It is now 2018 and the demand for student accommodation for both Ireland and the UK is higher than ever. The numbers of both domestic and international students are rising thus the demand for housing these students is rising too. Unfortunately, at the minute the demand is outweighing the supply and there are many students who are forced into private renting which can be hefty costs for students across both countries. For example, in Ireland for the academic year starting in September 2017, there has been a lack in purpose built student accommodation (PBSA) of around 23,000 beds.  In the UK, the demand has seen that there were 3.5 students for every available room in 2017. The demand is predominantly high in cities across the UK, such as Liverpool for example. In the last year they seen an increase of 20% in students compared to the previous year with 60% of these requiring accommodation.

A report was carried out by the Union Students in Ireland (USI) which outlined the needs, wants and current housing situations etc of the students of Ireland. They found that 41% of students would rather live in PBSA, although findings have shown that only a third of higher education students have a PBSA bed and 31% living in the private rental sector. Right now, in Ireland there is not enough affordable student housing and the limited availability is unfortunately driving up the costs. The government released a new National Student Accommodation Strategy on the 20th July 2017, with a commitment to ease the growing housing pressures.  It aims to have an additional 21,000 PBSA beds delivered by 2024. The intention is to achieve this through both public and private development initiatives. Ireland has become quite a lucrative country for investors to participate in the construction of the student accommodation market.

Regarding Britain, initially there were concerns that Brexit would have an undesirable effect on the PBSA market. New research has shown that this is quite the contrary with Savills reporting that over £2.1 billion was transacted in the student housing sector after Brexit compared to 1.9 billion earlier in 2017. The same report shows a 17% increase in student accommodation investment in the UK year after year.

Tempohousing has been working within the student sector for over 15 years now and has completed numerous successful student accommodation projects in a variety of different countries. Our latest student project was completed in Switzerland using modules, (click here for more details) and we also completed the largest student accommodation project in the world made up entirely of refurbished shipping containers, (click here for more details). We completed student accommodation in Utrecht comprising of 255 units also using modules, this project was completed from start to finish in only 6 months and is made up of 4 blocks with a café, laundrette, bike storage and courtyard in the centre, (click here for more details).

Recent studies have found there are numerous things students look for in their accommodation and these include amenities such as; double bed, private bathroom and kitchen, on site facilities such as cafes and restaurants etc, ability to customise and of course fast wi-fi. Tempohousing is more than capable of meeting the needs of the modern student, utilising a high standard of construction and design. We can help out with the demand possessing the ability to produce up to 500 units per month.

We interviewed a current business student, Darragh Morgan from Dublin City University, regarding the issues around student housing in Ireland and his current situation. We also met Darragh in Amsterdam and gave him a first-hand look at how we operate in the factory and showed him around some of the local student accommodation we have completed. Read on to see what he had to say on the situation.

  1. What do you look for in student accommodation?

What I look for and the majority of my peers look for is affordable student accommodation with all the basics covered. This would be having your own room your own study desk and bookshelf. This would also include personal shower, bathroom, bed and cooking area. I also look for infrastructure, where the accommodation is located what are the services that surround it and how close is it to my place of study. This is very important for students as most want to live close to their place of study for convenience. I also look for quality of insulation as winters during the academic year can be quite harsh. I also look at the aesthetics of the accommodation the look and feel are very important. Although students are on a budget they do not want sacrifice low prices for old dilapidated and unkept accommodations. As students, we still expect a high quality of housing that is modern and ticks all the basics needed for student accommodation.

  1. What is the student accommodation like in Dublin?

The student accommodation situation in Dublin is heading toward a crisis if being kept swept under the rug. There are more and more students going to college each year and colleges do not have the capacity to provide housing for this large influx of students. The student accommodation in Dublin varies from place to place but the experiences I have had with two student accommodations and the various students complaining about their accommodations clearly indicates that there is a big problem. For instance, one example of a student accommodation where there were 25 students living in one large dorm they shared rooms and there was 4 per room and two single rooms. They had to share one kitchen between them all and there was only communal showers and toilets. As you can imagine the students struggled to keep up their college work in this environment and over 7 of the 25 students had either dropped out of college, failed exams or stopped attending college. This accommodation was a response to a problem but did not address the real function of student accommodation and that is to harbour a safe, quiet and personal environment where students can thrive and excel in their studies.

  1. Do you think there is a need for more student accommodation in Ireland? (Please support your answer)

There is a huge problem in Dublin regarding student accommodation and housing in general. A number of properties are now down 20% from last year(Daft,2017). There were just 1,121 to rent from August 1st and 3,000 nationwide. Basic economics causes the price of rent to increase dramatically due to the lack of supply. Rent prices are now 13% higher than their previous peak. The average property in the Greater Dublin area now costs 1,741 per month to rent. That’s one and a half times the national average.

  1. What made you contact Tempohousing UK & Ireland?

On a trip to Amsterdam in 2017, I noticed the use of containers for student housing. This really intrigued me as they were quirky, modern and fitted well into the student persona. I really feel that these containers are unique and an innovative and creative way of recycling a shipping container. This trip inspired me to pursue this idea and to implement it here in Dublin as our student accommodation problem is spiralling out of control.  I contacted the brilliant team at Tempohousing UK & Ireland and they were very helpful and supported my views. I contacted alumni in Dublin City university also and they supported my views also and felt that the project fitted well with the college ethos. As DCU is a young growing college that has a key emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation. I approached DCU Invent and the CEO Richard Stokes and Maria Johnston were vital in supporting and mentoring me through the process. They offered to fund my meeting with Tempohousing UK & Ireland officials and my trip to Amsterdam and for that, I was very grateful. The Trip was designed to see what the accommodation was like in person and to make vital connections between DCU and Tempohousing. The main motivation for my trip was to help provide affordable good quality accommodation to students from all economic backgrounds in order for them to thrive and progress throughout their time in college. I saw many friends drop out of college due to accommodation and the lack of it and I wanted to take a stand and improve a vital aspect of student life.

  1. What did you think of Tempo Housing’s Keetwonen and Utrecht projects?

My thoughts on the Keetwonen project after seeing it up close and in person were fantastic. The project really exceeded my expectations which were very high already. We got to have a look at the project and went into one of the containers where a student was living and studying. The inside of the containers really took me by surprise it had a really homely feel and did not feel as if you were in a container at all. Each student can design the container as they please which I felt was a nice touch that students would embrace as it would be their own personal space. The thing I loved about the inside was that it ticked all the essential boxes for Student accommodation. There was a personal shower, cooking area, study desk, wardrobe, bathroom, and bed. This project enables students to have their own personal space with all the essentials and gives them a sense of empowerment as they control their own space. I think the project would be a fantastic addition to DCU and really fit in well with the ethos of the college and hopefully act as a benchmark for other student accommodations in the future.

I was also taken to the manufacturing of Modular homes provided by Tempohousing. These homes are larger than the student container homes in the Keetwonen project. These homes have been assembled in various projects by Tempo Housing. One such project that I saw was the Utrecht project. The project was beautiful, and the modular homes fitted in well with the surrounding area. We were shown around one of the homes and what I observed was the spacious corridor and spacious living area when we stepped into the modular home. The modular home had a more modern professional feel. The large window offered a beautiful view and light to fill the room. There was also a kitchen, a large bathroom, shower, bed, and sofa. I was really surprised by these modular homes from the production line to the finished product. I witnessed the many possibilities that are available with these modular homes and how quickly and efficiently they can be completed and ready to be shipped. I also loved the amenities in the courtyard of the project, there was a café and barbeque areas for the residents to go during the summer and good weather. This creates a nice sense of community essential for all student accommodations. Modular homes were not what I had come to see but I was pleasantly surprised as it is a possible solution to the lack of accommodation for working professionals in the city as many large multinational companies have their European headquarters in Dublin.