The launch of the National Student Accommodation Strategy has recently been announced by several government ministers*. It come’s at a time when students will be beginning their search for accommodation for the oncoming term & encountering such issues as landlord’s looking for 2 months rent as a deposit and ever increasing rents for rental accommodation in popular destinations as Cork and Dublin.
A recent article from the Irish Independent has shown that while demand for student beds is put at 57,075 this year, only 33,441 spaces are available in dedicated student complexes, whether on campus or developed by private providers. The article also raised the concern from USI president Michael Kerrigan that “whilst the continued increase in dedicated student accommodation facilities were being increased, already we’re seeing newly built student accommodation climbing to almost €1,000 a month,” he said, warning that students were being priced out.
The National Student Accommodation Strategy includes 8 key targets and 27 actions to support the delivery of an increased level of supply of Purpose Built Student Accommodation and an increase in take-up of digs accommodation. The Student Accommodation Strategy compliments the various initiatives being taken by the Minister for Housing to increase housing supply.
Key actions included in the plan are:
- Work with the Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and the Housing Finance Agency on potential financing for Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA)
- Support DIT to develop an off-balance sheet model to deliver PBSA for 2,000 students in DIT in Grangegorman; explore extending the DIT PBSA delivery model to other IoTs
- DES and DHPCLG to continue to support the USI #HomesforStudy campaign with a view to increasing the take up of Digs accommodation; €160,100 funding committed for USI in 2017 and 2018. This will fund a full-time Student Housing Officer, the #homesforstudy campaign and training for Student Accommodation Officers.
- DHPCLG to continue development of Housing Land Map and database to identify the availability of land for development; DES to work with stakeholders to use this data to identify potential for PBSA and facilitate meetings between parties to drive development
- Encourage HEIs to allocate additional bed spaces for student parents, lone parents and students with disabilities as additional on campus bed spaces are delivered. This will be monitored through the interdepartmental group chaired by DES
- Develop nomination agreements between private providers of PBSA and HEIs to increase the availability of good quality PBSA for students attending HEIs
- Enhance co-operation between HEI Accommodation Offices and Student Unions and/or USI to alleviating difficulties for students in sourcing accommodation
- HEIs in conjunction with USI and/or local students’ unions to promote awareness of the importance of ‘being a good neighbour’ to students
- Expand the membership of the Inter-Departmental Steering Group on Student Accommodation
- USI and interdepartmental committee to develop and carry out periodic National Surveys on Student Accommodation
Each Action Point has been assigned to a key stakeholder or stakeholders and delivery will be monitored.
*(Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton T.D., the Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, T.D. and Minister of State for Housing and Urban Renewal, Damien English, T.D.)