JUST 34 new bed spaces for students were delivered in Cork since the start of 2016, as part of the Government’s National Student Accommodation Strategy, it has been revealed.
However, 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.
Meanwhile, planning permission has been granted for more than 1,600-bed spaces in Cork in the past two years. No timeline has been given for the delivery of many of these beds.
The figures were revealed in the Government’s progress report on the National Student Accommodation Strategy (NSAS).
It found just under 3,000 new bed spaces have been built across Ireland this year, with a further 7,200 under construction.
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 (DES) has previously indicated that the number of full-time enrolments in Higher Education Institutes could increase by 27% by 2030.
A number of new complexes are at various stages of planning and construction across Cork, such as the new Amnis House complex on Western Road which will charge students €210 per week for its cheapest rooms.
UCC Students’ Union refused to endorse and advertise the new complex due to the high cost of rent. Earlier this year, Solidarity TD Barry told the Dáil of instances of Cork students being forced to study by day while sleeping in cars at night.
He also said that landlords are subdividing bedrooms in four-bedroomed houses to accommodate more than a dozen students in cubicles at rents of more than €400 per month.
Speaking to the Echo, Deputy Barry predicted a crisis in student accommodation as freshers face high rents and a lack of availability around UCC and CIT. The NSAS includes eight key targets and 27 actions to support the increased delivery of Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) and an increase in take-up of digs accommodation.
It targets the provision of 7,000 bed spaces by end 2019 and a total of 21,000 additional PBSA beds by 2024.
The report says that government remain on track to meet, if not exceed, this number.
The strategy also encourages the uptake of traditional student accommodation in private homes — Digs accommodation — which it states will help alleviate the shortage of student beds and to provide choice to students in the short-term.