The Irish Times view on student housing: Acute pressures

Thousands of young people are facing a stressful search for accommodation

As the number of students and available places in third-level colleges expanded, the difficulty in finding a suitable place to stay became acute. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

As the number of students and available places in third-level colleges expanded, the difficulty in finding a suitable place to stay became acute. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

For some students, gaining the CAO points they need is the hard part. For others, finding affordable accommodation as they prepare for college is even more stressful.

That acute pressure is reflected by Garda warnings about scammers who offer accommodation in properties they don’t own, take hefty deposits and then disappear.

September has always been a difficult month for college-bound young people and their parents. As the number of students and available places in third-level colleges expanded, the difficulty in finding a suitable place to stay became acute.

Government support for the construction of designated student accommodation helped, but action to control unwarranted rent increases will only take effect next week. Rising costs now force some students to commute long distances from their homes, spending hours travelling when they might be studying.

More than half of all Irish students live at home

Traditional “digs” with a host family offer the best value, costing – according to various websites – €125-€150 a week. Weekend accommodation and access to a kitchen may not, however, be guaranteed. A place in student halls could cost €500-€600 a month; on-campus rooms €8-€11,000 per annum while shared private rented accommodation may range upwards from €380-€750 a month.

Student union representatives are critical of Government efforts to control rising rents and of the specialised student accommodation being built. The Government plan was to incentivise affordable student housing, they admit, but what is now on offer is the equivalent of expensive, boutique-style hotel rooms.

In the past two years, more than 12,000 purpose-built student units have come on stream or are under construction. A further 8,000 have received planning permission. International students whose fees support third-level colleges are the primary users. More than half of all Irish students live at home. Some commute to Dublin from as far away as Cavan and Limerick. Regional colleges have spread the load but cost remains a crucial factor.

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