August 25, 2020
Students Need College Plans Before Forking Out For Accommodation – Rose Conway-Walsh TD

 Sinn Féin spokesperson on Higher and Further Education, Research, Innovation and Science Rose Conway-Walsh TD has warned that expecting students and their hard-pressed parents to hand over deposits for accommodation when they don’t know what their timetables look like is ‘unfair and unjustifiable’.

Teachta Conway-Walsh said:

“I have to advise all students and their families to hold off signing any long-term leases for accommodation for the coming academic semester until we get clarity on what their actual requirements will be.

“Ministers Norma Foley and Simon Harris should come out and make a statement to the same effect. There has been a shocking lack of communication from Government on this important issue.

“Students cannot be expected to give over huge sums of money until they receive a timetable from their college and can make an informed decision. For first years, this cannot happen until after they accept an offer which, for some, will be as late as the 25th of September.

“While there are so many unknowns, it is unfair and unjustifiable to ask students and their families to pay rent or deposits. I have worked with many students and parents who had to fight to get refunds on unused accommodation after the lockdown was introduced in March. Some have still not been repaid. We cannot allow them to be robbed again.

“Government Ministers have left third-level institutes to design their own systems for the return for students based on loose guidelines. We have already seen that different Universities have interpreted these guidelines very differently with some implementing a 2-metre social distance and others planningfor only 1 metre.

“In Sinn Féin’s recent online survey into financial barriers to higher education ‘Telling the Real Story’, four out of five students told us they are ‘concerned or extremely concerned’ that they won’t have enough money to go to or remain at college. The Ministers need to show leadership and address these concerns and stop leaving students and colleges to fend for themselves.”

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