Foreign student accommodation survey reveals large number of scam victims

Foreign student accommodation survey reveals large number of scam victims

Almost 20% of respondents said they shared a room with two people or more, with one Indian postgraduate student sharing their experience of living with 16 other people who all shared one kitchen and three bathrooms. Picture: Mark Stedman/RollingNews.ie

A Bangladeshi student who came to Ireland to study ended up having to sleep in a car as they could not find accommodation.

The student was one of 465 foreign students who participated in a survey undertaken by the Irish Council for International Students about Ireland’s accommodation crisis.

A tenth of international students surveyed about rental experiences here say it took them more than three months to find accommodation.

In responding to the survey, the undergraduate student from Bangladesh said: “Sleeping in a car isn’t the most comfortable thing to do and it can get quite cold but stressing about rent is worse.” 

A Chilean student was sleeping in an office at the time of the survey.

Two thirds of those surveyed said their mental health had suffered due to the accommodation crisis in Ireland, while 14% said they had been a victim of an accommodation scam. Of those, 63% are female.

Almost 20% of respondents said they shared a room with two people or more, with one Indian postgraduate student sharing their experience of living with 16 other people who all shared one kitchen and three bathrooms.

A Mexican who came to Ireland to learn English said:

I live with 20 people and only three bathrooms and the house has rats.” 

Meanwhile, a Costa Rican student said “sometimes the landlords approach the situations with sexual harassment in exchange for low cost of rent”.

Another student, from Chile, said “The rent is so expensive that’s why we need to shared bed, yes, shared bed between two or three persons”.

Laura Harmon, executive director of the Irish Council for International Students, said: “The Government’s National Student Accommodation Strategy 2017-2024 is not fit for purpose and has not been reviewed since 2019. 

"The pace of progress is too slow when it comes to building purpose-built student accommodation. 

Ireland needs a clear student accommodation strategy and international education strategy that focuses on ensuring that students who study here have a safe, affordable place to live.” 

She added: “Ireland’s reputation as a study destination is being affected by this crisis, undermining the work of colleges who deliver excellence in education. If Ireland is to continue to be an attractive study destination, the Government must act to implement the recommendations in this report.” 

She said the recent revelation that Ukrainian refugees had to sleep in Dublin Airport because there was nowhere else for them to stay was indicative of Ireland’s housing crisis.

Ms Harmon pointed out that when Census 2022 was undertaken, there were more than 160,000 vacant houses and apartments across the country. 

She said vacancy was a key area that needed to be tackled to alleviate the housing crisis, adding: "Such properties need to be looked at to see what can be upgraded. This is not about pitting one section of society against another — everyone deserves a safe place to live.” 

ICOS is calling on the Government to build more affordable housing in urban and rural areas, to tackle housing shortages. It wants capital investment to be ringfenced to enable higher education institutes to build affordable purpose-built student accommodation.

The organisation is also calling for a new national student accommodation strategy to be published, and for a steering group to be established to oversee its implementation.

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From florist to fraudster, leaving a trail of destruction from North Cork, to Waterford, to Clare, to Wexford and through the midlands ... learn how mistress of re-invention, Catherine O'Brien, scammed her way around rural Ireland.

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