October 26, 2023
Affordability must be key to new student accommodation funding need – Mairéad Farrell TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Further and Higher Education, Mairéad Farrell TD, has today responded cautiously to Minister Harris’ announcement of a new funding stream for the delivery of affordable student accommodation.

Ministers Harris and O’Brien have announced €400m funding from the European Investment Bank (EIB) that will be matched by funding from the Housing Finance Agency (HFA), although as of yet there remains little detail on how this will differ from the current model of delivery.
 
Teachta Farrell stated:

“Of course an announcement of additional funding is welcome, but the main problems in terms of the current delivery model is that it is simply unaffordable.

“We’ve had the delivery of high spec accommodation that can be as much as €12k per year, which puts many students and families out of the running, or forces them to incur a major financial burden.

“We need to see the detail on this and what criteria will be used to set an affordable rate of rent for students. We need to understand what conditionality, if any, will be applied to Universities accessing this funding, to ensure that rents are affordable.
 
“The Minister’s announcement stated that he had ‘received approval to extend this lending to Technological Universities’. To date the Technological Universities have been unable to borrow as there were doubts about whether this borrowing would be on the government’s balance sheet, so we need to hear the details on how/why this has changed.

“We know that the Department of Housing carried over the maximum 10% of its capital budget from last year, and as my colleague Eoin Ó Broin pointed out in today’s Irish Times, they appear to be significantly behind again this year.

“We need to know that they will have a renewed focus to ensure that they will be able to spend this additional funding.”

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