Majority of local students pay rent but can’t attend campus: survey
The majority of Third Level students here expect to spend no time on campus this year but many have paid in advance for accommodation and have been unable to get a refund.
A survey has found that 64% of students in the South East – at Waterford Institute of Technology and IT Carlow – do not believe they will personally attend either college.
It found that seven per cent of students in the South East believed they would spend less than five hours a week on campus and a further seven per cent thought they would spend between six and 10 hours there.
Some students thought their courses would require them to attend college. In the South East, 21% of those surveyed expected to be spending more than 10 hours a week on campus.
The survey was conducted for Sinn Féin among more than 300 students at eight locations. It found that in the South East, most students (89%) rented private accommodation and 11% of them had paid up to €500 in advance.
Considerably more than half (67%) of students at the Waterford and Carlow ITs had paid between €500 and €1,000 upfront and 22% had paid between €1,000 and €2,000.
In Dublin, more than half the students surveyed had paid between €2,000 and €5,000 in advance but nobody in the South East had paid more than €2,000 upfront.
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Further and Higher Education, Rose Conway-Walsh, accused private landlords of “gouging” students.
She said: “Students have been gouged for large sums of money upfront by private landlords who did not give refunds during the first lockdown and seem unlikely to willingly do so now.Some educational institutions have also, thus far, not offered refunds for the 2020/21 academic year for those who paid in advance for on-campus accommodation.”
The Mayo TD called on the Government to ensure all leases can be ended early without incurring any fee or penalty and that all deposits and advance-rent paid to private accommodation providers is refunded to students.
Ms Conway-Walsh said lack of connectivity in parts of the country had forced students to find accommodation even though their courses have moved online. She called on colleges to explore the possibility of using on-campus accommodation for students with no internet connectivity at home.
The Sinn Féin Student Accommodation Survey 2020 was carried out in October before the shift to Covid-19 Level 5.