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Action must be taken immediately to ensure student renters are not left thousands of euro out of pocket if the new public health measures due to be announced for Dublin today are in line with reports, says the Union of Students in Ireland.

The USI has been repeatedly calling for Government to protect students who had to make decisions on whether to rent accommodation near their colleges, having been left all summer with no clarity on what the new academic year would look like and how much time they would be spending on campus.

USI President, Lorna Fitzpatrick said: “Student safety is our first priority and we will always support and promote the public health advice. If the reports in relation to the Dublin measures are correct, and face-to-face learning is delayed, Government must act immediately to protect and support student renters. We cannot see a repeat of what happened in March where students were left hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of euro out of pocket due to deposits and prepaid rent not being returned.

“And now with new leases having been signed, students will be paying rent on rooms they can’t use or don’t need. If there is a delay in on-campus learning, those who have agreed contracts and leases must be supported to delay the start dates of those leases or to be refunded for rooms that are no longer needed. Institutions and accommodation providers must provide flexible provisions for students. It is not good enough to require students to enter standard agreements – this is not a standard year.”

The USI is also calling on colleges and universities affected by the new public health measures to support students in every way they can by facilitating access to vital on-campus services, where possible. The union is also asking students to watch out for each other as we face into another uncertain period.

Lorna said: “Students feeling isolated is a real concern for us. We know the impact it has on our mental health. Please make sure to reach out to friends and stay in touch, we all need to support each other now. There are resources available 24/7 if you need to get some additional support. You can text ‘Hello’ to 50808 any time, day or night, to speak with a trained volunteer. It is an anonymous and free service and we really do encourage students to use it. All of us in Dublin, and across the island need to reduce our movements to try reduce the spread of this virus to protect ourselves, our families, our friends and our society.”

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