Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said that the Government would keep a "close eye on third level colleges to make sure they don't charge exorbitant rents".

Mr Martin was responding to People Before Profit Solidarity TD Richard Boyd Barrett who told the Dáil that students were being priced out of student accommodation.

He said that University College Dublin is charging €15,000 a year for accommodation.

Mr Boyd Barrett added that student organisations were being "overwhelmed" around Ireland and many are being forced to rent hotel rooms.

He said: "The city is littered with new hotels which are being rented to students who can't get accommodation."

There were 18,000 hotel rooms planned for the country and 24 new hotels are planned for Dublin between now and 2023, he claimed.

Meanwhile, a third level students' group has urged the Government to take immediate action to address accommodation shortages, after warning that "thousands" of students are seeking help to find somewhere to live every week.

The Union of Students Ireland made the call as it revealed the situation is now affecting all parts of the country, with students "deferring, not attending college, staying in hostels, B&Bs and hotels" because of the "absolute disaster".

Speaking on RTE's Morning Ireland, USI president Clare Austick said immediate help is needed.

She said: "The housing crisis has been an issue for the last decade, but what we're seeing now are thousands of students across the island who cannot avail of student accommodation.

"In Waterford last week there was over 400 people looking for accommodation last week. In Sligo it was over 300 last week. Galway there was over 2,000. Dublin thousands again."

Two students affected by what is happening also told Morning Ireland about the reality they are facing.

Naomi Halpin, a 22-year-old from Co Cavan, who is studying human resources management at Dublin's National College of Ireland, said: "I've been struggling to find accommodation.

"I've applied to over 100 different places at this stage, and viewings, I think I've gotten no more than a handful, maybe ten."

Taylor O'Leary White, a 19-year-old from Co Wexford, who is studying social care at Waterford Institute of Technology, said: "In my house there's seven people, including myself, and I'm paying €600 for a sitting room, so my bedroom is the sitting room.

"It's definitely becoming a lot worse, everything's just snapped up so quick."