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New figures reveal year-on-year growth in demand for UK student property ahead of the 20/21 academic year, as sector shows its resilience for investors.
Has the global pandemic created a new wave of students looking to gain higher education qualifications?
In June, data published by Ucas, the UK university admissions service, showed a new record in the number of students applying for a university place for 2020/21.
And now new figures from online student property portal, AccommodationForStudents (AFS), show a 25% rise in searches from prospective student tenants in June 2020, compared with the same month in 2019.
It comes at a time when Ucas’ clearing system, the service which matches UK students with universities after their A-Level results have been published, has helped 17,420 students attain a university place – also a new record high.
Commenting on the surge in recent search activity, Simon Thompson, Director of AFS, explained: “Students are now eagerly making plans to return to university. Although it’s likely that more lectures will be carried out virtually, students still want to maintain that freedom and sense of independence they get from living away from home and would prefer to be living with friends as opposed to their parents and siblings!”
There’s also been growth in UK university application numbers from overseas students, too.
More students at UK universities will naturally increase the demand for accommodation. UK student property – particularly purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) – was renowned for its resilience following the 2008/09 global financial crisis, as tightening job markets saw more young people look to gain a higher education.
PBSA has established itself as the strongest student property sector, prompted by the uplift in demand from students choosing the sector over older-style HMOs (houses of multiple occupancy) and halls of residences. This demand has been driven most by international students.
In its 2019 Student Housing Report, JLL stated that there was a 1.4:1 demand to supply ratio for UK PBSA units between 2014-18. The same report also forecast that this imbalance will increase to 3.5:1 between 2019-2030.
A new surge in student numbers for 2020/21 and beyond will likely further increase the demand for PBSA, once again underlining its strength and ability to deliver long-term growth for property investors.
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