Student housing is the hot new asset for those considering property investment, thanks to the shortage of stock in the UK and high demand. However, one expert has questioned whether Britain can actually keep up with accommodation trends and student demands. Writing in the Guardian, Gary Clarke, chief executive of Campus Living Villages UK, explained that to get the highest premiums landlords have to "supply a product that sells".
The US and Australia - two of the other best countries for higher education - have begun to realise this. Over the pond, the average cost of an undergraduate degree has increased by 375 per cent since 1988 and students have come to expect more in return, even when it comes to housing. Similarly, once Australia introduced tuition fees in 1996, accommodation changed, Mr Clarke explained.
Both the US and Australia have risen to meet the challenge, increasing premiums along the way by providing high-spec student living. A survey by Campus Living Villages UK found there is certainly a rational to this and a receptive market. The study of 1,750 British students revealed that comfortable accommodation, with modern, private living was important. Learning and leisure spaces, not to mention unlimited WiFi are also desired. However, it isn't just these relatively basic specifications that will be important in the future for accommodation.
"Studies from universities across the US show that students who live on campus are more involved in campus life, more likely to complete their education and perform better than those that live off campus," Mr Clarke elaborated. This has engendered an entrepreneurial spirit among students and there is an increased demand for student accommodation to double up as a networking hub to form business relationships.
"In some new accommodation, the ground floor better resembles a professional lobby area suitable for business meetings," Mr Clarke said. Could this be the future for the UK? If it is, surely the first step will be to move from a devolved student accommodation system to a more tight-knit, campus-based set-up? Properties will undoubtedly need to be technologically enabled to meet the more advanced needs of students too.
However, in order to stay ahead, UK accommodation will need to evolve to support all parts of the student experience and housing as we currently know it may become a thing of the past. With more and more international students heading to Britain to study, if the country hopes to stay at the forefront of academia landlords will need to align their own personal strategies to those of universities.
- Thursday 04 July 2013