vacant houses with at least two rooms.
“If the public investment went into bringing these up to standard they would accommodate up to 80 students and inject a lot more life into the Main Street. They could be managed by ATU and the Student Union. If we could get this going in Letterkenny it could be rolled out right across the country,” he added.
So far hotels including the Mount Errigal and Dillon’s are offering students rooms ranging in price from €50 for a single including breakfast to €88 for a twin room. However these are subject to availability and towards Christmas there is less and less accommodation available in hotels.
Ballyraine Campus student accommodation is currently booked out for September and has a long list of people awaiting possible cancellations before students get results and decide on their courses.
The campus has 64 apartments and can accommodate 162 students on a single room basis. Fees are around €800 and rents vary depending on occupancy from €1,325 to €2,250 per annum.
Dermot Farrell, Manager at Ballyraine Campus, said they are encouraging potential ATU students to add their names to the cancellation list as some of those with bookings already secured may decide to go elsewhere.
“Our waiting list is very long. What I am advising people at the moment is to stay on the cancellation list but keep looking elsewhere as well.
It will be very difficult for students to get accommodation and we are advising them to contact the Student Union at ATU as they have an approved list of accommodation providers. Try to look at every option,” he said.
Mr Farrell pointed out that last year was a tight year for student accommodation but they did managed to get them all in with some in hotel rooms.
“There are parents out there who don’t know where their sons or daughters are going to study so they are putting down deposits in different places. It is particularly difficult for people travelling long distances to attend ATU and it is important they are looked after. I suppose a lot of people will consider deferring for a year if they cannot secure accommodation,” he added.
Sharon McCready, Letting Manager at Franklin Estate Agent,s told the Donegal News they have no student accommodation available.
“I think we have two or three student houses and they are already let for September.
“We did manage the student rentals for the former student accommodation opposite LYIT but that is now housing for refugees.”