Posts Tagged ‘ NUI Galway ’

Rent-a-Room: The Solution To Student Housing In Galway?

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With the ever-rising costs of living and the high rates for rent in Galway, students are struggling to find affordable accommodation for the new term. The Rent-a-Room tax relief scheme allows a homeowner to accrue a tax free income of up to €10,000 per annum. Aidan Clifford, technical director of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants promotes the idea, citing that “The Rent-A- Room relief is a good option for Galway home owners with a spare room located near good transport routes”. But is this what is best for both the homeowners and the students? On the surface this wonderful scheme seems ideal, with the homeowners able to earn potentially tax free earnings and students being able to find affordable accommodation, yet there seems little structure or security for the tenant and the homeowner seems to hold all the power unmonitored.

The intrusion of opening your home to a total stranger is daunting at best, especially if that person is a lively, energetic teenager free from the shackles of his/her parents for the first time. Homeowners have earned the right to enjoy the privacy and safety they have worked so hard for and giving that up will not be an easy decision for anyone. The cold hard fact that the cost of living is higher than ever, and that jobs are sparse could cause many who are not prepared for such responsibility to do so out of necessity as opposed to choice. The elderly people touted as ideal for the programme may not be able to cope with the arrival of a young person in their living space. Students are notoriously loud, disruptive and often seen as a nuisance in big college or university towns. How would an elderly person cope with a nineteen year old man bringing home his drunken classmate for a roll in the hay at 3am? They won’t, they can’t. It is as simple as that. The risk to some potential “landlords” in this case seem to be vastly under examined, as are the dangers to the students in question. Continue reading

Taking a Leaf From Our Neighbour’s Road Law Book

carUK Transport Minister Patrick McLoughlin has announced he is considering a proposal to restrict newly qualified drivers from carrying any non-family member passengers. The new proposals are a response to the Association of British Insurers which is arguing that a disproportionate number of serious road accidents involve younger drivers.

The reasoning behind such a move is clear; younger drivers with little experience, more often than not male, are tempted to show off behind the wheel, particularly if a girlfriend or fellow male friends are travelling alongside them, something which might not be so easy to accomplish should their parents be sitting alongside. “I read regular reports where three or four young people have been killed in a car and it’s a new driver, and you wonder what happened,” said McLoughlin, speaking to The Telegraph. “When I talk to young people who have recently passed their test what they say sometimes there is peer pressure is put on them to go fast, to show off. They are not anticipating an accident, but something goes wrong. They are not drivers with a huge amount of experience by the very fact of their being new drivers. I think we have got to look at that.”

Based on the 2010 road crash statistics, published in January of this year, males are three times as likely to be fatally injured in a road crash as opposed to females. In 2010, amongst all car drivers, 17-24 year old male drivers were five times as likely to die as any other group. Last year a study on the psychology of risky driving behaviours carried out by the Dr Kiran Sarma at NUI Galway revealed some disturbing insights, particularly into the driving mindset of young male drivers. One in five aged 17-24 admitted that they had engaged in racing on the roads while they also scored the highest percentage in the category of drivers who thought it both acceptable to break the speed limit while overtaking and to continue driving through amber traffic lights. Biological studies have shown that the part of the brain which involves risk assessment doesn’t develop properly until the age of 25 and as a result, Dr Sarma claimed, young drivers tend to overestimate their ability behind the wheel. “Research tells us that this group of road-users is three times more likely to be killed on the roads than any other road-user,” said Mr Noel Brett, Chief Executive of the Road Safety Authority. “In fact, 5,678 young road-users with their lives ahead of them were killed or seriously injured on Irish roads in the period 1997 to 2009. This is roughly the same as the population of Westport in Co. Mayo. When you think of it in those terms, we are reminded of how needless this loss of life is.”

Ireland does have measures in place to tackle young drivers’ lack of experience and thus their reckless behaviours such as the requirement to undertake a set number of lessons from an approved driving instructor as well as the need to have a fully licensed driver in the car at all times. Unfortunately, like the proposed UK rule, these measures are quite difficult to enforce, and chance is a major factor in catching those who flout the rules – it’s very easy to take your learner plates down from the windows and simply drive by unnoticed.  Operation Learner Driver which was carried out by the Gardaí on March 1st, March 2nd and April 19th involved stopping 2,200 learner drivers. 43 per cent were found to be unaccompanied by a full license holder while 30 per cent failed to display their ‘L’ plates. And in some cases, both offences were committed by the same driver. “There is also an issue of parental responsibility involved here,” said Noel Brett, “and I would appeal directly to the parents of young learner drivers to stop turning a blind eye to what’s going on and do not allow their son or daughter access to a vehicle unless they are accompanied and have L-plates displayed.”

Some might argue that the need to have only family members in the car alongside learner drivers would be an extra unnecessary impediment on this particular group of motorists. But the fact of the matter is that these are the ones who are most at risk on our roads. Perhaps we can follow the lead of our closest neighbours and look in to appropriating some of their ideas and the effect of a disapproving parental gaze might just save a few lives.

College Course Dissatisfaction

Students across the country are unhappy with their college courses and various aspects contained within them. If a survey recently performed by a well respected student website is to believed.

The survey done by student website campus.ie has shown that just over a third of students in third level education on Ireland are  unhappy with college courses be it in their composition, their promises or their real world worth. Out of 3,894 students surveyed, 44% of students said they would take a different course if they could go back and fill out the CAO again, an imposing figure considering university today and its supposed high levels of education.

This may be down to a lack of clear explanations and outlines to what the course actually entails. Many college prospectuses’ can be too convoluted and may require a better knowledge of the course subject than obtained at second level. This is shown in that 30% of students noted that their college prospectus didn’t accurately describe their course.

The high levels of dissatisfaction with their chosen course according to the survey may be linked to the notion that students did not feel themselves accurately prepared for college after completion of secondary school. Campus.ie surveyed that 38% of students felt that second level education did not accurately prepare them for college.

And once in college, stress has also shown to be a major factor in the completion of third level degrees with 66% of students having considered dropping out due to stress.

These factors are leading to a large amount of students leaving third year education in turmoil and incoming students feeling even more pressure as they struggle to pick the right course.