September 20, 2021
Time for a new student accommodation strategy – Rose Conway-Walsh TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Further and Higher Education, Rose Conway-Walsh TD, has labelled the government’s handling of student accommodation an ‘abject failure’ and called for a new strategy that will prioritise delivering publicly owned, affordable student accommodation.

Teachta Conway-Walsh said:

“It is time for a new student accommodation strategy that ends the over-reliance on the private sector that has delivered an inadequate amount of student accommodation at completely unaffordable rental prices.

“In 2017, Fine Gael brought forward its National Student Accommodation Strategy. Now, four years on from its publication, it is clear it has been an abject failure.

“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.

“We need a new strategy for student accommodation that has affordability and public ownership at its heart. We need to increase recurrent and capital funding for institutes higher education to allow them to build on-campus accommodation and offer affordable rents. 

“End the conversion of purpose-built student accommodation to tourist accommodation, and encourage colleges to strike a fair balance between attracting international students and meeting the needs of Irish students.”

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