USI President, Kevin Donoghue
The Union of Students in Ireland said the unaffordable rental sector is forcing students out of college and is calling on the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Simon Coveney and the Dáil’s committee on housing and homelessness, to consider the student accommodation crisis. Cork, Dublin, Galway and Limerick have seen an increase of up to 16 per cent in the rental sector, according to the latest report by property website Daft.ie. Rents have gone over €1,000 a month nationwide for the first time since 2008.
USI President, Kevin Donoghue, said the escalating cost of rent across Ireland is because of a chronic supply shortage and an increase in demand, which is forcing some students to commit to a lease they can’t afford, sleep on friends’ couches, live in poor quality accommodation or endure long commutes.
“The lack of purpose-built on-campus accommodation, private sector rent increases and the shortage of rental properties continues to fuel a dropout culture in third level education.” Donoghue said. “The accommodation crisis will deter students, especially those from rural areas, from going to college, and long commutes will negatively affect the quality of their college experience.
“We should follow international examples and seek innovative solutions to accommodation shortages. The Irish economy has shown strong signs of recovery over the past few years with the rate of unemployment falling at its lowest level in over 5 years. GDP also grew by almost 5% in 2014 and will grow by 4.9% this year. Ireland remains the fastest growing economy in Europe. It needs to keep accommodation, and student accommodation, at an affordable rate to keep Ireland attractive to foreign investors and students.”
The Dáil’s committee on housing and homelessness will hear from legal experts on the housing crisis today. USI will be making a submission to the committee and is calling on them to consider student accommodation.
USI has campaigned for student accommodation since the 1970s and works with the PRTB, Threshold and other organisations on the issue. In August 2014, USI launched homes.usi.ie as an online service that hosts accommodation advertising ‘digs’ to students all over Ireland as a short-term immediate proactive solution to the student accommodation crisis. Donoghue said anyone with a spare room should sign up and students looking for a short-term solution should consider digs, but emphasised that this is not a long-term solution.