The Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton T.D., the Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, T.D. with Minister of State for Housing and Urban Renewal, Damien English, T.D., have launched the National Student Accommodation Strategy in Ireland.
The development of the first National Student Accommodation Strategy is a key action in the Government’s Rebuilding Ireland: Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness. It has been developed by the Department of Education and Skills (DES), together with the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (DHPCLG), as well as key stakeholders, to introduce measures to support the delivery of an increased level of supply of Purpose Built Student Accommodation.
The National Student Accommodation Strategy includes 8 key targets and 27 actions to support the delivery of an increased level of supply of Purpose Built Student Accommodation and an increase in take-up of digs accommodation. The Student Accommodation Strategy complements 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 take up 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 co-operation 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. .
Minister Bruton said: “Housing output fell by over 90%, from 93,000 homes in 2006 to just over 8,301 in 2013. We lost a decade 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.”
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.”