New research reveals that there are currently 3.1 students for every student bed available, as those heading or returning to university fight it out for limited accommodation, because of an overwhelmed and under-stocked rental market and a lack of purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA).
The research by Stripe Property Group estimates that there are now 2,180,419 full-time university students across the UK, 8% more than prior to the pandemic (2019/20). At the same time, there are only 697,734 student beds available and while this has been steadily increasing, this number has grown just 6% when compared to pre-pandemic levels.
As a result, there are now 3.1 students for every one bed available to them, up from 3 students for every one bed in 2019/20. This represents a current shortfall of almost 1.5m student beds to meet the demand required across the PBSA sector.
When analysing current demand for student rental properties, the problem facing many university students remains abundantly clear. Despite the new academic year having only recently started, there’s already high demand for student rentals from those looking in advance of next year.
The research also shows that across 15 of the UK’s major university towns, almost a fifth of student specific rental properties available to rent in the current market have already been snapped up. This demand is at its highest in Brighton, where 48% of all student rentals have already been taken. In London, 40% of student properties are already let, while in Glasgow (32%), Bristol (29%) and Edinburgh (28%) it’s around a third.
“PBSA plays a vital role in the lives of many young tenants and for the majority it will be their first experience of living away from home. Those lucky enough to secure a bed will find that there are some outstanding developments available to them, designed specifically to help maximise both their academic and social life while at university.
“Unfortunately, for every one student that does find a place to live, there are now more than two who won’t, and this lack of affordable, purpose-built living can cause an immense amount of stress and anxiety at a time when they should be focussing solely on their studies.
“As it stands, the private rental sector is left to pick up the slack, but this often means paying way above the odds to rent a home that is quite often not fit for purpose.
“It’s easy to see why the nation’s students feel their voice isn’t being heard on this issue as there is a real lack of initiative from the government to cultivate a thriving PBSA sector. Although why would they when they’ll happily sit back and collect the interest charged on student loans for the next thirty odd years, after many students have had to spend almost the entirety of their loan simply to put a roof over their heads.”James Forrester, Managing Director, Stripe Property Group