Overcrowding, sex-for-rent ads, scams and high rents – International students seriously affected by housing crisis, ICOS report shows
The housing crisis is deeply affecting international students who come here to study, negatively impacting on their student experience and putting Ireland’s reputation abroad at risk. That’s according to Executive Director of the Irish Council for International Students (ICOS), Laura Harmon, speaking about a new report published by the organisation today (14.11.23).
The report reveals that many international students in Ireland are experiencing significant challenges with their accommodation. Its findings detail instances of serious overcrowding, scamming, unaffordable rents, sub-standard accommodation, long commutes, and exposure to proposals for a room in exchange for sex.
A total of 819 international students from 73 countries participated in ICOS’ research, which was conducted using an online survey in several languages. The survey included responses from international students in higher education (46%) and English language students (54%). Respondents were asked about their experiences in relation to accommodation in Ireland.
Key findings in the report include:
- More than 1 in 10 (13%) of respondents said that they have been a victim of an accommodation scam while in Ireland with only 11% of those scammed reporting this to the Gardaí.
- 5% of respondents had either been directly offered a room in exchange for sex or seen an ad for a room in exchange for sex.
- 81% of English language students and almost a third (31%) of students studying in higher education share a room with at least one other person.
- 55% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that their mental health has suffered due to the housing crisis in Ireland.
- 1 in 10 respondents said that it took them more than 100 days to find accommodation in Ireland.
- Just 54% of respondents in higher education and 44% of English language students said they have a lease agreement.
- 10% of respondents live more than 15 kilometres away from their college or school.
- 10% said they pay more than €1,000 in rent per month.
- A third of respondents found accommodation through a friend; this was followed by social media (27%), their school or college (15%), Daft.ie or other similar websites (14%), or through a letting agency (7%).
- Overall, nearly half (47%) of respondents were not satisfied with their accommodation.
Commenting on the findings, Laura Harmon said: “The housing crisis is jeopardising Ireland’s excellent reputation as a study destination and risks undermining the fantastic work being done in colleges across the country, which go above and beyond to create a quality student experience in Ireland.
“It is important that we listen to first-hand accounts and experiences of students, understand them, and take action to address them. Among a range of other serious issues, we are particularly concerned about the evidence of predators seeking sex in lieu of rent and are calling for urgent legislation to clamp down on this.”
Other recommendations outlined by ICOS in its report include:
- The construction of more affordable, purpose-built student accommodation;
- An increase in inspections of private rental properties and follow-up to ensure minimum standards are met;
- Clear accommodation targets for the student population;
- Targeted information campaigns to prospective students about how to find accommodation in Ireland; and
- A new student accommodation strategy.
Laura Harmon added: “The lack of affordable accommodation requires urgent action. Progress is too slow when it comes to building purpose-built student accommodation. Ireland needs clear student accommodation and international education strategies that focus on ensuring that students who study here have safe, affordable, places to live. We urge the Government to implement the recommendations in our report.’’