July 15 2020

UK Student Property: New Record For University Applications

July 15 2020

UK Student Property: New Record For University Applications

Author: Gareth MarshallCategory: UK Property, UK Student Property
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Despite predictions to the contrary, UK universities have seen a record number of applications from new students to enrol on courses.


  • A record 40.5% of all 18-year-olds in the UK have applied to study at university, as application numbers rose during lockdown
  • The figures allay fears of a fall in the number of people enrolling on university courses in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic
  • With a high proportion of international students also intending to keep their offered places to study, the sentiment reinforces the resilience of purpose-built student accommodation as an investment


Will more people prioritise a university education because of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Compressed job markets have, historically, led to a natural uptake in young people and professionals looking to gain new qualifications.

Early figures show record numbers of students in the UK have applied to universities, despite the continued impact of coronavirus.

And many of these students will need a place to live.

As reported by the Daily Business Group, new data published by Ucas, the UK university admissions service, indicates that by the 30th June 2020, 40.5% of all 18-year-olds in the UK had applied for a university place; the highest share on record.

In comparison, that figure was just 38.9% at the same point last year.

This data comes at a time when many UK universities had feared falls in the number of students enrolling in response to the impact and restrictions on day-to-day life from COVID-19.

Another report from global student marketing agency IDP Connect, published by the BBC in June, surveyed close to 7,000 international students and found that 69% still intend to take their place at university for the 20/21 academic year, including those with offers to study in the UK.

While both reports don’t account for those students who may change their minds, the figures do serve as a reminder of the importance of higher education in times of wider global uncertainty.

Purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) in the UK was one of the few asset classes that recorded strong growth in the years that immediately proceeded the 2008/09 global financial crisis. A more competitive job market led to students looking to gain the skills to help give them a competitive edge with employers. And, as university numbers increased, so did the demand for quality student accommodation.

The fundamental strengths of student property investment look set to be highlighted once again due to the impact of coronavirus. In June, Knight Frank announced that they had helped to broker the recent transaction of £90 million worth of PBSA developments to a private investor in the Far East; the largest deal Knight Frank recorded for the first quarter of the financial year.

With PBSA set to remain one of the UK’s most appealing investments for global buyers, here are a few key things to remember when making a student property investment in the UK:

  • Only invest in ‘Russell Group’ university cities
    • The highest-ranking universities are globally renowned for the quality of their education
    • These institutions will naturally always be the most in-demand, particularly from overseas students looking to study in the UK


  • Choose PBSA over older-style student homes
    • PBSA provides the amenities and key city centre locations students today demand
    • Between 2010/11 and 2015/16, there was a 68% increase in demand for PBSA from students in the UK
    • Frequently the accommodation of choice for international students
    • PBSA developments – such as Vita Student – should also conform to the latest hygiene standards introduced since the COVID-19 pandemic, with Vita Student recently appointing a chief welfare officer


  • Check the track record of the developer
    • How can they guarantee that they will be able to deliver the yields that they are marketing?
    • Have they got a proven history of delivery in the student sector?
    • Only invest with a developer that you are confident has the expertise to deliver the strongest investments


For more information about investment opportunities in Vita Student Park Place, the 22nd development from Vita Student, a UK-leading PBSA brand, please click here.

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