Purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) specialist – Future Generation – has reported that the pace of PBSA bookings has trebled since Prime Minister Boris Johnson laid out his roadmap to easing lockdown restrictions.
The timetable the PM outlined on 22 February for the reopening of schools, non-essential retail, hospitality and potential travel this summer injected a dose of confidence that is steadily bringing the student accommodation sector back on track.
Future Generation is now 20% ahead of where it was this time last year due to the surge it has witnessed this month. The company is on track to exceed last year’s performance which saw occupancy levels reach over 90% despite the pandemic. Future Generation is currently in the process of letting its portfolio of over 2,000 student beds for the 2021/22 academic year.
While it’s true that school leavers often book late once they’ve received their university offers over the summer, Future Generation, like many providers, enjoys renewals and new bookings throughout the year from existing undergraduates, mature students, postgraduates and international students. The rate of booking then peaks in July and August, when approximately 30% of total capacity is let.
Future Generation’s managed portfolio currently includes five developments – Steel City in Sheffield, Hythe Mills in Colchester, Guilden Village in Guildford, Luxurio in Loughborough and The Vantage in Nottingham.
“To now be 20% ahead of where we were last year is a fantastic reward for all the team’s hard work. The pandemic hasn’t been easy as we were still constructing three of these projects but there are clear signs that the PBSA sector is seeing some green shoots.
“Student bookings are cyclical and the early months of the year are typically quieter. This year, universities and students around the world had little clue what the future had in store and it was the quietest we’ve ever seen it.
“Students don’t have lots of money to throw around and were desperate for some certainty. This goes for international students too, who make a huge commitment by travelling to the other side of the world to study at the UK’s world class universities.
“When the Prime Minister stood up in late February, he at least delivered some hope that life would return to some semblance of normality come September, and that’s now being reflected in the pace of bookings which trebled as soon as he had delivered his roadmap. That’s something we’re very thankful for and we’re now extremely confident that our projects will be in fantastic shape with ample demand come the end of the summer. ”Andrew Southern, Chairman, Future Generation