The Government’s response to the student accommodation crisis has been utterly abysmal according to Fianna Fáil Education Spokesperson Charlie McConalogue.
Deputy McConalogue has welcomed the publication by the HEA of the ‘Report on Student Accommodation: Demand & Supply’ but has questioned why the report was delayed for months by Minister Jan O’Sullivan. But he said the lack of concrete proposals means the crisis will only get worse into the future.
“The fact of the matter is the academic year is underway and thousands of students have accepted college places but are now struggling to find suitable accommodation. The problem is most serious in Dublin, Galway and Cork but there are also shortages in Limerick as well. The HEA report has identified a shortfall of at least 25,000 student beds. Last year there was demand for 57,000 places but supply at the moment is only at just over 31,000.
“I think a lot of people will be surprised to hear Minister Jan O’Sullivan announce today that she is “beginning work straight away” on the report’s recommendations. The Minister has decided to establish a new inter-departmental steering group to explore ways to increase student accommodation availability. She is also giving €30,000 to the Union of Students’ in Ireland to focus on short-term solutions to the immediate crisis facing students, including the rent a room scheme which is encouraging more people to take students into spare rooms in their home.
“Given the fact that the Minister has had this report for months her response today is utterly abysmal. I believe a lot more places could have been made available, even through the rent a room scheme and the campaign being run by USI, if those involved had the advantage of more time. The fact that the Minister is now engaged in a last minute scramble at the start of the academic term is really unfortunate for students and was avoidable.
“I believe we need to see a government fund in place enable 3rd level institutions to invest in on-campus accommodation and tax proposals that will make it attractive for colleges to invest in on-campus housing that would address supply issues and also create revenue streams for colleges.”