Two-thirds of international students in Ireland have said the housing crisis has negatively impacted their mental health, a new survey has revealed.
The Irish Council for International Students (ICOS) asked 465 students about their journey to finding accommodation in Ireland, and 10pc said it took them in excess of 100 days to find somewhere to live.
Sixty-six percent agreed or strongly agreed that their mental health suffered due to their difficulty in finding accommodation.
More than one in 10 respondents (14pc) were victims of an accommodation scam while in Ireland, and just 28pc of these reported the incident.
Some 32pc of all respondents said they pay their rent in cash, while just 41pc of English language students said they have a lease agreement.
Overall, 54pc of respondents said they were satisfied with their accommodation.
However, just 41pc of English language students reported being satisfied with their accommodation, while 71pc of Erasmus and 79pc of study abroad students agreed that they were satisfied with their accommodation.
Executive director of ICOS, Laura Harmon, said Ireland’s reputation as an excellent destination for international education is at risk due to the housing crisis.
“Our report shows that the accommodation crisis is hitting international students particularly hard,” she said.
“Of those who participated in our research, 66pc said their mental health has been impacted by the accommodation crisis.
“It is important that we listen to first-hand accounts and experiences, understand them, and take action to address them.”
Ms Harmon said the ICOS has developed a series of recommendations, which it is urging policymakers and the higher education sector in Ireland to consider and implement.
This includes the construction of more affordable, purpose-built student accommodation, an increase in inspections of private rental properties to ensure minimum standards, clear accommodation targets for the student population, and targeted information campaigns to prospective students about how to find accommodation in Ireland.
Ms Harmon added: “If we want to maintain Ireland’s international reputation for high-quality education, it is crucial that the Government ensures that these students have safe, affordable, places to live.’