International students struggle to find accommodation

International students in Ireland are facing endless problems, while the accommodation crisis goes on, reports Ottavia Caminita.

Ireland is becoming an unattractive place for international students, due to its soaring rents and scarce housing supply.

Since 2012, the number of international students studying in Ireland has increased. Nowadays, the percentage of non-Irish students in higher education is around 8.8 per cent of the student population, which is an increase of almost 3,000 international students. The number will increase to 15 per cent by 2020, according to a report from the Higher Education Authority.

A significant issue for international students is the scarce amount of affordable accommodation close to universities that accept international students. Eider Graner, a Spanish student, talked about the hardship of finding a place to rent in Dublin.

“I picked Dublin for my semester abroad. I was excited about the idea and thought it was going to be more affordable than London, until I realised how difficult it was to find accommodation and how high were the costs I was going to face. My university in France helped me find the place I am currently living in now, which is nothing like what was promised on the website.”

The Irish Council for International Students (ICOS) has published on its website a guide for   international students to finding accommodation. There is an ample variety of options to choose from: on-campus accommodation, long-term student hostel, host family and private rented accommodation. The website also specifies the four categories, explaining the pros and cons of each kind of accommodation.

“I was excited about the idea and thought it was going to be more affordable than London, until I realised how difficult it was to find accommodation and how high were the costs I was going to face”

Many international students would find it hard to believe that Ireland can be so difficult to find a place to live in. This is because on-campus accommodation is expensive, has limited space and must be booked by a certain time; otherwise no rooms are going to be available.

A host family, also known as “digs”, could be seen as the most attractive offer. However, rooms are usually more suitable for Irish students, since the rent is usually Monday to Friday, which does not guarantee a place for the weekend and is not reasonable for students coming from other countries.

Private accommodation is the most challenging experience an international student can face. The website, Daft.ie, is the first resource for research.

However, high prices for rooms are listed. On average, approximately a minimum of €550 (no bills included) is asked. A small percentage of advertised accommodations are student friendly, or do not include a specific age or gender interest. In a few cases, some nationalities are not accepted, which also raises a problem of racial discrimination.

Other than this, the demand for viewings and the numerous emails advertisers receive lead to a very poor number of responses to the interested “buyers”.

“Without immediate strategies to address the affordability of student housing, many of the current difficulties faced by students will persist. In particular, the lack of affordability of purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) units – most notably many of those recently entering the market – forces students to turn to the private rented sector, where international students are especially vulnerable to discrimination, fraud and unscrupulous landlords,” according to ICOS.

It believes that increased efforts are required to find ways to address the issue of affordability in the short and medium term.

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