With almost 600,000 students set to descend on UK cities this October, Jacqui Glenn, director at Argos for Business, explains how strengthening plans and preparations ahead of the new academic year can ease some pressure points for university accommodation providers.
Since the government removed the cap on UK student numbers in 2014, there has been a steady rise in the student population, with the latest UCAS figures showing a 0.2% rise in applicants to higher education institutions for 2016/17. With increased demand for higher education comes a need for suitable accommodation.
According to Knight Frank, the student housing market is booming with a 3.65% rental growth across the UK last year. And with NUS-Unipol reporting the average weekly rent for student accommodation stands at £147, an 18% increase since 2012-13[i], students have come to expect far more from their properties than previous years. In fact, in recent years there has been a rise in ‘luxury’ student accommodation, based on a hospitality model ordinarily reserved for high-end hotels.
Whereas not all accommodation can be modelled on luxury living, well-presented rooms and functioning furniture and equipment play a vital role in the student experience. With this in mind, the upcoming summer holidays presents university accommodation providers with the perfect opportunity to ensure that their properties are up to scratch, making the students’ investment worthwhile. Those that do this will reap the benefits, particularly as an impressive 600,000 discerning students are set to descend on the UK’s cities this October.
Working alongside universities, Argos for Business (AfB) is enabling institutions to answer this shift in demand for quality accommodation. AfB takes a partnership approach to provide solutions that offer the university, and its students, the products that can enhance their student experience.
The Argos Business Account allows accommodation providers and universities access to over 50,000 Argos products, offering 4% discount on all orders and extended payment terms of up to 37 days, to help stretch budgets further.
Whereas not all accommodation can be modelled on luxury living, well-presented rooms and functioning furniture and equipment play a vital role in the student experience
A report by Accommodation for Students showed that students are expecting more from providers in ways of accommodation management. Problems such as lack of communication, poor upkeep of property, and lack of response on maintenance issues, were the most frequent complaints amongst students. With a dense student population it is inevitable that, once the accommodation is full, items will eventually need replacing or repairing, and sometimes as an emergency. In these circumstances universities need to respond quickly to students, and ensure broken or damaged items are replaced, ensuring a comfortable stay for students and value for money.
Unlike the hospitality industry, it’s not as simple as offering up a new room to a dissatisfied undergraduate whose furniture or equipment may be damaged. Instead, the student will urgently require a replacement for the faulty / broken item, so they can continue to enjoy their accommodation without disruption. Implementing a reliable procurement service ahead of the new academic year will enable accommodation providers to handle orders that require urgent action throughout each semester.
Facilitating this need, Argos for Business’ Fast Track is a same day delivery and collection service, providing increased speed and efficiency to the education and student accommodation sector. Corporate customers are now guaranteed same day delivery on many items straight to their premises on orders placed by 6pm, seven days a week. This is desirable for universities that need to replace items as a matter of urgency, avoiding disruptions to students and minimising the amount of time staff have to spend off site.
Student life has evolved significantly, and undergraduates, just like your everyday consumer, demand the best service and premium accommodation for their money. Preparing properties ahead of a new academic year and maintaining them throughout each semester will become a vital component of delivering the best in student accommodation now and in the future.