Decisive measures needed to tackle student accommodation crisis – Byrne

Published on: 23 August 2016

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education and Skills Thomas Byrne TD has said the combination of rising rental prices and lack of supply of accommodation will prohibit a large proportion of third level students from living within a reasonable distance of their campus.

Deputy Byrne was responding to the publication of the latest Daft rental report which shows rent rose by 3.9% between April and June this year, representing the largest three month increase since 2007.

“Compared to other countries, student residence accommodation is in short supply in Ireland. Just 11% of students are accommodated in such student residences, leading to 25,000 students having to undertake a frantic search for private rented accommodated each year.

“However as a result of the situation in the rental market in urban areas, students are simply not able to compete. I have been critical that the new Government housing plan does little to deal with the student accommodation crisis.

“Both short-term and medium term solutions are required. In the short-term, the Higher Education Authority in conjunction with the Private Residential Tenancies Board should be undertaking targeted campaigns to promote student digs and to incentivise households to open up rooms to students from September.

“It is however important to recognise that these short term measures are only sticking plasters, and cannot be used as a substitute for building new student residences. I have been vocal in urging the Government to develop a new borrowing framework for Institutes of Technology to fund infrastructure development, including accommodation construction. The delay in enhancing the borrowing power for Institutes of Technology is leading to reduced accommodation supply and increased rent for students.

“The Government housing action plan mentions the Grangegorman funding model currently being utilised by Dublin Institute of Technology as a model for future development of student accommodation. However it fails to acknowledge the fact that this project would be substantially cheaper if DIT could borrow in its own right.

“It is 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 third 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 on a long term basis,” concluded Deputy Byrne.

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