A quick look on accommodation websites in Ireland, and it doesn’t take long for a dismal picture for students with a family. The message seems to be clear: students with families are really not welcome. In a bid to uncover the reality of the problem facing married students, I sent an email to one of the much-publicised student accommodation recently opened within the city center with an inquiry about renting a place for a married student couple. Your guess is as good as mine; turns out married couples are excluded from renting that too. The reply to my email reads
“….thanks for getting in touch with us! Unfortunately, our room are single occupancy only”.
This exclusion of married couples from the student rental market, it begs the question of what mature students withfamilies need to do to get a place to live. Particularly for international students, who are not eligible for the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) and with no access to social housing or rent supplements, Ireland may soon see a steady decline in its share of married students. With rents for one-bedroom apartments nearing €1000 per month in Dublin and areas, we may soon be having a major crisis on our hands. In 2016, the Irish times reported that the ongoing housing crisis is already literally forcing thousands of young couples to delay marriage and having children. This will have a domino effect, not only on international students who may be forced to live separately from their spouses and kids, but will also trickle down to local students who are marriage hopefuls or already married.
So, what then if you happen to be a married student in Dublin? You will be faced either with extremely high rents that are hardly available nor affordable, and confronted with the reality of paying exorbitant rents. As the prices increase across the board, more students are being forced to either be separated from their family for long periods or students have to commute, which amounts to the same thing.
The plight of married students is like the elephant in the room – we can’t just ignore it. International students are a huge source of income for DIT and it is easy to dismiss it with the wave of the hand and assume its someone elses problem. After all, everyone is affected by the same problem. But prehaps in the face of BREXIT Ireland should be prepared to do whatever it takes to capture the international students market – accommodation is a key component to achieving this aim. Affordability and availability would be a key issue as the next batch of foreign students resumes this September.