Gozitan students were being priced out of the rental market and forced to cross over to Malta every day, the Gozitan University Group said yesterday.

The group said it had been contacted by numerous students this year who reported having to make the channel crossing on a daily basis because they could not find affordable accommodation in Malta.

The problem was becoming more acute as the years went by, the group noted.

Finance Minister Edward Scicluna said on Thursday the government would be addressing the increase in rent rates by rolling out incentives in the upcoming Budget to increase the supply of property on the market and keep prices affordable.

The government has, so far, resisted calls to intervene directly in the market by regulating rent rates. The organisation said landlords preferred to rent out to wealthy foreigners, who could pay €1,000 monthly rates, rather than “a couple of Gozitan students”.

Landlords increasing rents every year, regardless of any grants to students

It countered arguments that Gozitan students were favoured over their Maltese counterparts in terms of the financial grants given to them.

The group said the €500 grant, given every three months, was not enough to keep up with the living expenses faced by Gozitan students.

Gozitan students, the group contended, had to spend large amounts of money to enjoy the same university experience as their Maltese counterparts.

“If we boast that Malta has the right to free education, then why is it that Gozitans have to pay so much more money in the name of education?” it asked.

Students were still dependent on their parents, causing a huge financial strain on the entire family, the group noted, adding it had spoken to the “authorities” about raising the grant but to no avail.

It said the authorities had argued that if the grant given to Gozitan students was raised, landlords would only increase rents in response.

The group admitted it was sceptical about such an argument, saying that landlords were increasing rents every year, regardless of any grants.

Talks, it added, were also held with the President in a bid to obtain funds for “less privileged” students to make the transition from Gozo to Malta easier.

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