Shortage of Student Accommodation Expected This Autumn

Shortage of Student Rental Accommodation. Learn about the UK's student housing crisis: a surge in students, 25% fewer accommodations, rising rents, and the urgent need for solutions.

The Growing Student Population

Recent Surge in Student Numbers

Recent authoritative research points to a concerning trend—a surge of 91,000 in the count of students, bringing the total to 2.3 million. However, this surge is significantly outpacing the availability of suitable lodging, leading to a shortage of student rental accommodation. There has been a 25% decrease in available properties compared to four years ago.

The latest study by Savills agency highlights the existing 2.3 million full-time students, but there are now 24.5% fewer student accommodations than in 2019. This issue is even more dire in key university cities across regions, with Durham experiencing a staggering 42.4% drop in available rental properties. Concurrently, rents are on a swift ascent; Savills reports that 10 out of the 30 cities they examined have witnessed rent increases in double digits over the past year.

Rent Increases in Key Cities

“As students across the nation digest their A-level results, excitement builds as many prepare for university life. However, a growing number will confront challenges in securing living arrangements due to persistently high university applications, intensifying the strain on an already competitive rental market,” comments Toby Parsloe, a research analyst at Savills.

Parsloe adds, “The UK boasts a record 2.3 million full-time students, marking a rise of 91,000 from the previous year. UCAS applications have remained elevated post-pandemic as economic uncertainties drive more young individuals toward higher education, aiming to stand out in an increasingly cutthroat job market.

“This figure is poised to climb further. A demographic bubble will contribute to more young Britons reaching university age, and the nation’s esteemed higher education institutions will continue to attract international students.”

Regional Housing Constraints

Accommodation Shortage: A Pressing Issue

While London possesses the highest number of purpose-built student accommodations in the country, the ratio of students to available beds remains high at 3.8 students per bed, significantly exceeding the UK average of 2.9.

Meanwhile, London’s private rental sector faces nearly a third fewer available properties than before the pandemic, accompanied by a 12.8% surge in rents over the past year.

Case Studies: Durham, Canterbury, and Bath

Nevertheless, this shortage of student accommodation extends beyond major UK cities; crucial regional universities are also struggling to accommodate their growing student populace. Durham, for instance, emerges as one of the most constrained university cities in terms of housing supply. Listings for three-bed accommodations have plummeted by 41.8%, and four-bed listings have fallen by 32.4%.

Canterbury has observed the highest annual growth in its full-time student count (24.1% between 2020/2021 and 2021/2022), yet its listings have fallen by 33.2% compared to the pre-Covid average. Similarly, Bath has experienced substantial annual growth in student numbers (18.7% between 2020/2021 and 2021/2022), while rental listings have dwindled by 35.2% compared to the pre-pandemic period.

Rental Market Dynamics

Factors Contributing to Rising Rents

In locales where rental competition is particularly fierce, the pressure on rising rents intensifies. Out of the 30 cities analyzed, 10 have witnessed annual rental growth in double digits.

Among these student cities, Glasgow has witnessed the most significant rental growth (33.5%) since the pandemic’s onset, further straining student budgets. This is followed by Salford (29.3%) and Nottingham (28.9%).

“The shortage issue within the UK’s student rental market has been brewing for years, but it’s now becoming more prominent as private landlords react to rising interest rates and reduced tax relief by selling off properties. Additionally, those who entered the buy-to-let market during its rise in the early 2000s and are nearing retirement are looking to sell,” concludes Parsloe.

Addressing the Student Housing Crisis

Urgent Need for Purpose-Built Student Accommodations

“With the university-aged population projected to grow in the coming decade, even as more students opt to study in their home cities, it’s imperative to develop more purpose-built student accommodations to alleviate the housing competition that students currently face.

“The UK’s higher education sector is robust and holds global recognition. Ensuring that students can easily find accommodations near their chosen universities for a complete university experience is crucial to upholding the sector’s positive reputation.”


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