On Saturday, November 4, 2023, Juliette Davret, postdoctoral researcher on Data Stories, and two of the project artists, Joan Somers Donnelly and Augustine O’Donoghue, took part in a workshop organized by the Dublin Democratic Planning Alliance (DDPA) in cooperation with Student Unions to work on the issue of student housing.
The importance of providing student accommodation in Ireland lies in meeting the growing needs associated with the increasing demand for higher education. This demand, both nationally and internationally, is putting significant pressure on the student housing market. Ensuring fair access to education and promoting student well-being are central issues, while adequate housing conditions contribute to the attraction and retention of talent. However, Ireland faces major issues such as housing shortages, high rents and precarious living conditions, requiring coordinated intervention between government, educational institutions and the private sector to develop sustainable and affordable solutions. Resolving these challenges is crucial to the continued success of the education system, the well-being of students and the country’s economic development.
The three-hour workshop brought together built environment and housing practitioners from Ireland and Europe, students and student unions representing third-level institutions in Dublin and was divided into different parts. The first part focused on gathering perspectives on housing issues from attendees. Several students gave short presentations highlighting the issues they see as key in today’s political landscape. Then, divided into working groups by table, attendees brainstormed a word to express a common feeling about the student housing situation. The working group including Data Stories team members chose the following words: grim, bad, expensive, mouldy, oversubscribed, stress, insecure, transient. Clearly, attendees did not hold positive feelings about the housing situation. Eventually they settled on ‘expensive insecurity’.
Later in the day, various experts gave presentations, each focusing on a specific theme related to the wider context of housing, data systems, investment and social protection in Ireland and Europe. Many individuals spoke, including Dara Turnbull (Housing Europe), Carole Pollard (RIAI) and László Molnárfi (TCDSU). Following the presentations, participants worked in small groups to explore one particular theme in greater depth. The working group including Data Stories team members worked specifically on the question of “Digital and Data-Driven Decision Making: Understanding the imperative for incorporating digital data-driven systems within Irish policy-making processes.”. Discussing this issue in a multi-stakeholder workshop was a way of enriching the Data Stories project team’s experience in order to understand the data generated and used to address the housing issue for students.
According to the DDPA, they will produce a report condensing the participants’ comments. The Data Stories team looks forward to reading this report.
The DDPA recommended the following material as preparation for the workshop:
- OECD: Strengthening Policy Development in the Public Sector in Ireland
- Purpose built student accommodation – gov.ie
- HEA – Report on Student Accommodation
- Report on University Student Accommodation in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England and Europe – NUIG