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Building to start on thousands of student housing units

Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris has said more student accommodation being built this year will be based on campus and some will be ready by next year.

Minister Harris said 521 student houses will be built in Maynooth and DCU with work starting this year.

Speaking on RTÉ’s News at One, he said work will start in Maynooth in spring and be ready by next year, while the project in DCU will start this summer and should be ready by 2026.

He said he has also got government approval this year to further pursue projects in UCD, DCU and Trinity, with “2,500 additional units across the city of Dublin”.

Furthermore, he said the technological universities based in the regions are being asked to bring forward their plans to government by March.

He outlined the importance of having “standardised design” for student accommodation.

“We want student accommodation that is fit for purpose and we are going to have standardised design that will reduce costs and also speed up delivery,” the Minister said.

There are currently 48,000 purpose built student beds, with one third owned by the colleges and two thirds owned by the private rental market, Mr Harris said.

“That was the approach that was being taken until I sought approval to change it,” he added.

The Minister said he wants to see less reliance on the market and more universities building accommodation.

He said there was no specific target for student accommodation under the government’s Housing for All plan.

Minister Harris said he does not believe a student complex in Cork is being turned into a reception centre for asylum seekers, as has been reported.

He said the Department of Integration has a job to do in identifying lots of different options in responding to humanitarian accommodation but that he has a job too to ensure students have accommodation.

He said if there was a plan for student accommodation to be used to house asylum seekers, he said he would need to see when and where alternative accommodation would be provided and it would also require a cabinet decision.

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