International students views on accommodation

The Property Marketing Strategists (TPMS) release insights into what international students want from their accommodation.

TPMS have released insights into what international students require and prioritise from their accommodation | PBSA News

Property marketing consultancy TPMS recently undertook research into international students views on accommodation. Student numbers are at an all-time high, and amidst this, international student numbers are continuing to grow with nearly half a million visas granted in 2022. There are many influences on the cost of accommodation. However, the planning crisis has made it harder to build, aided by rising cost of materials and higher cost of borrowing.

TPMS found that like domestic students, affordability is on the radar for international students, with 75% saying student accommodation is too expensive. According to data from StudentCrowd, 45% of purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) buildings have studios compared to only 14% of buildings that have four to six-bedroom clusters across the UK.

“PBSA is a numbers game. The sector has been booming, but because demand outstrips supply – over love for the product available. As competition intensifies in the sector, diversity of offer is what is required – and a tool to do this is to simply offer a range of different options – yes, studios, but also four-to-five-bedroom apartments enabling students to create stronger community bonds and enabling opportunities to share amenities too. This also creates a more sustainable product that can be repurposed if required in future. We need to banish the studio demand myth; international students largely do not want to live alone – in fact our research shows just 12% reported so.”

Sarah Canning, Co-Founder, TPMS

The enthusiasm for sharing bathrooms is notably lower. TPMS found that international students are reluctant to share a bathroom regardless of financial concerns, with only 21% expressing agreement. Notably, African students are particularly opposed to sharing bathrooms, with less than 10% considering it, while Indian students surpass the average, with 31% willing to share.

Moreover, 61% of parents/guardians pay for university accommodation, with just 12% using a maintenance or government loan. Alongside this, 77% of international students want all utility bills included in their rent payments, even if this results in paying a higher overall rent. 57% would like a washing machine in their apartment.

International students show a strong inclination towards stability, with 22% favouring a 12-month lease. This desire for a longer contract is emphasised by the findings that 32% of international students from Asia prefer accommodation contracts for the full length of their degree. This contrasts with the 19% figure among European students, highlighting regional variations in accommodation preferences.

“Over 50% want to live with three to four other people, they don’t mind sharing kitchens and breakout spaces – but there is some reluctance on sharing bathrooms, which could be negated if only sharing with three other people. What has really surprised me is the fact that a third are willing to share a bedroom, with this rising to 45% amongst Indian Students, which are one of the fasting growing student populations in the UK. What this tells me is that we really need to dismantle what we think we know about international students and listen.” 

Sarah Canning, Co-Founder, TPMS