The Department of Further and Higher Education has said it will host a meeting of college presidents next week to discuss the student accommodation issue.

The department said it has been engaging with the Department of Housing on a number of issues, including the use of privately-owned student accommodation being used for other purposes.

It said this practice is deeply disappointing and runs contrary to the Student Accommodation Strategy.

The Department of Housing is to issue a circular to local authorities next week telling them not to grant planning permission for purpose-built student accommodation to be used for any other use during the academic year.

It follows exchanges in the Dáil yesterday about preventing student residences being turned into tourist accommodation.

It is understood the circular will tell local authorities it should have a flexible approach to planning conditions to allow these residences provide affordable accommodation to tourists and visitors during the peak summer period. However, the circular will say they should not be used for residential accommodation of a long-term nature or for other purposes during the academic year.

Students have been protesting outside the Dáil in recent days about the lack of accommodation for those attending third-level institutions around the country.

The Union of Students of Ireland said students are being locked out of higher education because of the lack of accommodation.

It said this increases the risk of them deferring their places or dropping out of college.