Proper education is key to the future of housing in Ireland

Ireland’s largest housing charity believes education and training is key to the future of the Irish housing sector. In the aftermath of a Celtic Tiger that was largely fuelled by the property market, Respond Housing Association feels education is vital to ensure the mistakes of the past are not repeated in the future. In partnership with University College Dublin, the housing charity is providing a Bachelor of Social Studies in Housing and Community Studies in September 2011 that will focus on the needs of people and communities and not just banks and developers.

According to Respond spokesperson Aoife Walsh housing is at the core of our communities, a need that has been neglected in the past.
“Housing is about far more than just physical buildings. The bricks are important but you must build communities upon them. A well-planned, well-built and well-managed housing development, whether private or public, will contribute significantly to a healthy and functioning community. Our planners, architects, developers and builders need to be more aware of this in order to build integrated and inclusive communities that people want to be part of.”

Respond maintains that housing is about much more than bricks and mortar, a belief that was lost during the Celtic Tiger. The housing charity claims many lost the sense of belonging and community during the past decade, with people focusing on housing as a commodity, rather than a home.

“In the Respond and UCD Bachelor of Social Studies in Housing and Community Studies, we emphasise the importance of sustainability. This refers to both the built environment and the community” added Ms Walsh. “Unfortunately, in the past decade the property market was never concerned with building sustainable, integrated communities. Instead it was about making money. This drive to profit from the property sector has contributed significantly to our current economic difficulties. We need to learn from the mistakes of the past and through the BSS in Housing and Community Studies, we are educating people on how integrated, vibrant communities can be created in place of the ghettos of the past” concluded Ms Walsh.

Delivered in partnership with UCD, the BSS is a four-year, part-time degree programme for mature students. The principal aim of the course is to provide students with an understanding of the issues of housing, social policy, community development and management. For the first time the degree will include a distance learning option. Through the use of video conferencing, students will be able to attend lectures in designated learning centres in Cork and Galway. Anyone interested in the course can contact Respond on 051 840200 or visit our website.