What are the implications of coronavirus on the student accommodation market?

Students want the on-campus experience that student accommodation offers – and it is an important source of revenue. But Covid-19 has changed the market

It is widely accepted that demand for university places is driven by a combined desire for the student experience, the wish to obtain a qualification that supports employability and, hopefully, a desire to learn. 

Student accommodation plays a major role in the creation of the student experience. For most students, the standing of the university looms largest in their choice. First Oxbridge, then, often, a Russell Group university. After that the student experience and consequently student accommodation carries most weight. That is even more true for UK students than for overseas students for whom London is a major draw. 

Just as many US colleges compete for students on the standing of their sports teams, UK universities compete on the quality of their student accommodation. It is a cost but also an important support of revenue – very important in an era when foreign students will be in short supply. 

Students want the on-campus experience student accommodation makes possible. So just as universities are likely to feel greater pressure on their finances from a drop in foreign student numbers, funding must be found to support a vital component of student life. Fortunately, external suppliers of finance are on hand. How much, from where and on what terms is becoming clearer. Student accommodation is an increasingly attractive sector just as many other property sectors are facing reduced demand. This combination puts universities in a better position than they might otherwise have expected.     

Universities can benefit from recent changes in the property market – provided they act wisely and understand the full range of options now available

These changes in the market are covered in a new online series of briefings led by specialists from Cushman & Wakefield, the leading international property consultancy, examining how the delivery of higher education and ‘the student experience’ may be affected by the Covid-19 pandemic both in the short and longer term and the implications for the student accommodation market. This five-part series of detailed briefings will take stock of market developments, the current market, examining trends and looking forward at what this means for the future.  

The potential impact of unprecedented new challenges will be analysed, both in the UK and worldwide. The university and higher education sector must adapt to meet these. As Sarah Jones, partner, public sector advisory team, UK Consulting at Cushman & Wakefield explains, “student accommodation is of fundamental importance to the student experience and the student experience is a major element in the choice of university. Universities can benefit from recent changes in the property market – provided they act wisely and understand the full range of options now available.”  

The briefing on demand, finance, values and related matters – covering what’s the same, what’s changed and what will change following Covid-19 – is designed for providers of university housing and onsite campus accommodation, higher education estate directors, private sector investors, developers, banks and other financiers, planners, advisors and consultants. 

Full details of the online series – The Student Accommodation Market – can be accessed at www.henrystewartconferences.com/property-hub/student-accommodation-market-ss-2020 

If you require any additional information, please contact Tamara Cmiljic at tamarac@henrystewart.co.uk  

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