Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Education Charlie McConalogue says the Government’s failure to address shortages in student accommodation has led to a major crisis in the sector.  58,000 students will get their Leaving Cert results tomorrow, but thousands of them embarking on a third level course, will face a huge struggle to secure a place to stay.

Deputy McConalogue explained, “Over the past four years we have seen the situation with student accommodation worsen significantly without any tangible action being taken.  The most this Minister has done in the issue is commission a report into the situation, which to date has still not been published.  The report points to a “significant shortage” in accommodation in all of the main cities, and forecasts that these shortages will remain over the next decade.

“The accommodation crisis has been escalating steadily over the past four years, and is undoubtedly being exacerbated by the overall housing crisis engulfing this country.  The situation is particularly bad in the main cities, where the majority of students will be looking to rent.  Every year students are forced to pay over the odds for very basic accommodation, and in some cases have to take on extended leases in order to secure a house or apartment.  Students are spending weeks on end over the summer months travelling to Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick in search of accommodation, often faced with extortionate rents, which is placing a significant financial burden on them and their families.

“The current situation is a major source of anxiety and stress, not only for the students who will receive their Leaving Cert results tomorrow, but also for the thousands of others who are already in full time third level education.   Every summer they are faced with the same scenario of trekking around these cities in search of new accommodation for the following semester.

“Minister O’Sullivan’s decision to delay the publication of the HEA report is shameful.  She should release the contents and start acting on the recommendations.  She cannot continue hide behind this document and pretend that everything is ok when the situation is now seriously out of control.  New incentives need to be introduced to promote the development of specific student accommodation to increase the number of units available to meet the increasing demand”.