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Third Level

Government to part-fund 700 student beds to be let at reduced rates under new plans

Higher Education Minister Simon Harris is proposing partially funding the construction of student accommodation for three colleges.

LAST UPDATE | Nov 29th 2022, 2:19 PM

SOME 700 STUDENT beds will be partially funded by the state under plans approved by Cabinet today by Higher Education Minister Simon Harris.

Harris proposed the partial funding the construction of student accommodation for three colleges – Maynooth, Limerick and Galway – with planning permission to be granted in return for ring-fencing rooms at a reduced rate for priority groups.

Some 667 beds would be offered at a reduced rate across these three colleges under Harris’s initial proposals.

Negotiations for similar arrangement will continue with two other colleges, UCD and DCU.

In a press statement, Harris said: “I am pleased today to confirm Government has approved my proposal to directly intervene in the delivery of student accommodation.

“This new policy will unlock the construction of up to 700 beds with further engagement on an additional supply.

“I will also begin to prepare our Technological Universities for the construction of student accommodation. In order for our TUs to thrive and to ensure we have balanced regional development, we need to have more accommodation in our regions.”

If approved, the plan would involve the State assisting with the cost of building student accommodation, in return for affordability commitments on rent, for the first time

A press statement from the Department of Higher and Further Education said that the immediate priority is to activate new supply where planning permission already exists but developments have not proceeded due to increasing construction costs.

A previous student accommodation strategy, agreed in 2016, has been sharply criticised by students’ unions for focusing on purpose-built student accommodation run by private operators.

Such accommodation complexes often have luxury amenities such as cinemas and bowling alleys, and steep rents.

The Union of Students in Ireland has previously argued that college-owned student accommodation would be cheaper.

New rooms opened in Trinity College this year range from €245 to €270 per week, depending on bedroom size, plus €19 per week for utilities.

Harris’s new proposals come after student unions accused the government of presiding over a “catastrophic” shortage of college accommodation.

student 660 A USI housing protest at the Dáil last year Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /
UCD Students’ Union has said that many of its members are being forced to defer their course because they could not find suitable accommodation this year, while others were reported to be taking on “significant debt” to pay for rent.

Additional reporting by Christina Finn

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