Fianna Fáil Education Spokesperson Charlie McConalogue has said students receiving their CAO offers on Monday are facing a major accommodation headache as they begin their search for a place to stay in towns and cities across the country.  Significant shortages in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway will see students struggling to secure a home for the year ahead.

Deputy McConalogue commented, “Over the next few days and weeks students will be accepting their CAO offers, which will determine what college they’ll be going to and the search for accommodation will begin in earnest.  However the challenge facing students this year is more acute than ever because of the escalating housing and homelessness crisis.  This situation has not been helped by the Education Minister continuing to delay on a report which will put forward recommendations on how best to tackle the problem.

“The Higher Education Authority report was due to be published in April, but Minister Jan O’Sullivan has delayed its release time and time again.  Now we have a situation where students are taking up places in colleges and universities without knowing if they have a place to stay.  This report is the cornerstone on which our future accommodation needs and provision should be based, but the Minister is continuing to hold off on letting people see it.

“This should be an exciting time for students as they move away from home for the first time and start a new college life.  However, this new adventure is being tainted by worry and anxiety as they face into an uphill struggle to find suitable affordable accommodation.  The situation is made all the more difficult this year because the national housing and homelessness crisis is feeding into the problem.  The Government’s abject failure to address mortgage arrears, spiralling private sector rents or to increase its social housing programme has seen a major increase in the number of families who have fallen into homelessness.  There is a severe lack of available housing units to cater for these families, let alone students, who will not be a priority category.

“Minister O’Sullivan needs to stop burying her head in the sand and deal with the current crisis.  I’m calling on her to publish the HEA report without delay so that the recommendations can be examined and adopted.  Until its publication, any student accommodation programme is on hold and the problems that are being felt so acutely this year will continue to worsen”.