The mounting crises facing third level students 

By Conor Tormey 

The government’s disdain for students and young people continues as students face the mounting cost of living, the mental health crisis that the existing pitiful services are unable to cope with, and the student accommodation crisis. 

Private accommodation chaos 

It was recently revealed that vulture funds now own more student accommodation than DCU, UCD, UCC and TCD combined. Students are being charged exorbitant rents, and those who work a full-time minimum wage job while skipping classes cannot cover these rents. 

Linked to this is student housing operators attempting to offer only 51-week tenancies, and with only 66% of students having a written tenancy agreement many are being left with little to no protections. This is the consequence of a government that puts private market profiteering over the needs of students.

With this accommodation crisis, as well as the continued increase in the cost of living, and the pressures on courses, the daily life of students is one of mental anguish – leaving one in three students considering dropping out of third-level education

Protest action needed 

In this context, the official student movement has been relatively quiet. However, on Wednesday, 14 February, TCDSU, supported by USI, organised an occupation of the Department of Higher Education to support several demands. These included seizing vacant housing, rent controls, restoring the eviction ban and numerous others. Over 20 Gardaí were mobilised to remove the students.

This is the student movement’s first occupation of a government building since 2010, when 50,000 students marched in opposition to austerity. Students all over the country must unite to build a campaign based in all colleges that organises effective protests focused on defeating the government and their policy of profit over student needs.

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