The Irish Council for International Students has warned that accommodation shortages are leading to an increase in homelessness, scams and overcrowding among students.
The student support group said that it has seen a 86% rise in the number of queries it has received so far this year about housing problems while, last month, Irish police urged students to be wary following an increase in accommodation fraud.
“The reliance on the private market to deliver accommodation has not worked”
Student associations have previously called on the government to act on housing shortages in Ireland and Laura Harmon, executive director of ICOS, said that the crisis is now “worse than ever”, blaming a lack of supply, high rental costs and “ineffective regulations”.
“The reliance on the private market to deliver accommodation has not worked,” Harmon said, calling for investment in “large-scale capital projects”.
Harmon warned that international students are particularly vulnerable due to limited knowledge of local rental markets.
“The accommodation crisis will impact on Ireland’s reputation abroad as a study destination,” she said.
“Without action, this will have serious ramifications for Ireland’s higher education sector as well as our economy. International students contribute more than €2.2bn annually to Ireland, and play an important role enriching Irish education and society.’’
It comes as a South American student living in Ireland was reportedly asked for intimate pictures by her landlord.
According to police, approximately 50% of reported incidents of accommodation fraud occur in Dublin.
Officers have urged students to be wary of social media adverts and to only use recognised letting agents, while ICOS advises foreign students to avoid electronic fund transfers and never hand over cash.
ICOS also called on the government to publish a progress update on the country’s 2017 student accommodation strategy and to share its new International Education Strategy.
The Irish government is encouraging homeowners to consider renting out their spare rooms to help alleviate the shortage.
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