The president of Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT ) Students’ Union said this week there will be sufficient accommodation for all students attending the college in September.
Kevin Ronan made the comments after the Students’ Union wrote to local residents in the past week, encouraging them to register with the Union if they have houses or rooms to rent to students.
Around 900 first year students will commence their third-level education at AIT in September and there will be a scramble for accommodation in the run-up to this, after the CAO offers are made in late August.
“At the moment there is no shortage, but we are anticipating a big demand when the CAO offers come out. At this stage we want to pre-empt any problems.”
He said that some homeowners who rented to students in the past are not now renting their properties and this is contributing to a shortfall.
“People are pulling out of the rental market. We aren’t 100 per cent sure why.”
He added: “Young professionals who would have gone into the housing market and bought are renting. That’s taking up a lot of the accommodation students would have gone for,” he said.
There are approximately 6,000 full-time students in AIT. “Each year we are looking at increasing numbers of mature students. They wouldn’t be staying around the college. They tend to look for accommodation outside of the student areas in places like Glasson and Moate and we are able to cater for them,” said Mr Ronan.
He said the response to last week’s letter circulated to residents in the area has been positive so far.
“We had a very positive response. We have already seen more than 15 new landlords registering with us. That is a very positive response.”
“Anywhere within a five-minute walk is what students want. Come September we are always able to facilitate everyone,” he said.
Mr Ronan said that while on-campus accommodation would have been desirable a decade ago, he doesn’t believe it is needed at the moment. “I don’t see many ITs (Institutes of Technology ) going into on-campus accommodation. I don’t see the need for it. We have covered all bases,” he added.
Fianna Fáil TD for Longford-Westmeath, Robert Troy, said that “further measures need to be put in place to incentivise the development of student accommodation, both on and off campus”.
He made the comments after the Higher Education Authority (HEA ) commissioned a study which revealed that there is a significant shortage of suitable accommodation for students nationwide. This tends to be a problem in the cities every year.