Students are being forced out of college because of rapidly increasing rent costs, the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has said.
The latest report from property website Daft.ie shows rents in Cork, Dublin, Galway and Limerick have increased by as much as 16 per cent over the past year.
The USI said the escalating cost of rent is forcing some students to take leases they cannot afford, sleep on friends’ couches, live in poor quality accommodation and undertake long commutes to college.
“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,” USI president Kevin 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 [to] its lowest level in over five years.
“GDP also grew by almost 5 per cent in 2014 and will grow by 4.9 per cent 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 USI said it would make a submission to the Dáil committee on housing and homelessness urging it to look at the issue of student accommodation.
Mr Donoghue also urged anyone with a spare room to sign up for the USI’s online service advertising “digs” for students, in order to help tackle the student accommodation crisis.
The Daft.ie report said a chronic supply shortage is to blame for the dramatic rise in rent prices over the past year.
The survey found there were fewer properties to rent nationwide at the beginning of May than at any point since records began.
The biggest increase was in Cork city, where rent prices were up by 16 per cent in a year.
There were also significant rent rises in other cities in the year to the end of March, with rents in Galway up 12.7 per cent, rents in Limerick up by 12.4 per cent and those in Waterford city up by 11.1 per cent.