Two-thirds of international students in Ireland report that the accommodation crisis has impacted their mental health
New survey on impact of accommodation crisis on international students highlights urgent need for action
“Many international students in Ireland are facing hugely challenging conditions that negatively impact their health and overall wellbeing as a direct result of the housing crisis in Ireland.” 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 (26.10.22).
A total of 465 international students from 62 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 and English language students. Respondents were asked about their experiences in relation to accommodation in Ireland.
Key findings set out in the report include:
- 66% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that their mental health has suffered due to the accommodation crisis in Ireland;
- More than 1 in 10 (14%) of respondents said that they have been a victim of an accommodation scam while in Ireland, of whom a quarter were English language students;
- Less than a third (28%) of respondents who fell victim to an accommodation scam reported the incident;
- 74% of English language students and more than a quarter (29%) of students studying in higher education share a room with at least 1 other person;
- 1 in 10 respondents said that it took them in excess of 100 days to find accommodation in Ireland;
- Just 41% of English language students said they have a lease agreement;
- Overall, 54% of respondents said they were satisfied with their accommodation. However, just 41% of English language students reported being satisfied with their accommodation. Conversely, 71% of Erasmus and 79% Study Abroad students agreed that they were satisfied with their accommodation;
- 32% of all respondents said they pay their rent in cash, with half of English language student respondents reporting that their rent was paid in cash
Commenting on the findings, Ms Harmon said: “Our report shows that the accommodation crisis is hitting international students particularly hard. Of those who participated in our research, 66% said their mental health has been impacted by the accommodation crisis.
“It is important that we listen to first-hand accounts and experiences, understand them, and take action to address them. Based on our research findings, ICOS has developed a series of recommendations, which we urge policymakers and the higher education sector in Ireland to consider and implement. Our recommendations include the construction of more affordable, purpose-built student accommodation; an increase in inspections of private rental properties to ensure minimum standards; 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.
Ms Harmon added: “Ireland’s reputation as an excellent destination for international education is at risk. If we want to maintain Ireland’s international reputation for high-quality education, it is crucial that the Government ensures that these students have safe, affordable, places to live.’’
Contact: Laura Harmon, ICOS Executive Director: 0861738455/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Note to editors:
- The report is available for download from this link.
- Executive Director of ICOS, Laura Harmon, is available for interviews on request.
- A selection of responses offered by participants in ICOS’ research is listed below:
- Honduran English language student: ‘Ireland is very beautiful but because of the accommodation problem i would not recommend it.’
- Brazilian English language student: ‘I have nowhere to live next week. I’m scared. I think I’ll return to Brazil.’
- Zimbabwean PhD student: ‘There should be transparency from institutions about the accommodation crisis in Ireland and the cost of such accommodation. The mental stress and toll it takes to find a place when you assumed it will be smooth sailing is tremendous. Such transparency goes a long way in informing whether one should move and study in Ireland.’
- Indian postgraduate student: ‘16 people with only one kitchen and 3 bathrooms. Rent is also expensive.’
- Nigerian postgraduate student: ‘I didn't think it would be this difficult to find accommodation, I am starting to regret choosing this school.’
- Spanish PhD student: ‘I barely make ends meet as a PhD student. Just the rent takes 50% of my stipend, with bills it reaches 60%, and this will be even more in winter.’
- Brazilian English language student: ‘Build more houses or apartments for students without being abusive in the rent. The minimum salary and 20 hours restriction is not enough to pay the actual rents and buy food.’
- USA postgraduate student: ‘The management company treat the residents terribly and do no respect privacy.’
- Swiss undergraduate student: ‘Unfriendly family, no heated water, no heating in room, not allowed to cook meat, very thin walls.’
- French Erasmus student: ‘No hot water - mould everywhere - very dirty – humidity.’