Plea for more support for student accommodation

by Gazette Reporter
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Alex Greaney

Labour spokesperson for Further and Higher Education Annie Hoey has called on government to introduce legislation to protect purpose built student accommodation. In light of the cost of living crisis, Senator Hoey said a suite of measures will be needed to ensure students have access to education this year.

These are issues that has been boiling up for some time. The Dublin Gazette published an interview with the UCD students Union last month which highlighted much of what Senator Hoey outlines here.

Senator Hoey said: “My office is inundated with students and parents contacting me about the lack of affordable student accommodation available for the forthcoming term. Students have long been at the coal face of the rental crisis with many paying into the tens of thousands for accommodation while trying to get their qualification.

“There is and always has been huge profiteering at the heart of the student accommodation crisis. There are a range of measures government can bring in to protect purpose built student accommodation, including backing Labour’s Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2021 which would stop developers using loop-holes in the planning legislation to convert student accommodation into apartments for tourists.

“Earlier this year we had kite flying from the Minister for Further and Higher Education on college fees, yet, as students prepare for the return to college in less than a month, we still await specific detail on this. Unfortunately, our students are still paying some of the highest fees in Europe for supposedly free education.

“In April, Labour called for an emergency budget to provide certainty to people in light of the cost of living crisis. It’s now August, and people are left making huge budgetary decisions for their households without any idea what supports or reliefs will be there for them, when the budget is delivered in late September. In a modern society, we should be casting the net far and wide to provide everyone with a chance to receive further and higher education. Unfortunately, between the accommodation crisis and the cost of living crisis, I fear we are about to lose another generation of young people.”

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