ICOS regularly receives enquiries from people wishing to offer accommodation to international students in their homes (also known as homestay) but who are uncertain how to go about arranging it. This page is intended to answer some basic queries and point you in the right direction...
Please note that ICOS is not involved in arranging private student accommodation.
Are there many students interested in staying in a family home during their time in Ireland?
This is an arrangement that often suits language students particularly well. It offers both an added chance to put language skills into practice with members of the host family and an arrangement better suited to the shorter duration of many language courses of a few weeks or months.
Less commonly, the arrangement may also appeal to international students attending further and higher education.
What do international students expect from homestay?
Although students will have varying needs and expectations, these would almost always include certain basic facilities - having a private, clean room with a desk or study table, chair, reading light, wardrobe and a comfortable bed.
Being provided with meals may be part of the arrangement if it suits both parties and may provide a welcome social dimension. Equally, being able to use the kitchen and have a share of fridge and cupboard space may work better, especially where a student is keen to prepare familiar food from their home country.
Much can be negotiated but, most importantly of all, a student will want to feel welcomed by the host family. Though homestay can provide a useful income, it works best when a family feels comfortable taking a student, who may be from a very different cultural background, into their home and life for a short period, providing a little support as needed and embracing the experience positively.
Is there a central agency that matches offers and requests for homestay in Ireland?
Ireland does not have an organisation that does this specifically. However, individual language schools may be interested in hearing of offers of accommodation close to where they are based. Directories of recognised language schools across Ireland are provided by the websites of ACELS and MEI.
The websites of the bigger colleges will generally include quite extensive accommodation information for prospective students and may also explain how landlords can best list accommodation that could suit their students.
Equally, there are also dedicated websites that help students find homestay families through online directories and matching tools. These include:
Such sites may operate a registration fee or take a commission from one of the parties when a booking is made. ICOS is not in a position to recommend any particular website and would therefore advise the usual checks before sharing personal information or making payments.
In whatever way you plan to get the word out, think carefully about the practicalities of where your accommodation is located in relation to different colleges and focus on those which are a short walk away or accessible by good public transport links. Students will seldom want to consider a location which is not convenient for where they study.
Last updated: January 2016