Academic commutes from Dublin to Oxford to save money on rent

Academic commutes from Dublin to Oxford to save money on rent
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Parliament TV

An Oxford University academic will commute by plane and train from Dublin to work because she says she can no longer afford to rent in the city.

Dr Jennifer Cassidy, a lecturer in diplomatic studies, told the BBC she was "heartbroken" to leave the place where she had "built a life" for 12 years but has realised flying from her parent's house to Birmingham and travelling from there by train to Oxford for three days every fortnight was a cheaper option.

"It feels strange not to be in the dreaming spires, but I'm grateful I get to go back and forth and have that link," she said.

Dr Cassidy has taught diplomats from across the world and she is also an assistant dean at one of the colleges.

"The core reason I've been able to sustain myself in Oxford is because I'd been doing three jobs," she added.

"The lecturing, I was also an assistant dean at one of the colleges which provided me with accommodation and food… and consulting work.

"There's no other way I would have been able to afford to live [in Oxford] on the salary alone."

She has arranged for all her essential face-to-face lectures to take place on the three days.

"In the post-Covid world there is an option for most universities - Oxford included - for online learning, but I personally know that most students would like the in-person experience," she explained.

"I believe all students deserve this if they wish to attend.

"I have a roof over my head, food to eat, I have a job, I get to commute... but it hurts, I wanted to stay."

She said she was "saddened" to leave Oxford for "purely financial reasons" but was fortunate to have a job that enabled flexible working.

Douglas Lloyd, associate director at Oxfordshire property agents Finders Keepers, told the BBC the average rent in Oxford - excluding multiple occupation student housing - was about £1,500 per month and that demand was outstripping supply.

In comparison, Dr Cassidy said she could buy flights for between £10 and £30 and her biggest expense was a return train fare from Birmingham to Oxford which was about £30.

The University of Oxford said: "We understand many staff have concerns about the nationwide cost-of-living issues.

"We are a Living Wage employer and have adopted the Oxford Living Wage. Separately, we made two additional payments to university staff in 2022.

"We also maintain a staff hardship fund, which has been set up to aid staff experiencing financial difficulty."

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