South East University of Technology is considering plans for up to 300 student beds in Waterford accommodation crisis continues to deteriorate in the region.

The university (SETU) has in recent weeks formed a taskforce to explore ways to increase the number of purpose-built student accommodation at its main Cork Road campus.

Early talks looked at the potential construction of a similar suite at the university’s Carlow campus, formerly known as Carlow Institute of Technology.

Fine Gael senator John Cummins said he had been briefed by SETU leadership that it was looking at ways to increase purpose-built housing amid what is believed to be the worst housing crisis the third tier region has faced in a generation.

“They are currently developing these plans as a result of my interaction with them [which would see] approximately 300 student beds at the university’s existing Cork Road campus,” Mr Cummins said.

“We need it. We need purpose-built student accommodation for our university to grow and it also has a positive impact on freeing up student accommodation on the estates.’

Waterford Crystal Factory

Other significant longer-term student accommodation options in Waterford include the conversion of the former Waterford Crystal factory nearby.

Further and Higher Education Minister Simon Harris confirmed earlier this month that negotiations were underway between his department and the Department of Public Expenditure to buy the 36-acre site for use by the university.

Meanwhile, a region-wide appeal for people to secure digs this academic year has reached 457 accommodation offers across campuses, including those in Carlow and Wexford, with 330 beds occupied by students so far.

The University of Waterford’s head of accommodation, Jackie O’Connor, said using the Student Pad website was an “interim” measure and that a working group would explore longer-term options, while 426 beds were owned by SETU Waterford for now.

“Student Pad has been a revelation, filling a gap in student housing and helping in a crisis.

“The next step is how we look at permanent options because at the end of the day our students want to be on campus. They want the student life experience that comes with attending third level.”

Accommodation strategy

Dáil Parliamentary Question Matt Shanahan this week highlighted that the main cause of the current crisis lies in the National Student Accommodation Strategy 2016-2024, noting that “no additional student accommodation” has been earmarked for Waterford “for eight years”. plan”.

Minister Simon Harris told the Independent TD that he had received approval to allow the state to help with the cost of building student accommodation in exchange for affordable rents.

Patrick Curtin, President of the Students’ Union, South East University of Technology, Cork Road, Waterford. Photo: Dan Linehan

Patrick Curtin, president of SETU Waterford Students’ Union, said he feared students would “not last the whole term on the road” and drop out.

“The only way to fix this crisis is to build, and the government is very slow to do that.”

Meanwhile, the decision to refuse the student flats was appealed by the developer to An Bord Pleanála last month.

The 94-bed project in Kilbarry received dozens of objections from residents and was rejected by Waterford City and County Council, which ruled it would be an “overly dominant presence” and would lead to a loss of privacy for residents.

The case should be resolved by the end of January.

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