Written answers

Thursday, 4 July 2024

Department of Education and Skills

Student Accommodation

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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513. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills when an allocation of funds will be given to the HEA for the provision of 2,700 low-cost student housing beds, which was promised last winter, given the urgent need for such beds and the fact that many universities have plans for such accommodation that could proceed rapidly if funding was approved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28912/24]

Photo of Patrick O'DonovanPatrick O'Donovan (Limerick County, Fine Gael)
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In April, the Taoiseach and I announced the capital investment of €100m from the National Development Plan windfall allocation for delivery of student accommodation projects. This enables the progression of 1,014 beds across UCD, DCU, and Maynooth University under my Department’s short term activation plan. Funding under this measure is provided to higher education institutions to activate projects with planning permission that had stalled due to cost viability challenges. 30% of the new beds will be ringfenced for our target group of students.

The new Student Accommodation Strategy is in development following approval of the Long Term Policy earlier this year. This policy approach includes measures for increasing supply of student accommodation, reducing cost of delivery through development of standardised design guidance, and promoting efficient use of existing stock and vacancy while supporting balanced regional development. It will continue to have a focus on the provision of digs accommodation.

My officials and the Higher Education Authority are working intensively on options proposals from the Technological University sector. An initial assessment report is expected from the HEA imminently, outlining the next phase of the proposal development.

In October last year the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Housing Finance Agency (HFA) agreed a new €434 million student accommodation financing initiative to support higher education institutions in the development of affordable student housing. The EIB announcement stated that the new scheme has the potential to support the delivery of an estimated 2,700 new student beds across Ireland.

This EIB initiative provides a framework loan facility to the Irish Housing Finance Agency to provide finance directly to Irish public higher education providers to develop student accommodation. While I welcome the financing agreement between the EIB and HFA which will assist higher education institutions to finance future student accommodation projects, financing is a matter for each individual University as an autonomous body and is not administered or facilitated by my Department.

I can advice that for the current academic year there are an additional 1,021 beds available in publicly funded Higher Education Institutions with 674 of these in University of Galway. In addition, as of the 31st of May, HEIs have indicated that that there are approximately 134 rooms available in Galway for digs accommodation.

The most recent Building Information data (May 2024) supplied by the Higher Education Authority indicates that since 2017, 1,739 new purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) beds have been built in Galway. Work is underway on site on an additional 403 bed spaces and planning permission has been obtained for a further 1,669 beds.


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