National Student Accommodation Strategy launched

The Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton T.D., the Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, T.D. and Minister of State for Housing and Urban Development, Damien English, T.D., today launched the National Student Accommodation Strategy.

The development of the first National Student Accommodation Strategy is a key action under Rebuilding Ireland and compliments the various initiatives being taken by the Minister for Housing to increase housing supply.

Key actions included in the plan are:

  • Work with the Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and the Housing Finance Agency on potential financing for Purpose-Built Student Accommodation (PBSA)
  • Support DIT to develop an off-balance sheet model to deliver PBSA for 2,000 students in DIT in Grangegorman; explore extending the DIT PBSA delivery model to other IoTs
  • DES and DHPCLG to continue to support the USI #HomesforStudy campaign with a view to increasing the takeup of Digs accommodation; €160,100 funding committed for USI in 2017 and 2018. This will fund a full-time Student Housing Officer, the #homesforstudy campaign and training for student accommodation officers.
  • DHPCLG to continue development of Housing Land Map and database to identify the availability of land for development; DES to work with stakeholders to use this data to identify potential for PBSA and facilitate meetings between parties to drive development
  • Encourage HEIs to allocate additional bed spaces for student parents, lone parents and students with disabilities as additional on-campus bed spaces are delivered. This will be monitored through the interdepartmental group chaired by DES
  • Develop nomination agreements between private providers of PBSA and HEIs to increase the availability of good quality PBSA for students attending HEIs
  • Enhance cooperation between HEI accommodation offices and student unions and/or USI to alleviating difficulties for students in sourcing accommodation
  • HEIs in conjunction with USI and/or local students’ unions to promote awareness of the importance of ‘being a good neighbour’ to students
  • Expand the membership of the Inter-Departmental Steering Group on Student Accommodation
  • USI and interdepartmental committee to develop and carry out periodic National Surveys on Student Accommodation

Each Action Point has been assigned to a key stakeholder or stakeholders and delivery will be monitored.

“Housing output fell by over 90%, from 93,000 homes in 2006 to just over 8,301 in 2013,” Minister Bruton said. “We lost a decade’s worth of home building after the crash of 2008 and the construction industry was in ruins with over 160,000 jobs lost.

“Eleven months into the implementation of Rebuilding Ireland there is strong evidence that the focus on increasing and accelerating supply is starting to work, with planning permissions and commencement notices both up.

“Today, as part of the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan, I am launching the first National Student Accommodation Strategy.

“Since the publication of Rebuilding Ireland last year, 1,117 new student bed spaces have been completed and a further 5,000 are currently under construction. Planning permission has been granted for almost 2,000 student bed spaces and planning applications lodged for a further 3,500. This means that the target to deliver 7,000 new student bed spaces by 2019 is likely to be exceeded.

 

“Through the implementation of this plan we are aiming to deliver an additional 21,000 purpose-built student accommodation bed spaces places by 2024. Through the Student Accommodation Strategy we will ensure that this target can be reached.

“I would like to thank all the stakeholders that participated on the group which drew up this strategy. In particular I would like to acknowledge the positive contribution of the Union of Students of Ireland. My Department has provided financial assistance to the USI to help them run their #homesforstudy Campaign.”

Minister Mitchell O’Connor said:

“There are just over 1,110 more student bed spaces available since autumn 2016 with a further 1,444 coming on stream this autumn. This is good news for students and good news for people looking for accommodation in the private rented sector.

“I’m also delighted that as part of this strategy my Department is supporting the #homesforstudy campaign being run by USI. This funding for USI allows us to support one of the best options to increase supply of student accommodation which is for people to rent a spare room in their home to students. It’s a win-win situation, as students get accommodation and homeowners can earn up to €14,000 a year tax-free doing this.

“The funding we are providing will allow them to significantly bolster their information campaigns with a view to meeting the targets set out in the Strategy.

“Nearly 2,500 students were housed in digs accommodation as a direct result of the USI campaign in 2016. We have set a new target to increase the number of students in digs accommodation by 60% to 4,000 per annum by 2019.”

“I look forward to working with stakeholders in the coming years on implementation of this new strategy, the first of its kind.”

Minister English said:

“I’m pleased that my Department will continue to support the USI #homesforstudy campaign which will be an important support for students in getting digs accommodation and that my Department has been able to put in place a number of legislative innovations which will support the delivery of purpose built student accommodation.

“This includes the fast tracking of planning applications for construction projects of 200+ bedspaces to An Bord Pleanala and the availability of financing from the Housing Finance Agency to eligible higher education institutions for new student accommodation projects.”

Welcoming the strategy, Michael Kerrigan, President of the USI said:

“USI welcome the significant funding proposed by the strategy to alleviate the short-term pressure on students through our Homes For Study campaign and with digs website homes.usi.ie.

“The continued funding by Government will add a level of flexibility and sustainability to address measures in the student accommodation sector, and to assist students in finding appropriate accommodation.”

The National Student Accommodation Strategy is available at www.education.ie.