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‘Modular housing for students not ruled out’ – Simon Harris

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Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD during a launch of the fourth National Access Plan 2022-2028 - a Strategic Action Plan for Equity of Access, Participation and Success in Higher Education, and announce additional funding of €35 million to deliver on targets at East Quad, TU Dublin, Grangegorman, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney/ Collins Photos

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD during a launch of the fourth National Access Plan 2022-2028 - a Strategic Action Plan for Equity of Access, Participation and Success in Higher Education, and announce additional funding of €35 million to deliver on targets at East Quad, TU Dublin, Grangegorman, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney/ Collins Photos

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD during a launch of the fourth National Access Plan 2022-2028 - a Strategic Action Plan for Equity of Access, Participation and Success in Higher Education, and announce additional funding of €35 million to deliver on targets at East Quad, TU Dublin, Grangegorman, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney/ Collins Photos

Minister for further and higher education Simon Harris has not ruled out building modular housing to accommodate students.

The Government plans to build modular housing, which is cheaper factory made housing, to accommodate Ukrainian refugees.

His comments come as students scramble to find accommodation as colleges are due to start their academic year in the coming weeks.

“We certainly don’t rule out modular [housing],” he said.

“The only thing about modular is in my experience of it, sometimes where you have sites with full planning permission, in some cases, even tenders, it might nearly be as quick to get on with it.

“My priority is to change the student housing policy. I think we’ve been too reliant, to be blunt, on the private market until now. Yes we’ve seen an increase in college owned student accommodation, about 1,200 more student beds owned by colleges available in the next 12 months.

“I’ll be viewing 674 [beds] I think in Galway tomorrow, I saw 250 in Trinity about two weeks ago but it’s not enough.”

The minister recently got Government approval for the taxpayer to subsidise 4,500 student beds in return for cheaper rents by colleges over the next number of years.

“We have to bridge the gap between the college being able to build and affordability.

“For the first time ever, the State will invest and take a stake if it needs to, in bridging that gap. We have about 3,00 college owned accommodation with planning permission that could be built,” he said.

Minister Harris said the Rent a Room scheme will become an “important release valve” post-Covid in accommodating students.

He said social welfare payments will not be affected by those who are renting a room to students and parents with children in college who rent out a room, their student grants will not be affected.


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