Supporting Local News

SU Welfare Officer finds out first-hand how hard it is to secure place to live

Students in Galway are “facing into an extremely difficult year” in 2024 as the accommodation crisis in the sector goes from bad to worse.

That’s according to the University of Galway Students’ Union Welfare and Equality Officer, Izzy Tiernan, who was herself left frantically searching for a place to stay in recent weeks after becoming ill due to mould where they were staying.

And having spent the last few months trying to sort a place to stay for countless other students, Izzy said that theirs was just the latest in countless students’ struggles to find suitable accommodation in the city.

“I got somewhere in the end, thankfully, but I was days away from ending up in a hostel. It was a case where I was living somewhere that was actually not suitable for people to live in – we’re seeing this day after day in the Students’ Union.

“I am severely asthmatic and I developed pneumonia in September – and that was before the winter arrived. I realised after scouring the room that it was covered in mould,” said the student representative.

Izzy knew there was no option but to leave, but due to the lack of available rooms in Galway, it wasn’t straightforward.

“I spent months tyring to find somewhere, but even with all the connections and know-how I’d built up [as an SU rep], it was still incredibly hard to get something.”

After a stressful search, Izzy eventually secured a place in town but said it was “incredibly stressful” and didn’t bode well for new students arriving to Galway in early 2024.

“We are going to have a whole new cohort of students in January – international students and part-time students, and all of the student accommodation is already full.

“It really is relentless, and it’s not getting better,” said Izzy.

While the rent-a-room scheme had potential, a lack of regulation meant that homeowners were choosing to let spaces that were unfit for habitation – and there was an attitude that it didn’t matter, they continued.

But as Izzy found, unsuitable accommodation could have serious consequences and even posed a risk to her health.

“These landlords are not vetted – they don’t have to declare it to the Residential Tenancies Board so it’s completely unregulated.”

Another issue was that some of those renting a room in their home didn’t seem prepared to have an adult staying with them – placing limits on use of the kitchen and implementing rules not suited to third-level students.

“They might want an 18-year-old fresh out of school who is happy to go along with the rules and integrate into the family, but we are looking at adults in their 20s and 30s who can’t live under adolescent rules.”

Izzy said University of Galway had no plans to construct any additional student accommodation at the moment.

Extraordinary work was being done by the staff in the accommodation office “with the limited resources they have”, said Izzy, but university management was falling short.

“There is an accommodation working group which the Students’ Union does not sit on and in terms of keeping us in the loop, they’re not doing that.

“I will always go back to Government and the Higher Education Authority too – they need to be providing funding for modular student accommodation and making it easier to get that through planning,” said Izzy.

Pictured: Izzy Tiernan…difficult year for students.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app

The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

More like this:

Sign Up To get Weekly Sports UPDATES

Go Up