Multi-million fund to address ‘serious’ student accommodation shortage

Multi-Million Fund To Address ‘Serious’ Student Accommodation Shortage
Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris speaks to the media after signing an agreement to provide a financing initiative for higher education institutions to build student accommodation. Photo: PA
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By Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA

A multi-million euro fund has been announced in an effort to address the country’s “serious” shortage of student accommodation.

Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris said any projects financed through the €434 million scheme will offer rents below the market rate.


He also said the State had been “too hands off” when it comes to student accommodation.

The initiative, provided through the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Housing Finance Agency (HFA), offers universities lower-cost loans over longer periods of time.



The arrangement involves a 40-year €200 million loan from the EIB, with the state HFA providing the rest.

Mr Harris told reporters the initiative could lead to “very, very significant potential savings” for universities.

Asked whether the cost of rent for students would be lowered, Mr Harris said supply and affordability are linked but separate issues.


He said: “But be absolutely clear, if the state is involved in any initiative around student accommodation, as we will be in relation to this, part of that conversation will be for whatever investment we put in, making sure that part of the investment results in below market rates for rent.”

He said Irish universities support this, adding: “Crucially, we know the best way to drive down price is supply.”

Speaking at the launch of the initiative in Dublin, Mr Harris said the state has been “too hands off” with student accommodation and there has been a viability gap for universities to build due to construction costs.

He said the initiative aimed to get paused student accommodation initiatives “unstuck” by providing lower cost loans over longer periods of time.


“I don’t think we can overstate the significance of this,” Mr Harris said.



“We’re deadly serious about breaking the annual cycle when it comes to student accommodation, the annual rush and scramble.

“We need to look beyond September to September and see how we can really get ahead of this.

“This means that this funding pot could provide well over 2,700 college-owned student accommodation beds. We’re open for business, we’re open for applications.”

Werner Hoyer, president of the European Investment Bank, said the accommodation shortage was a barrier to third-level accommodation for some students.

“For some people, it’s a question, ‘Can I go studying or not? Can I have access to university or not?’

“So from that point of view, it’s very, very serious and we take it seriously. It is not an Irish problem, to be quite blunt, as well. Wherever I go in the European Union, there are similar issues.

“Because the housing market is the way it is, the increase in the population, partly due to refugees, but also for other reasons, demographic reasons in some countries like here, it’s going to contribute to the shortage of housing.

“So this is something that we share in the European Union. This is why an EU institution like ours is ready to intervene, because it’s a serious thing when people decide not to go to university because they cannot afford the accommodation.”

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