02 September, 2015 - Minister O’Sullivan publishes HEA report on Student Accommodation

The Minister for Education & Skills, Jan O’Sullivan TD, today welcomed the publication of the Report on Student Accommodation: Demand & Supply.

Commenting on the publication, Minister O’Sullivan said “There have been clear concerns over recent times regarding the availability of accommodation for students in certain areas, and that’s why I asked the Higher Education Authority to report on this issue.  The report published today sets out clearly that the demand for student accommodation outstrips supply in certain areas and will continue to do so in the coming years. 

“There are 13 useful recommendations in this report.  I am beginning work straight away with Government colleagues and stakeholders to explore ways to increase the availability of student accommodation where needed, including by developing the recommendations made in this report as well as exploring other potential options.  These recommendations include capital financing, tax considerations and planning issues, as well as support for the rent-a-room scheme.

“Today, I am announcing two immediate actions to begin this work. 

“The first of these is the immediate establishment of an inter-departmental steering group to oversee this work. This group will be chaired by the Deputy Secretary General in my Department with overall responsibility for Higher Education and will include officials from the Higher Education Authority, Department of Finance, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Department of Environment and Local Government. This group will provide a coordinating mechanism to ensure that the higher education institutions have access to information on new potential funding and delivery models.

“The second action I am announcing today is the awarding of a grant of €30,000, which will be provided by the HEA to the Union of Students’ in Ireland to progress short-term solutions for students in need of accommodation. In the short term, one of the best options to increase supply 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 €12,000 a year tax-free doing this. I know that students unions ran very good information campaigns about this last year, such as the USI's "Homes for Study".  The funding being provided today will allow USI to develop their homes.usi.ie website, to communicate more effectively to student and homeowners, and to carry out research into this important issue.

“In the longer term, the Government is committed to addressing the housing shortage through the Construction 2020 strategy. This will not resolve all of our problems immediately, but I am confident that the implementation of Construction 2020 will provide us with a sustainable housing stock in the medium to longer term.”

Welcoming the publication of the report, Tom Boland, CEO of the Higher Education Authority added: “Ensuring that both domestic and international learners have suitable accommodation while studying at our colleges is essential to meet growing demand. We look forward to playing our part on the new interdepartmental working group to seek ways to ensure that students have access to appropriate accommodation.”

Speaking at the announcement, USI President, Kevin Donoghue said: “USI welcomes the move to support our campaign around the rent a room scheme. This will allow us to provide additional space for students that is quality and affordable. This action shows that the Minister is taking the issue of student accommodation seriously and recognizes the work already undertaken by USI.”

The report is available at: http://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Education-Reports/Report-on-Student-Accommodation-Demand-and-Supply.pdf