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Third Level Education

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 20 October 2021

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Questions (180)

James Lawless


180. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science the number of third-level students that are experiencing housing poverty; and if he has plans to survey third-level students to ascertain the pervasiveness of housing poverty among the student population. [51432/21]

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Written answers (Question to Further and Higher Education)

The information requested by the Deputy is not held by my Department.

I understand that this is a very difficult time for students seeking to secure accommodation. The Government recognises this as a critical issue. 

Approximately 40% of students who rent accommodation do so in purpose built student accommodation, with 60% in the wider private rental market. Accommodation shortages in the private rental market, which have been made worse by the effects of Covid, have impacted significantly on students this year.   

As a country, we need to dramatically increase the supply of all types of housing and accommodation, including student accommodation.   

My Department and I have been engaging with representatives from the higher education sector, including student representatives, on this issue. Together with these stakeholders and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, we are working to develop a stronger pipeline of affordable student accommodation.  

Last week I announced an enhanced Student Assistance Fund of €17 million for the coming academic year.  This Fund is a critical resource for students who are experiencing financial difficulties, whether they are ongoing or temporary in nature.  It is available to students to support them in meeting a wide range of costs including rent, food, childcare and essential travel.

I expect to receive the final report of the independent Student Grant Review in the next few months.  This will inform policy priorities and future considerations regarding the development of student supports. I have secured significant resources in Budget 2022 to commence the process of making improvements in the Student Grant Scheme.

In addition to securing resources to cater for additional demand in SUSI, it is a priority for me that we begin to make changes to the Student Grant Scheme to help deal with the increased costs of attending college. 

I also intend to continue to make progress in the implementation of the National Access Plan, which supports target groups who are otherwise under-represented in higher education, including though provision of bursaries.