Raise the Roof March Against Homelessness (Image: Dylan O'Neill for The University Observer)

Only a couple of weeks ago, hundreds of students took a stand against raising rents and lack of housing at the “Raise the Roof” protest, marching from the Garden of Remembrance to Leinster House. The housing crisis, as it has been referred to, is all too familiar to almost every student. Increasing rents, on top of already high fees, are making third level education inaccessible to many.

“These students have the opportunity to study their dream course taken away as a result of escalating rents.”

A surge in second round offers last August reveals that many must sacrifice their university place due to lack of housing. This year, over 2,300 students were offered courses in the second round of CAO offers. Second round places only become available if a student who received an offer in the first round refused it. These students have the opportunity to study taken away as a result of escalating rents. This is again reflected with the drop of points for over 20 courses in UCD and Trinity College, showing that high rents are a barrier between students and education in the capital.

“Without radical reform, access to higher education will once again become an elitist notion and only accessible to those who can afford astronomical rents.”

UCD’s location on the Dublin south-side is particularly inaccessible for students. The average rent for a 2 bed in Stillorgan has risen from €1159 in 2010 to €1623 in 2017. With more and more students attending university every year, institutions cannot cope with the demand for on campus accommodation, giving students no option but to pay these rents. However, on campus accommodation is not much cheaper and it seems the university are doing nothing to try and ease this cost. Prices rose 7% between 2015 and 2016, currently ranging from €6,629 to €11,347 per annum. Digs, an uni-deal option for a young adult getting their first taste of independence, are still overpriced. Many are only allowing students to stay from Monday to Friday, making it impossible for students to get a weekend job in Dublin.

Long commutes are now becoming a reality for many students who have to travel from across the country to university in Dublin. These eat up valuable hours students should be spending studying or participating in societies and sports, having a huge impact on their college experience. Many students are forced to drop out as spending hours travelling to college is simply not feasible either.

429 students were registered as homeless on Census night 2016 and one can only assume that this number has increased since. Without radical reform access to higher education, it  will once again become an elitist notion and only accessible to those who can afford astronomical rents.