Universities across the UK that are unable to cope with the pressure of accommodating students may be putting their students’ success at risk, according to research carried out by the Student Village Company.
Statistics released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) show that last year’s full-time equivalent attendance was 1,698,295, while bed spaces, including on-campus and third-party provided, was 361,636. This reveals a ratio of students to purpose-built student beds of approximately 5:1.
With more than 1.7 million full-time students expected this year, and a 6% rise in applications from European Union students, thousands of students could miss out on student accommodation will be forced into the general retail market, which may coerce them to work longer hours than recommended to cover the extra living costs.
Natwest carried out the Student Living Index to understand the financial decisions of students and found that, on average, they are working more during term-time. An average student’s weekly income, according to the survey, is £127.86, with over half of this amount earned during term-time.
Luke Rothwell, director at Bunkabin, the parent company of the Student Village Company, says: “With students still attending university despite rises in tuition fees and the cutting of support, such as the maintenance grant, many are having to fork out for very expensive accommodation outside of their chosen university. This can leave students having to work longer hours resulting in less study time, which could have an impact on their results.
“We understand that students aren’t the only ones feeling the pressure. This time of year can be incredibly stressful for estates departments up and down the country, as universities are struggling to house students through no fault of their own due to massive budget cuts and delays in refurbishment and new build projects. However, if enough isn’t done to accommodate new and returning students, this could have a detrimental effect on their results, and in turn, their future.”
The Student Village Company has experience in helping estate departments during many different types of property crises, including providing the University of Buckingham with 24 replacement rooms after a small fire in the halls of residence and continued expansion at Reaseheath College.
Steve Challinor, facilities manager at Reaseheath College, says: “The Student Village Company provides us with a flexible accommodation capacity, so as long as we have land available, we no longer need to turn away a student because of the accommodation shortages. It is very difficult to predict exact intake numbers, however, where the Student Village Company excels is in being able to provide additional capacity only a few weeks’ before freshers’ week.”