Saturday 16 February 2019

Deepening housing crisis may force students to give up courses, says union

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Allison Bray

Allison Bray

Hundreds of students face putting their college dreams on hold this autumn due to the housing crisis.

The lack of affordable housing is having a devastating impact on third-level students who may have to forgo attending college or university because they can't find anywhere to live, according to the Union of Students in Ireland (USI).

The current crop of around 47,000 Leaving Cert graduates who have applied for third-level places this autumn - along with around 250,000 returning students - will heap even more pressure on an already dire rental housing market, according to USI deputy president Síona Cahill.

"Colleges are saying there's a demand for 57,000 purpose-built units plus there's a massive number of new students also looking for accommodation," she said.

"There's no doubt there's a student accommodation crisis and we're really concerned that students won't be able to access third-level education this year because of this," she told the Irish Independent.

"We're concerned hundreds of students will be left without."

John Ring, researcher for Knight Frank estate agent, which conducted a survey on student accommodation, warned in May that students face an uphill battle this academic year trying to secure purpose-built accommodation. Despite various projects being under way to build student housing, there just aren't enough units to go around, he said.

"Even if all the delivery takes place between now and 2019, we still won't have enough," he said.

Consequently, third-level students will be forced to compete with families and working professionals seeking private rental accommodation, despite abysmally low vacancy rates and soaring rents.

Even if they secure accommodation, it is often sub-standard as well as being expensive.

The only hope for many students was to secure digs through private homeowners letting out a room in exchange for a €14,000 State tax exemption, Ms Cahill said. "We really need people to be opening up their doors," she added.

Irish Independent

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