Students’ unions across the country, as well as the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), have called on luxury accommodation providers to refund students forced to leave early due to the coronavirus outbreak.
An open letter signed by the presidents of all of USI’s member unions urges private accommodation providers – including ISA Accommodation Dublin, Uninest, Aparto and Athlone Student Rooms – “to look at ways they can support students who have paid thousands of euro for these facilities which they are not now using”.
“Most colleges and universities have agreed to provide refunds for vacated on-campus accommodation, as is right in this crisis”, the letter says. “The USI and its members are calling on these companies to show compassion to students who find themselves in very difficult circumstances.”
“Students are out of college, they’ve lost jobs, had to move home and are trying to keep up their study online and keep themselves healthy while supporting family and friends who are more vulnerable. Some students have underlying health conditions and have had to move home in order for them to be able to self-isolate away from their shared student accommodation.”
“These private accommodation companies charge substantial rent and if there was ever a time to give back to society, it is now”, the letter says.
“Some of these companies are telling students they can only get a refund if they find someone else to take the place, which is very unlikely in a pandemic, or that they will only be refunded deposits and the unused cost of bills, which is also not sufficient.”
Earlier this month, Trinity gave international students living on campus 48 hours’ notice to vacate their accommodation due to the coronavirus outbreak. Irish students were given 24 hours’ notice to leave.
After backlash from students, College clarified that residents could stay if they met an expanded set of criteria, including if they faced homelessness, had tested positive for the virus or were self-isolating, or had a family member with the virus.