'Weakness' in timing of rent pressure zone law - minister
Education Minister Joe McHugh has said he is "disappointed" universities have increased the cost of student accommodation before the new term but admitted a "weakness" in legislation allowed them hike prices.
Mr McHugh also urged third-level institutions to consider the impact of the rent increases on families who are already struggling to cover the cost of sending their children to university.
Speaking after the Irish Independent revealed students are facing significant rent hikes this year, the minister said: "I'm just disappointed that they went for the increase to be honest, especially at a time when there is major pressure on parents."
He said there were "genuine worries" among parents over the cost of third-level education.
Asked if the Government should have foreseen the hikes, he said: "You can push for legislation and you can work towards time frames and you can attempt to get to a certain point and obviously the willingness was there but obviously there was a weakness here in terms of the timing."
Mr McHugh's comments follow criticisms of Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy's failure to pre-empt universities increasing student accommodation costs when he enacted rent pressure zone legislation.
In May, new laws were passed which included student accommodation in rent pressure zones for the first time.
However, the legislation will not come into force until next week. As a result, universities had three months to increase prices ahead of the new term.