The University of Limerick (UL) has come under fire from UL Student Life and the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) for a new campus accommodation scheme that will see a second bed added to apartments originally designed for one person.
The university today defended its position to double up the rooms, saying the decision was made “in an attempt to meet unprecedented demand in the shortest possible timeframe amid a national housing crisis”.
Second and third-year students applying to live on the UL campus for the 2020/21 academic year will only be eligible to apply for a twin room. Final-year students may only apply for single rooms under the condition that they have resided in UL accommodation for the previous three years.
The Irish Independent reported today that hundreds of students have signed a petition demanding that second and third-year students are not limited to shared bedrooms.
Speaking to Sean O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio One today, USI president Lorna Fitzpatrick said it is impossible to see how students would live or study in the conditions proposed by UL management.
“The phrase ‘you couldn’t swing a cat in the room’ doesn’t even cover it”, she said. “There is a tiny gap in between two single beds and one small work station at the foot of the bed, so it’s impossible to see how you could live comfortably or study in these conditions.”
She added: “It is important to note that an awful lot of these rooms at universities around the country are assigned on a lottery-based system, so you don’t necessarily know the person that you will be sharing a room with, especially in these conditions.”
UL’s statement added that “wider development plans are currently under consideration for new-build on-campus accommodation, however this will take some time to bring to fruition”.
“The twin room option deals with the supply deficit while also providing an affordable option to many students.”
In a statement posted on Facebook yesterday, UL Student Life said the decision was “appalling”.
“This announcement has come too late in the year to allow students adequate time to find alternative arrangements for September”, the statement said. “This policy is in no way cognisant of the needs of second, third and fourth year students.”
“These rooms were never designed for two students”, Jack Scanlon, the president of UL Student Life, said. “We are demanding that the university stops all plans to increase the student population until adequate infrastructure and services are in place to cater for the 16,300 students.”