Senator Robbie Gallagher, Fianna Fail Spokesperson for Education in Seanad Eireann says that rising back-to-college costs are forcing a growing number of students to drop out of third-level education and he says that the lack of affordable accommodation could have a devastating impact on third-level students who may have to forgo attending college or university because they can’t find anywhere to live. Senator Gallagher says that although there is a perception that this is really only an issue in Dublin it is also true of other cities and towns including Monaghan where students seeking accommodation while attending Monaghan Institute cannot find a place to stay.
“I have never seen it as bad as it is now. Rental accommodation is extremely scarce everywhere. This affects local students hoping to attend courses in Dublin or elsewhere but it also affects students seeking accommodation here in Monaghan to attend Further Education courses. I would seriously encourage people to take advantage of the current tax breaks for Rent a Room Relief to help ease the crisis. A householder can now earn up to €14,000 a year tax free under the scheme,” he said.
“Some 47,000 Leaving Cert graduates have applied for third-level places this autumn – along with around 250,000 returning students. This will put even more pressure on a rental housing market in crisis. Colleges are saying there’s a demand for 57,000 purpose-built units and there’s a massive number of new students also looking for accommodation,” he said.
“There’s no doubt there’s a student accommodation crisis and there is great concern that students won’t be able to access third-level education this year because of it,” he added.
“According to recent reports, prices for college-run accommodation – for those lucky enough to get it – can vary – from €6,200 for the September-May term at Dublin City University to about €5,000 at NUI Galway. Standard rooms at UCD this September cost about €6,700, while a room at Trinity’s off-campus accommodation in Rathmines costs €5,500. Despite various projects being under way to build student housing, there just aren’t enough units to go around. Even if all the delivery takes place between now and 2019, there still won’t be enough,” he said.
“Third-level students are forced to compete with families and working professionals seeking private rental accommodation, despite seriously low vacancy rates and soaring rents. Even if they secure accommodation, it is often sub-standard as well as being expensive.”
“The best hope for many students is to secure digs through private homeowners letting out a room in exchange for the €14,000 State tax exemption. There needs to be much more promotion of this option so that people open up their doors to the possibility,” he concluded.