Tuesday, 14 February 2017
Department of Education and Skills
204. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the number of meetings he has had with relevant parties in developing the national student accommodation strategy, which was assigned to his Department under the rebuilding Ireland housing plan, action 4.7, to be delivered in quarter 2 2017; the name of each person he has met in developing the strategy; the organisation each represented; and the date the meeting took place. [7129/17]
Alleviating the housing crisis is a cross-Government priority and the available analysis indicates that the lack of suitable rental accommodation for students is driving up rents in the private rental sector, particularly in areas where demand for rental property is high. This is contributing to what we know is already a considerable strain on some students and their families to participate in higher education with knock-on effects on completion rates. The reality is that dealing comprehensively with this issue will only take place as part of a more general programme to address the major housing and homelessness issue.
Accordingly, my colleague Mr. Simon Coveney T.D., Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, on 19 July 2016 published “Rebuilding Ireland – an Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness”, following Government approval of this comprehensive and ambitious Plan. The full plan can be accessed at:
My Department worked closely with the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government in developing this Plan, with a specific focus on student accommodation, and I very much welcome the commitments contained in the plan and I look forward to working with colleagues on a cross-Departmental basis to ensure that the commitments contained in the Plan are implemented as soon as practicable.
As outlined in the Action Plan for Education 2017 and in the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan, my officials have been working closely with officials from the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government and with other relevant stakeholders with a view to implementing all of the relevant actions in relation to student accommodation that were detailed in Rebuilding Ireland. Under the Action Plan for Education 2017, we will publish a national student accommodation strategy which will set out a broad framework for delivery of an enhanced level of student accommodation.
In addition to this an inter-departmental steering group on student accommodation has been established which is chaired by the Deputy Secretary General of my Department. This steering group is comprised of officials from my Department in addition to representatives from the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the Department of Finance, the Higher Education Authority, the Irish Universities Association, the Technological Higher Education Association, the Union of Students in Ireland, the University of Limerick, Trinity College Dublin and the National Treasury Management Agency. This steering group has met on four occasions with the fifth meeting scheduled for March 2017.