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Vulture funds now own more student accommodation in Dublin than DCU, UCD and Trinity combined

Investment funds are on track to own more student accommodation than universities across the country in the coming years.

VULTURE FUNDS NOW own more student accommodation in Dublin than DCU, UCD and Trinity College combined, with 7,538 beds compared to 5,602.

The situation is the same in Cork where investment funds own at least 3,099 student accommodation beds compared to the 1,530 beds owned by University College Cork. 

The research obtained by The Journal was undertaken by Sinn Féin TD Mairéad Farrell who has said the situation is causing misery for students. 

Farrell, who is Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on further and higher education, made the point that this type of accommodation is “completely unaffordable” for most students and their parents. 

Farrell’s research shows that for the cheapest single room occupancy, the average weekly rate is €268 (€1,072 a month). 

On top of this, many of the investment funds require that the room is rented for the entire year, not just the academic year which is significantly shorter.

“Students will have been horrified to find one Dublin provider offers a deluxe one-bedroom apartment for a duration of 40 weeks at a cost of €26,520,” Farrell said.

“To put that in context, a student who decided to skip all their classes and instead work a full-time minimum wage job and saved all their earnings wouldn’t be able to cover it.”

A report by EY found that 80% of rooms are occupied by international students.

‘Conservative estimate’ 

Purpose-built student accommodation was almost non-existent a decade ago, but Farrell said it has “exploded” in recent years. 

The Galway West TD has identified around 40 different locations owned by investment funds across the country with a total of almost 12,000 beds. 

This compares to 14,517 owned by universities. 

She makes the point that her calculations are likely to be a conservative estimate, as new ones are coming on steam all the time. 

Unlike Dublin and Cork, in Galway the University of Galway still has more than twice the amount of beds than those owned by vulture funds. 

But with planning permission having been applied for or granted to a significant number of new developments, that could soon change, Farrell warned.

Last year, Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris said planning permission has been granted for an additional 11,008 beds.

Farrell said this means it is likely that in the next few years, investment funds will surpass universities as the primary provider of student accommodation across the state. 

“Some might say, what’s the harm in this? If they are increasing the supply of beds available then surely that’s a good thing. 

“After all, as the Government continually tell us the key to solving the housing crisis is ‘supply, supply, supply’. Unfortunately, in the real world the type of supply matters,” Farrell said. 

“Affordability matters. The real life experience of students matter.”  

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