Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Ceisteanna (233)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

233. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to allow technical universities to access borrowing for the provision of purpose built student specific accommodation. [29467/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Technological Universities (TUs) are considered to be General Government entities and borrowings by TUs contribute towards General Government expenditure and affect the General Government balance. Section 21 of the Technological Universities Act 2018, provides for the making of rules from time to time  by the HEA, with the approval of the Minister for Education and Skills and the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and the Minister for Finance. The Department is considering funding issues for TUs, including in relation to borrowing arrangements and in the broader context of the provision of purpose built student accommodation (PBSA). The Department is consulting, as appropriate, with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in this regard.

In February 2019 the Department established an independently chaired high level working group, the Technological University Research Network (TURN), comprising representatives from the Department, the Technological Higher Education Association, the Higher Education Authority, TU Dublin and the 3 current TU development consortia. TURN is examining a number of key issues for the future development of TUs including integration challenges, best practice in relation to management structures, organisational work practices and the funding model for TUs, including issues such as borrowing arrangements. It is envisaged that the outcome of the TURN process will be of benefit to TU consortia and established TUs in driving their strategic development and the achievement of organisational, sectoral and national priorities for higher education and regional and national development. The work of TURN is expected to inform the consideration of areas in which investment in TUs may underpin their effectiveness and success, including issues such as borrowing arrangements for TUs. TURN is expected to report to the Minister for Education and Skills later this year.

In broader policy terms, the National Student Accommodation Strategy (NSAS) complements the initiatives being taken by the Minister for Housing to increase housing supply under Rebuilding Ireland.  The strategy outlines 8 key targets and 27 actions which are designed to support the delivery of an increased level of supply of PBSA. The target as set out in the NSAS is the provision of 7,000 bed spaces by end 2019 and a total of 21,000 additional PBSA beds by 2024.

As of the end Q1 2019:

- 6,362 PBSA bed spaces had been completed since the launch of Rebuilding Ireland

- 6,007 further bed spaces were under construction

- 6,005 additional bed spaces had planning permission granted

- 2,880 were at the planning permission application stage.

In total these developments combine to 21,254 PBSA bed spaces, demonstrating strong growth in the sector and enhancing the mix of accommodation available to students during a time of accommodation shortage in the general rental sector.