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17/10/2021

Crisis: one student bed-space for every four applications at one university

Crisis: one student bed-space for every four applications at one university

The demand for accommodation for students has been laid bare by one university which states that they have four applications for every bed-space available, with students turning to B&Bs and hotels. 

In a statement this week, Dublin City University said it like many universities across Ireland is experiencing unprecedented demand for on-campus accommodation.

"We receive at least four applications for every bed-space available for on-campus accommodation and we have now allocated all our rooms with a waiting list in operation," its statement outlined. 

"While DCU doesn't have any evidence to date of deferrals due to lack of accommodation we are aware from our Student’s Union of the significant pressure this deficit is putting on students and their families. Local hotels and B&B's are being utilised by students as a stopgap but this is not sustainable," the university added. 

"There is a significant crisis in student accommodation that has only been exacerbated by the lack of a sustainable and economically viable housing model for student accommodation both off campus and on campus. 

"While DCU Campus Residences offers one of the least expensive on campus accommodation in the Dublin area, the demand for affordable student accommodation is a major issue for the student population," the statement added.

DCU said the state needs to provide mechanisms to support the construction of additional affordable student accommodation which, in turn, would relieve pressure on housing supply. 

"The Government’s ‘Housing for All’ plan correctly identifies the provision of additional student accommodation as part of the overall solution.  However, the plan’s suggestion that the extension of borrowing facilities to institutions across the third level system will solve the supply issue is based on a false assumption.   

"Even with the availability of cost effective loans from the European Investment Bank and the Housing Finance Agency, escalating construction costs mean that it is now simply uneconomic for universities to undertake the construction of student accommodation. 

"Currently, the cost of constructing a single additional student bed is in excess of €150,000 and this is likely to increase further with construction sector inflation running in excess of 10% p.a. The rental levels which would have to be charged to finance the construction and provide for the ongoing investment to maintain the accommodation, would be beyond the ability to pay of most students and their families," the statement added.

President of DCU, Daire Keogh said, ‘Demand is now far outstripping supply. This will inevitably create a family-income-based barrier for entry into Higher and Further Education.  A sustainable solution is urgently required to enable the sector to provide additional affordable student accommodation. 

"This will necessitate creative solutions and incentives to make the construction and maintenance of new student accommodation economic and enable Universities to offer accommodation at an affordable price,” he said.

Terence Rooney, DCU Student Union President said: “Not only is accommodation unaffordable, but it’s now completely unavailable. The Student Housing Crisis has been one of the main issues for students over the last few years, but it has worsened significantly this year.

"We are seeing B&Bs and hotels in the surrounding areas filling up to capacity as a means of emergency accommodation for students, and many students will choose to defer as attending college this year is simply unaffordable and unsustainable. Regardless of how much your family can contribute towards housing, there is nowhere for students to stay. Immediate action is required, or we will see more and more students deferring and dropping out,” Mr Rooney said. 

Meanwhile, the Labour housing spokesperson has said the student accommodation crisis is another symptom of a failed approach to housing in this country.

In advance of USI’s No Keys No Degrees protest today, Senator Rebecca Moynihan said Government needs to start investing in student accommodation and stop allowing providers or colleges to treat them as cash cows.

“The situation we find ourselves in is a symptom of the lack of control, planning or indeed purpose with our housing strategy overall. Rather than having a coherent and cohesive plan for students, this Government is failing to manage housing on the most basic of levels. What message does this send to the young people of Ireland, the future of our country?" Senator Moynihan said.

“Students need affordable and purpose-built housing. Not only for themselves but for the whole market. Due to the pandemic, we have a situation where many landlords that previously offered places to students have now pivoted to using their accommodation for families.

"This is a larger symptom of the total dearth of supply in the market and an offset of the five wasted years of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil when it comes to building homes for people," she said.

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