Student Accommodation: are 5000 beds enough?

By Gemma Creagh - Last update

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Finding affordable student accommodation for students is hard – if not impossible. Of course, landlords have always been slow renting to anyone studying at 3rd level. However, the ever-rising cost of living, teamed with the whopping rent increases over the past few years, has certainly not helped things. Unless you’re willing to share a single room with four people, or plan on living in your car, your options as a student are limited. More and more undergraduates find themselves commuting across the country, sometimes hours each way. This puts learners under immense pressure and also means people from rural areas are at a massive fiscal disadvantage.

So what’s the plan for the future?

Well, the Government has assured us that changes are afoot. In 2017, they released a report, Rebuilding Ireland: Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness. In this, the National Student Accommodation Strategy (NSAS) was noted as a key focus point. This plan was developed by the Department of Education and Skills, the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, as well as other invested organisations.  Grants and subsidies for higher education institutions and private sector bodies; more support for students on the ground; and a focus on promoting ‘digs’ as an alternative were all put forward as possible solutions.

Government Update

This week, ministers Mary Mitchell O’Connor and Damien English released the 2018 end of quarter two progress report. As it stands currently:

  • 2,990 PBSA bed spaces completed
  • 7,257 bed spaces are under construction
  • 7,154 additional bed spaces have planning permission granted
  • 1,209 are at the planning permission stage

When finished, this means 18,610 beds in total, with 5,423 of these (hopefully) completed by the end of the year. Now, what remains to be seen is how fiscally accessible will they be for the students who need them.

Alternative Options

The National Student Accommodation Strategy calls on traditional student accommodation in homes – old-school digs – to help alleviate the shortage of beds. The Government has provided funding to USI to finance #homesforstudy. Announced in June, this campaign highlights the fact that homeowners can earn up to €14,000 tax-free under the rent-a-room scheme. If you know of any homeowners looking to make a few quid yourself, the link is online at

Sleepless Future?

If the current economic growth continues, the numbers of full-time students will increase substantially in the next decade. The Department of Education and Skills has even tipped the number of full-time enrolments in publically-funded higher education institutes to increase by 27% by 2030. Which is a lot. Rental cost shows no sign of dipping and rising house prices illustrate that demand still outstrips supply. Students hoping to attend college for the next few years will have to make sure they have a full kindle and a well-topped up leapcard. As only those lucky enough to have generous parents with cavernous pockets will be able to live within five miles of their course provider.

Do you want to find education options that suit you? Talk to course providers now at our free Education Expo event, or search for a list of training courses available.

Gemma Creagh

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