On Thursday, students protested the housing and cost of living difficulties by leaving campuses all throughout the nation.

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Students left their classrooms at 11:11 a.m. on Thursday as part of a nationwide walkout organised by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI).

Roisin Murphy, a student from Mallow, participated in the walkout at University College Cork (UCC). According to Ms. Murphy, she wouldn’t have been able to pay for college if she hadn’t worked full-time over the summer and didn’t have her current part-time employment.

“It’s getting to a point where it’s impossible to get an education and to try and make a life for yourself as a young person”, said Murphy. Murphy, a first-year student, commutes from her home because housing near the institution is too expensive. She claimed that it is more than €6,000 to €10,000 a year and that she finds it absurd.

Accommodations are still the major problem for students this year, according to Sinead Roche, a member of the UCC students’ union. She added that many students who participated in the walk-outs still don’t have a place to live or simply can’t afford it.

Only 19% of purpose-built student housing is owned by the government, she continued. Therefore, what is available is a luxury that students just cannot afford. In Cork, several locations charge €245 per week.

She said that the budget for 2023 did not go far enough to address the housing concerns. The €1,000 was a one-time measure, she said. Plans for student housing are not discussed, and the SUSI [student] subsidy is still not keeping up with inflation.

Maeve Richardson of the USI, who saw walk-outs at the MTU campus in Bishopstown, claims that Munster Technological University (MTU) students are similarly affected by the shortage of accommodations. Students here also have a serious problem with transportation. Getting to campus presents many difficulties, she claimed.

“One student I spoke to is commuting from Tipperary. She has no car, and the earliest train gets in at 9.40am. She then has to get the bus out to Bishopstown, meaning she’s not making it to campus before 11am”, Richardson mentioned. 

According to student union president Aoife Gleeson, there are also a lot of students commuting to Mary Immaculate College in Limerick this year. She claimed that even if students commute two hours each way to class each day and pay high fuel costs, it is still more affordable for them to live in dorms.

In my speech in Dublin, College fees will be reduced for the first time in 27 years, according to Minister of Further and Higher Education Simon Harris, in the Budget 2023. 

“The budget that we delivered only a couple of weeks ago has provided, and more importantly will provide in the weeks and months ahead, a level of unprecedented support for students,” he said.

“We have many colleges that have public land banks effectively with planning permission, and we need to make an intervention so they can get building”, he said. He will provide ideas to the government at the end of the month in an effort to assist colleges in starting construction once more.

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