Cork now facing a "serious shortage" of beds for college students

Cork now facing a "serious shortage" of beds for college students
The student accommodation currently under construction on the Beamish & Crawford site on the South Main Street, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

THE President of Cork Institute of Technology has warned of a “serious shortage” of student accommodation and the need for better public transport as it bids to grow its student population by 3,000 over the next decade.

CIT expects to add at least an extra 3,000 students to its books in the next 10 years — it currently has 12,000 full-time and part-time students — while University College Cork (UCC) is also set to expand significantly.

Speaking to the Evening Echo, CIT president Dr Barry O’Connor said there is “no doubt that there is a serious shortage of student accommodation in Cork”.

He said this shortage is a manifestation of the general housing crisis.

“Recent additions to the stock of student accommodation are a welcome development but adding to these current and planned building projects will still not solve the current shortage,” explained Dr O’Connor.

“CIT, within the next ten years, will add at least an extra three thousand students to its books. Add to this the growth in UCC student numbers and the fact that Cork City is home to three of the largest Further Education Colleges in the country and it becomes clear that other solutions must be explored,” he added.

Dr O’Connor added: “Seriously improved public transport would greatly expand the catchment area wherein students could find accommodation.

“Cork City Councillors have long been critical of over-concentration of student residences in the immediate vicinity of UCC and CIT in particular.

“Project Ireland 2040 may help deliver on a wider and faster public transport system for Cork, opening up many more options for student and staff, accommodation.”

CIT is currently undergoing a merger with IT Tralee in the hopes of opening the Munster Technological University in September this year.

This could pave the way for more student accommodation in Cork, explained Dr Barry, who added that CIT is already making strides in that direction. “CIT, along with a number of other Institutes, are in discussion with the Higher Education Authority (HEA) with regards to facilitating the provision of student accommodation,” he said.

“There may be a number of approaches to this in terms of finance or partnership arrangements with interested third parties.

“The HEA is looking into the possible establishment of a means by which Institutes of Technology (IOT) can borrow in order to finance the provision of student accommodation,” he added

IOTs under current legislation do not have the legal capacity to borrow but the Technological University Act 2018 addressed this issue.

“It is essential that this borrowing framework is established without delay,” said Dr O’Connor.

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