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April 21 2021

Students Returning Back to UK Universities

April 21 2021

Students Returning Back to UK Universities

Author: Matheen BukhariCategory: UK Property
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With university applications and searches for student accommodation notably rising, a million students plan to head back to university within the next month.


  • In February, the UK Government announced that in-person learning can resume for students on practical or practice-based courses and who require specialist equipment and facilities. This lockdown exit plan has reinvigorated the market and prompted a rise in students applying for university places and searching for term-time accommodation.
  • Following the announcement, student accommodation platform, UniHomes experienced a 68% increase in students searching for rental accommodation, with enquiries on student rentals also climbing 234% compared to a year ago.
  • Vita Student bookings also increased drastically in March compared to February, with three times more bookings being taken for September 2021.


The COVID-19 pandemic understandably affected the UK higher education sector, with some students unable to travel between their family homes and their university, international students being prevented from entering the UK and face-to-face classes being moved online.

However, the situation appears to be turning around, with the lockdown restrictions now being eased and students both domestic and international are keen to get back to university life.

The UK government’s announcement about eased restrictions on face-to-face learning caused UniHomes to see a 68% increase in students searching for rental accommodation.

UniHomes also conducted a separate survey of letting agents and found that many are very hopeful about students’ increasing level of interest in rental accommodation. When asked what would drive demand, factors such as ‘the return of domestic students (41%), the easing of travel restrictions for international students (22%) and the influx of new students for the new academic year (20%)’ were identified as being particularly important.

Phil Greaves, Co-Founder of UniHomes, commented: “It may seem like a while away, but the new academic year is fast approaching, and this means an uplift in the number of students searching the rental market for a term-time home. Demand for student accommodation remains very high despite the ongoing uncertainty caused by Covid.”

University applications on the rise

The January 2021 UCAS deadline for applications was also very encouraging, with the greatest increase of applicants UCAS has experienced since 2010. 48,030 students submitted an application to study at a UK HEI which equates to an 8% year-on-year increase.

Domestic applications from the UK are 11.6% higher than last year, with UCAS predicting that this trend is set to continue, with an expected 90,000 additional UK applications by 2025.

International applications from outside the UK were also higher, with applications from outside the EU increasing by 17.1%. Demand can predominantly be seen from students in China (+21.5%) and India (+25.5%).

Analysing UCAS’s latest data on student numbers, global property consultancy Knight Frank said that it “makes for positive reading, despite the pandemic”.

Vita Student following the trend

There are 21 Vita Student accommodation developments currently operational in the UK. The team experienced a dramatic increase in enquiries in March, with three times more bookings being taken than in February and lead numbers at record levels across all their website and social media platforms.

While COVID-19 has created challenges for the Vita Student proposition, the purpose-built student accommodation brand has remained committed to the health and wellbeing of all of its residents.

Being home to more than 6000 students across the UK means that making the developments safe places to live during these unprecedented times has been absolutely crucial.

Max Bielby, Managing Director of Vita Student commented that: “Vita Student has proven that we can look after our students in even the most challenging of circumstances.

“We have been inundated with gifts, letters and cards from students thanking our team for looking after them at such a crucial time.”

The high levels of occupancy and strong re-booking levels seen across Vita Student’s suite of developments demonstrates that investing in purpose-built UK student property is an incredibly strong long-term investment. The rising numbers of student applications for university places in the UK is further testament to that.

To date, Select Property Group has sold over £300 million worth of Vita Student property to its global investors.

Click here to find out more about the latest investment opportunities in Vita Student.

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Affinity Living
Lancaster Wharf
Prices from GBP 237,000

Over GBP 65 million worth of property sold since February 2022 launch

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