December 7, 2021
MacManus says “Student Accommodation Crisis only Worsening” following NUIG meeting

MacManus says “Student Accommodation Crisis only Worsening” following NUIG meeting

Following a meeting with Dr Shazim Husayn NUIG Director of Internationalisation and Director of Global Galway last month, Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus has called for “swift action” from government to address the deepening Student Accommodation Crisis. 

MacManus said, “The main point of conversation with Dr. Husayn was of course student accommodation. The government’s handling of the student accommodation situation is a complete shambles. A new strategy is urgently required that will prioritise delivering publicly owned, affordable student accommodation.”

The Midlands Northwest MEP pointed to specific failings in policy.

“What we are witnessing now is an extension of the failings we’ve seen from successive governments in addressing the housing crisis nationally. There is an obvious over-reliance on the private sector and that approach is simply not working. That over reliance has delivered an inadequate amount of student accommodation at completely unaffordable rental prices.”

“Four years ago we saw Fine Gael bring forward its National Student Accommodation Strategy, but it’s abundantly clear it has been a complete and utter failure. The student accommodation crisis is only worsening.”

MacManus’ party colleague Rose Conway-Walsh TD the Sinn Féin spokesperson on Further and Higher Education, was similarly critical of the failed government strategy. Conway-Walsh commented: 

“The government will claim they met the 7,000 additional student beds set as the minimum target in the strategy. In reality, this target was never capable of meeting the real student housing need. Even within the strategy itself it recognised there were 24,000 students relying on the general private rental market that could not access student specific accommodation.”

“Not only did the government set completely inadequate targets for overall numbers of bed to be added to the system, the plan set no targets for publicly built student accommodation or criteria for affordability. Under eight percent of new student accommodation built since 2017 has been publicly owned, on-campus accommodation. This amounts to only 679 beds.”

“On top of this, colleges increasingly give priority to fee-paying international students for on-campus accommodation in line with government policy. This has led to a situation where up to half of all on-campus student accommodation goes to the more lucrative international students.”

MEP MacManus concluded “A new strategy is urgently required that puts affordability and public ownership at its heart. Better funding for our higher education facilities would allow them to build on-campus accommodation and offer more affordable rents.”

“The current government strategy is putting untold stress and expense on students and their families. Third level education should be a basic human right to any citizen. This government are squeezing out students through their failed policies. The unaffordability of accommodation is cultivating a new education elitism. This is unacceptable and we in Sinn Féin will continue to hold this government to account until the Student Accommodation Crisis is addressed.” ENDS 

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