Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) has called for a hybrid learning model to be implemented for those who are commuting or without accommodation.
The proposed model would let students have the choice to attend lectures, seminars and tutorials in person or online in a similar manner to the contingency measures that have been put in place for students who cannot attend classes due to COVID-19.
In a letter published today, TCDSU stated that its proposed hybrid model was “a last resort” and that “there has been an overwhelming increase in students reaching out to the Students’ Union for help because they cannot find somewhere to live in Dublin for the upcoming academic year, i.e. next Monday”.
This comes on the back of the accommodation and cost of living crises, that have seen students struggle to find accommodation, and a request from the Gardaí to be vigilant of accommodation scams.
TCDSU Welfare and Equality Officer Chloe Staunton said that she and the TCDSU Accommodation Advisory Team “continue to put out information to support students in finding safe accommodation — including through the provision of an online DIGs portal” but also that “there is only so much [they] can do when there is next to no accommodation available in the city”.
“We now see an alarmingly high number of students looking to drop-out, defer, commute long distances or arrive in Dublin homeless”, the letter continued.
“This is a crisis that has been building for many years over time, but it has reached a head. I therefore ask the College to offer students the opportunity to engage in hybrid learning if they cannot physically attend — ensuring that they have the option of in-person or online teaching.”
The letter added that Trinity’s plan for COVID-19 contingency measures already included a provision for hybrid learning, and it also requested that this provision be extended to students without accommodation or who face long commutes.
“The Trinity Covid-19 contingency plan notes the need for hybrid learning in instances where students contract Covid. This must be urgently expanded to accommodate the hundreds, if not thousands, of students facing the choice of abandoning their Trinity education or facing homelessness during their studies.”
“We understand that hybrid learning isn’t the solution to the housing crisis”, the letter said, “however, the College has a duty of care to its students, and they need immediate support to continue their studies”.
The letter finished by stating that “learning is impossible if you don’t have a roof over your head. Equally, quality teaching is impossible if you don’t have a roof over your head. The housing crisis is far-reaching and impacts students as well as all staff members”.