Sinn Féin spokesperson on Further and Higher Education, Mairéad Farrell TD, has said that the focus on delivering student accommodation cannot neglect the issue of affordability.
Teachta Farrell was responding today to announcements by Minister Simon Harris that new accommodation is to be brought onstream.
Teachta Farrell stated:
“The situation of student accommodation is a disaster and reflects the government’s wider failures in the housing system.
“I know the Minister is trying to increase the supply of student accommodation, but we can’t just have the same approach where all we get is a supply of accommodation that’s completely unaffordable.
“Supply without affordability will either price people out or force them to go into debt just to keep a roof over their heads.
“Take for example my home county of Galway. For those studying in University of Galway for the academic year their monthly rent will be just shy of €820 for a single bed room.
“Let’s say that the student has to pay this themselves. An 18-year-old earning a below minimum wage rate (€9.04), due to the discriminatory nature of the minimum wage legislation, would have to work for 22 hours just cover this cost.
“That’s before they pay for food, study materials, and any kind of social life. It’s also before they find time for all their course commitments.
“It is no wonder so many of our students are stressed out and considering emigration.
“If Minister Harris goes down the same route as Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien, and just keeps telling us that it’s only about ‘supply, supply, supply’, well the simple response from students and parents will be that ‘yes supply is important but it must be matched with; affordability, affordability, affordability’.”