A website to help students find accomodation for Erasmus
The availability of affordable student accommodation is a major problem in Ireland. This becomes even more of an issue for Erasmus and International students who come to Ireland for a study abroad semester. Most rental contracts are for a minimum of a year, which causes major problems for exchange students who come for an average of 4 months and can’t afford to pay for a year-long contract. As well as this, shorter term rental opportunities such as Airbnb do not rent for longer than a few weeks, so the issue of finding exchange student accommodation falls in a middle ground. The challenges I faced when undertaking my own Erasmus+ Internship in Barcelona, Spain, as well as the experiences of other exchange students I talked to whilst I was there, helped me understand the problem itself.
HostStay provides a free and simple way for Erasmus and International students to search for and secure accommodation for their study abroad semester. HostStay also allows hosts to enter details of accommodation they have to rent both now and in the future. Students can search existing listings either based on distance from the university, cost per month and room type, or they can post a request for a room if they are having difficulty finding a room. Hosts can either publish a listing showing the room(s) they have to offer, or can respond to requests for accommodation that students have posted.
The main aim of this project was to build a sharing economy web platform for Erasmus and International students in an attempt to alleviate the unnecessary stress that these students face when trying to secure accommodation. The next major aim was to develop user interfaces that met the needs of both students and hosts, thus creating a pleasant user experience for all. To achieve these aims, I used a co-design approach throughout which required obtaining feedback from UL Erasmus students and local host families for each step of my iterative web design process. I started by conducting an online survey with UL Erasmus and International students, followed by in-depth interviews with selected Erasmus students and host families based in the areas surrounding UL. Finally, I conducted a co- design workshop with a small group of Erasmus students studying at UL. These were invaluable in helping me develop my web prototype. This prototype was re-evaluated by potential users using a cooperative evaluation generating my final design. I believe this final design is a user friendly solution for exchange students both at the University of Limerick and universities elsewhere.