Government announces plans for 21,000 additional student beds by 2024

Ministers are hoping to increase the level of 'affordable and appropriate' accommodation for third-level students

Government announces plans for 21,000 additional student beds by 2024

Photo: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

The Government has launched its new plan for student accommodation.

The new strategy aims to deliver an extra 21,000 beds by 2024.

Last year, it was estimated that a further 26,000 student accommodation beds were needed to meet demand.

Since then, a number of student accommodation complexes have opened - though some are billed as luxury accommodation and are out of the price range of most students

The new plan aims to provide a range of affordable housing for students, and Higher Education Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor insisted there needs to be a mix.

She said: "That's the whole point of purpose built student accommodation - to make it affordable, and that it is appropriate for students that are attending college.

“Nearly 2,500 students were housed in digs accommodation as a direct result of the USI [Union of Students in Ireland] 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," she added.

Education Minister Richard Bruton stressed that there needs to be a sustainable model.

He observed: "I don't think I have to tell anyone that we've had a huge accommodation crisis in Ireland over the last number of years.

"[This new plan is] an ambitious strategy [...] In the next two years - to 2019 - the target is 7,000 [beds] - and we believe that with the decisions already made we will exceed that."

The USI, meanwhile, are calling for people to open their homes to students and rent out a room.

USI President Michael Kerrigan believes it can be a stopgap solution for many students who find themselves in a difficult situation.

He argued: "A lot of students might think it's not the ideal scenario to be sharing a house with a family or an elderly person. But for a lot of students, it's a lot better than staying in hostels, staying on friends' couches, staying on floors."

Reporting by Sean Defoe and Stephen McNeice