Student accommodation set to be growth area in 2018

Accommodation for students is growing at a record pace – 30,000 new spaces in 2017 – and is showing no signs of slowing down in 2018. This is not due to universities expanding their accommodation offer; instead, 97 per cent of the growth is due to investment by private landlords. This means there are now 602,000 purpose-built units for students across the country.

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Rents increased by 2.95 per cent in the last full academic year; however, there are marked variations in the picture across the UK. The biggest student city outside London is Manchester, which saw above-average rent rises of five per cent. This is despite the fact that it has added 61 per cent more beds.

The biggest rent rises for en-suite accommodation were seen in Birmingham and Bristol, although obviously London has the highest overall rents for this type of unit (£195 a week). The cheapest weekly rent for a student en-suite was found in Sheffield, at just £120.

Overseas students still choosing the UK

The student market does not seem to be suffering a downturn due to Brexit, according to a recent report on worldwide student accommodation by Savills. Students are becoming ever-more globally mobile, and the UK is still a popular destination. In Canterbury student accommodation seems to bear this out – better quality accommodation, which is available from specialists such as, is constantly in high demand from both home and overseas students

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Higher student fees do not seem to be discouraging overseas students, probably because the weak pound has offset the higher costs. 23 per cent of the students currently studying in the UK are now from overseas; however, they are providing 26 per cent of the income that universities receive, so they are seen as a valuable group. The private sector is continuing to invest in providing accommodation for the sector due to the continuing strength of demand from foreign students.

Social aspect of accommodation important to students

Many students prefer the more sociable atmosphere of en-suite arrangements and shared communal spaces, which can also represent better value. The growing trend for students to attend university away from home is fuelling demand for student accommodation; at the same time, making social contact is more important for those who are a long way from family and old friends.