Demand for purpose-built student accommodation continues to grow 

Demand for purpose-built student accommodation continues to grow 

With an increase in students applying to UK universities, demand from international students is especially strong.

Knight Frank recently released the UK Student Housing Update, which analyses the number of students applying to universities in the UK compared to previous years.

According to data from UCAS, over 560,000 students applied to begin a full-time undergraduate course for the 2019/20 academic year at universities in the UK. This was almost 2,500 more applications than at the same point in 2018. Additionally, this is the first year-on-year rise in application in three years.

Applications from international students

This rise in applications was driven by a record number from international students. With a 5.7% increase on 2018 numbers, nearly a fifth of all applications were from outside of the UK. There was even a 33.3% year-on-year rise in prospective students from China, which has increased to 15,880 applicants.

Additionally, there has been an increase in applicants from India, the USA, and United Arab Emirates. Despite political uncertainty surrounding Brexit, applications from students within the European Union increased by 1%. This data highlights the ongoing global appeal of UK universities.

Purpose-built student accommodation

In the long term, student numbers are forecasted to continue to grow. Having analyzed ONS population projections and student entry rates from UCAS, Knight Frank expects there to be a 15% rise in full-time undergraduate students from now until 2030. This would be an increase of 220,000 students.

With this further increase in student applications, demand for accommodation, especially purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA), is expected to grow. Between May and August 2018, 30% of full-time first-year undergraduate students lived in privately-owned PBSA, which was a 22% increase compared with five years ago.

The private sector is becoming more and more influential in the student accommodation market. This year 36,000 new beds are expected to enter the market, and there is demand for even more.

Student populations in regional cities

Regional cities, like Manchester and Birmingham, have been boosted by growing student populations. With four universities in Manchester and 14 higher education institutions and other universities in the surrounding areas, Manchester boasts more demand for new PBSA than supply provides.

Home to more than 60,000 students, Birmingham’s rental market continues to grow. Under 25s even make up approximately 40% of the city’s population, making it one of the youngest cities in Europe.

Demand for buy-to-let properties and PBSA are expected to continue to rise across the UK but especially in regional cities with large student populations.

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