Demand for student housing 'at critical point'

Demand for student housing 'at critical point'
The planned student apartment complex on Western Road, which is nearing completion. The development is one many needed to meet demand, according to industry professionals.

DEMAND for student housing is at a critical point and is a concern for third level institutes in Cork, it has been claimed.

It was revealed last week that 34-bed spaces for students were delivered in Cork since the start of 2016.

A further 788 have been earmarked for completion by the end of 2019, including more than 400 at the proposed Event Centre site on South Main Street. Planning permission has been granted for more than 1,600 bed spaces in the past two years.

The figures were revealed in the Government’s progress report on the National Student Accommodation Strategy (NSAS) which targets the provision of 7,000-bed spaces by end of 2019 and a total of 21,000 additional PBSA beds by 2024.

The Evening Echo revealed last week that more than 4,000 students have applied for the 1,277 places in UCC’s five student accommodation complexes for the 2018/19 term.

Meanwhile, the Department of Education and Skills has previously indicated the number of full-time enrolments in Higher Education Institutes could increase by 27% by 2030.

“The demand for student housing is at a critical point,” said professor Hugh McGlynn, head of the school of science and informatics at CIT. “There is a huge demand for accommodation, particularly between ourselves and UCC, across the city.

“Students are being forced to live at home with their parents and commute to college,” he added.

“CIT is projecting significant growth in our own student body in the coming years and we’re already a big entity in the city and it seems that the private sector hasn’t been keeping up with that demand.

“However, we have seen of late that it has started to pick up again, so hopefully that will continue.”

The fact that 34 beds have been delivered for students in Cork the past two years is indicative of the economy and current housing situation, according to professor McHugh.

He added that while the 788 student bed spaces earmarked for Cork by the end of 2019 will take time, they are a step in the right direction.

“We want to give our students the best possible experience,” said professor McGlynn. “Having to worry about accommodation on top of their studies and other things is the last thing we want for students.

CIT cannot currently borrow money for student housing, as they are an Institute of Technology.

However, with the possibility of a merger with IT Tralee on the horizon, CIT could find itself part of the Munster Technological University (MTU), and therefore be eligible to apply for loans.

Professor McGlynn, MTU project director, confirmed if the MTU goes ahead, CIT student housing will be part of the new university’s strategic plan.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for UCC said: “University College Cork continues to work diligently to meet the growing needs of our students.”

The University is in the process of developing a new purpose-built student accommodation complex on the old Crow’s Nest site on Victoria Cross which will provide 255 beds.

“While UCC has increased its allocation of beds in 2018 by acquiring the Mardyke Hall accommodation complex, it will continue to work with private and public stakeholders to identify potential areas for development in order to provide a high standard of safe and secure student accommodation,” they added.

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