Accommodation increasingly difficult for students without grants in Lisbon and Porto

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The cost of accommodation continues to be the biggest difficulty for university students in Lisbon and Porto, and for middle-class families without access to a scholarship, warn academic federations.

More and more students are dropping out of public higher education after the first year of their course, according to data from the Infocursos portal, and although the problem is not as serious in the Lisbon and Porto institutions, student representatives say that the difficulties are affecting a greater number of young people who are considering abandoning their studies or finding alternatives.

“The number of students who have already considered leaving higher education continues to rise and this is something that worries us a lot,” the president of the Academic Federation of Porto (FAP) told Lusa, stressing that accommodation is the main factor.

In Invicta, a room costs an average of 400 euros per month, slightly less than in Lisbon, where rents are around 450 euros, according to the Student Accommodation Observatory.

“It’s unaffordable for a middle-class family,” said Francisco Fernandes, who pointed out that the cost of accommodation no longer only affects the most needy students, those on scholarships and with access to supplementary accommodation, but also those who, not meeting the requirements to receive a scholarship, have difficulty finding a room that their family can afford.

From the Lisbon Academic Federation (FAL), Catarina Ruivo added that many of the students who rent a room are in fragile situations, without a lease and subject to indiscriminate rent increases.

“We’ve received reports of students having their rent increased twice in the same academic year,” he told Lusa.

This situation leads many young people to consider dropping out of university or to choose alternatives that allow them to continue studying, even at the expense of their quality of life and well-being.

One of the increasingly common solutions is to continue living at home with your parents and making long journeys every day to get to school, said the FAP president.

“There are students getting up at 5 a.m. to have classes at 8 a.m., students who live beyond Braga and Penafiel,” he explained, noting that, in addition to the distance, the journeys take longer because, in most cases, public transport is not very accessible.

“They have to get up very early and get home very late in order to continue studying in higher education. It’s particularly difficult and exhausting,” said Francisco Fernandes, stressing that for many, it’s the only option.

At the end of last year, FAL released a survey which revealed that a third of students have already considered leaving higher education. Most pointed to mental health as the most important factor, but the associated costs came next, with accommodation representing the most important expense.

Concerned about the situation, the leaders of the two academic federations warn that the National Plan for Accommodation in Higher Education is not enough and defend the need to strengthen support for accommodation for all students, not just scholarship holders.

“In September, the number of places will probably increase again, we’ll have more students in higher education, and the number of beds built was not at all enough to accommodate the new students,” Catarina Ruivo said.

Moti Shabi
Moti Shabi
Moti Shabi

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