QX hosts student accommodation insights evening

QX hosts a student accommodation insights evening at The Shard: navigating PBSA challenges in 2024.

QX Global Group hosted its student housing insights evening at their Shard HQ | PBSA News
QX Global Group hosted its student housing insights evening at their Shard HQ.

QX Global Group, the leading provider of financial support and analysis to the UK purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) sector, hosted a student housing insights evening at their Shard HQ in late January. Attended by over 100 senior executives from the wider PBSA arena, the event was anchored by a panel discussion chaired by ex JLL student housing chief, Philip Hillman. The panelists were: David Tymms (Non-executive Director at QX and Housemates), Paul Humphreys (CEO, Student Crowd), Mark Quigley (MD, Beaufort Capital), Karen Best (Director, PWC) and Paddy Jackman (CEO, Unipol).

The panel was tasked with examining some of the pressing issues currently surrounding student accommodation in the UK.

The discussion opened with insights from Paul Humphreys, who shed light on the supply-demand imbalance and its ramifications on affordability. He brought attention to the significant rise in university student numbers and the concurrent decrease in available student HMOs, highlighting increasing rents and their influence on student choices.

Karen Best shifted focus to the financial sustainability challenges confronting universities. She emphasised the issues stemming from fixed domestic fee caps, the costliness of research activities, and the crucial role of international students in maintaining universities’ financial health. Karen also brought up the need for reform in domestic fee policies and the impact of potential policy changes on higher education.

David Tymms shared his extensive experience in student housing and higher education, discussing the evolution of the sector and the impact of planning policy changes as they affect new PBSA, particularly in the London Plan. He expressed concerns about the policy’s unintended consequences, such as reduced competitiveness of student developers and its potential replication in other cities.

Mark Quigley spoke about the development finance aspects of the sector. He acknowledged the continuous demand and growth potential in student accommodation but noted the challenges posed by rising debt costs. Mark advocated the potential for more collaboration with universities to deliver more affordable accommodation options.

Paddy Jackman centered his discussion on the educational impact of housing issues. He emphasised the growing divide between students who can afford university accommodation and those who cannot, highlighting the importance of diverse student communities. Paddy pointed out the flaws in the current maintenance loan system and its effect on student choices, advocating for necessary reforms.

Throughout the panel, there was a consensus on the need for a multifaceted approach to address the challenges in student accommodation. The discussion highlighted the importance of understanding students’ needs, the financial pressures on universities, and the potential policy implications on the sector. The panelists underscored the need for innovative solutions, better collaboration between private operators and universities, and policy reforms to ensure the sector’s growth and sustainability.

The event concluded with a broader reflection on the future of student accommodation, considering the needs of the upcoming Generation Alpha. The panelists agreed on the necessity of adapting to changing student expectations and the evolving educational landscape. The discussion at QX Global Group’s event provided a comprehensive overview of the current state and prospects of the student accommodation sector in the UK.