New data reveals shortfall in student beds by 2025

New data from StuRents reveals a c450,000 student beds shortfall is expected by 2025 as supply dries up and prices rise.

Beacon Road lounge and kitchen area. Image credit - David Phillips | PBSA News
Beacon Road lounge and kitchen area. Image credit: David Phillips.

Rising numbers of university-goers and a slowing supply of new student housing means that by 2025, the UK will face a shortfall of around 450,000 student beds, according to the latest data from StuRents – the country’s largest portal for student accommodation. The research comes from the StuRents data portal which provides a comprehensive source of unique information on student accommodation.

Analysing the growth in university enrolments as well as demand and number of new student schemes being built, results showed that just over 248,000 beds are likely to be delivered between 2017 and 2025 – compared with an additional 700,000 students needing accommodation. This data shows a shortfall of circa 450,000 student beds. The data from 2022 suggests that there is currently a shortage of around 207,000 beds.

Since 2017, purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) rents have grown by an average of 3.7% per year. Over the same period, HMO rents have risen by an average of 5.1% per year.

The shortage in supply is partly due to the fact that the number of student beds submitted for planning has slowed dramatically over time (see chart below). This is also reflected in the number of student beds delivered in the last few years (see second chart below).

Beds submitted. Source: StuRents | PBSA News
Beds submitted. Source: StuRents.
Beds added per year. Source: StuRents | PBSA News
Beds added per year. Source: StuRents.

“The squeeze in supply is likely due to multiple factors. Planning applications for new purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) are slowing and low compared to historical levels. This is probably down to multiple factors including availability of sites, oversupply in some markets and construction costs.”

Richard Ward, Head of Research, StuRents

Local councils have also been implementing Article 4 directions, which require landlords to seek planning permission to convert a residential dwelling into a home of multiple occupation (HMO) i.e., a student let. 

“This could be because councils don’t want to be seen to be allowing landlords to reduce the number of properties available for families. Although an Article 4 doesn’t make it impossible for landlords to turn properties into student lets, it does make it harder and creates further barriers to supply growth of student properties. The recently announced Renters Reform Bill, which impacts HMOs could also have a detrimental impact – although the outcome is unclear at this stage.” 

Richard Ward, Head of Research, StuRents

Another factor that could worsen the situation is the rising 18-yr-old population. The number of UK full-time students has been on the rise despite a decline in the 18-yr-old population. ONS data indicates the trend for declining numbers in this age group is set to reverse (see chart below), which is likely to increase demand further.

18 yr-old growth. Source: ONS, hesa.ac.uk | PBSA News
18 yr-old growth. Source: ONS, hesa.ac.uk.

“UK higher education continues to remain attractive to foreign students and there is government policy in place to increase the number of international students going forward. Both factors suggest strong growth in demand in the future – which will further squeeze supply for students.” 

Richard Ward, Head of Research, StuRents

StuRents’ data portal provides a comprehensive insight into the UK’s student accommodation sector, including supply composition, demand seasonality and pricing at an intra-city level – as well as integrating third-party information such as PBSA planning applications and university enrolments.