ICOS' response to National Student Accommodation Strategy
The National Student Accommodation Strategy is a welcome step, but more needs to be done
"While the National Student Accommodation Strategy is a welcome step towards resolving many of the issues around student housing, there are some areas that are not addressed in this strategy that are of particular concern to international students.
"Principle among these is that there is little mention of efforts to tackle affordability. In particular, the vast majority of purpose-built student accommodation that has come on to the market in the last couple of years is well beyond what many students can afford, and similar units due to come into the market in the coming years are expected to be likewise.
"This disproportionately affects international students, who usually prefer this type of accommodation because they are unfamiliar with the private rental market and are therefore more vulnerable to fraud and unscrupulous landlords.
"In EU research released earlier this year, 77% of international students in Ireland found rents more expensive than expected, up to 30% reported experiencing fraud or attempted fraud, and 12% reported experiencing discrimination. Properly resourced international offices and more affordable purpose-built student accommodation are important elements in creating a more positive experience for international students who choose to study in Ireland."
Full Statement from ICOS here:
The Irish Council for International Students (ICOS) welcomes the launch of the National Student Accommodation Strategy as an important step in identifying solutions to the current challenges in the student housing sector.
In particular, we welcome the projections of 9,000 additional purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) bed spaces by 2019, and 21,000 by 2024. The announcement of the intention to release Quarterly Reports tracking progress against these projections is a positive development, as is the announcement that the inter-departmental steering group on student accommodation will continue to meet.
ICOS also acknowledges the positive role played by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) through their #HomesforStudy campaign and their National Student Housing Survey, which when published will provide important data on the experiences of students.
However, the absence of new approaches addressing the issue of affordability is disappointing, as current rents of up to €1000 per month for many PBSA bed spaces are well beyond what most students, including international students, can afford. The contention that the most effective way to reduce and stabilise rents in the long-term is to increase supply may be valid, however the strategy projects an unmet demand for PBSA in 2024 of 20,986, a decrease of just 11% over 7 years.
Without immediate strategies to address the affordability of student housing, many of the current difficulties faced by students will persist. In particular, the lack of affordability of PBSA units - most notably many of those recently entering the market - forces students to turn to the private rented sector, where international students are especially vulnerable to discrimination, fraud and unscrupulous landlords. ICOS believes that increased efforts are required to find ways to address the issue of affordability in the short and medium term.
ICOS also notes that, while the current difficulties in the student housing market are impacting upon all students, international students are particularly affected as they simultaneously face the challenges of adapting to a new country, culture and academic environment. ICOS recognises the central role that accommodation and international offices of HEIs play in assisting international students in particular to secure accommodation that is both affordable and suitable. However, in light of government targets seeking to increase the number of international students studying in Ireland by 27% over the next two years, they will need increased resources to meet the expected increase in demand for their services.
Research referred to above on international students' experiences of the housing market in Ireland is available here.
For further information contact:
Programme & Communications Officer
Irish Council for International Students
Tel: (01) 660 5233