Vulture funds now own almost twice as much student housing as University College Dublin (UCD), with 7,538 beds in contrast to UCD’s 4,000+ beds. They now own more student accommodation than UCD, Dublin City University & Trinity College Dublin combined.

Mairéad Farrell, Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on further & higher education highlighted the lack of affordability of these forms of accommodation for ordinary students and their families.

Farrell’s research found that the average cheapest single room occupancy would set students back €1,072 a month in rent. Many of the vulture funds providing these accommodation types require students to rent the room for an entire calendar year, as opposed to their academic year, which sees the accommodation unneeded during the summer months. This is in contrast to university-provided accommodation, which allows students to rent a space exclusively for their academic calendar.

UCD construction of accommodation phase 1
UCD construction of accommodation phase 1

A recent report by Ernst and Young (EY) has detailed how international students currently occupy 80% of these rooms, leaving domestic students with 20% of the share.

Farrell identified purpose-built student accommodation as a factor that has “exploded” in recent years. She calculated that vulture funds own a total of almost 12,000 beds in this type of accommodation, behind the 14,517 beds owned by the combined share of every university in the country.

A noticeable outlier is the University of Galway which maintains double the number of beds compared to vulture funds located in the area. In Cork, investment funds own over double the number of beds in comparison to University College Cork’s portfolio, highlighting the discrepancies between different localities.

Last year, Simon Harris, Minister for Further and Higher Education acknowledged that planning permission had been granted for 11,008 beds in the coming months. In the following years, vulture funds will surpass universities as the primary distributors of student housing, both at UCD and across the country.

Farrell stated, “Some might say, what’s the harm in this? If they are increasing the supply of beds available then surely that’s a good thing.” She proceeded by mentioning how the government “tell us the key to solving the housing crisis is ‘supply, supply, supply’. Unfortunately in the real world the type of supply matters”. “Affordability matters. The real-life experiences of students matter.”

James Farrell – Reporter