Fianna Fáil Spokesperson for Education and Skills Thomas Byrne says the new Government housing plan does little to deal with the student accommodation crisis.

Deputy Byrne made the comments following today’s publication of the Housing Action Plan.

“It’s disappointing that the Government has failed to set out a clear pathway for dealing with the student accommodation crisis. Thousands of students are already having enormous difficulty in securing suitable accommodation for the coming academic year. The Higher Education Authority has identified a shortfall of at least 25,000 student beds,” said Deputy Byrne.

“The previous Fine Gael / Labour Government gave a firm commitment to begin working on recommendations put forward by the HEA. A new interdepartmental steering group was established to examine its proposals. However, nothing seems to have come of this as there are no new details in today’s action plan.

“This action plan also mentions the need to develop a new borrowing framework for Institutes of Technology to fund infrastructure development, including accommodation. However we were previously led to believe that this was already being pursued by the Department of Education and Skills alongside the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. Today’s action plan does little to advance the progress of this proposed new borrowing framework.

“The action plan mentions the funding model currently being utilised by DIT to build student accommodation at the new Grangegorman campus as a model for future development. However it fails to acknowledge the fact that this project would be substantially cheaper if DIT could borrow in its own right. The delay in dealing with the borrowing power for Institutes of Technology is leading to reduced accommodation supply and increased rent for students.

“It’s important we keep in mind that the failure to provide adequate student accommodation is making the rental crisis much worse. The Government needs to put in place a fund to enable 3rd level institutions to invest in on-campus accommodation. This will have to include tax proposals that will make it attractive for colleges to invest in accommodation. This is the only way we will adequately increase student accommodation,” said Deputy Byrne.