growing sector

The UK’s purpose-built student accommodation sector is continuing to grow and attract investment as we emerge from the disruption created by Covid-19. The UK remains an attractive place to study, evidenced by the sustained appetite amongst international students for returning to attend this country’s higher education establishments. The healthy build-pipeline numbers in the UK also demonstrate that the sector continues to attract investment. Confidence is returning despite travel restrictions still being in place and teaching methods at universities remaining in a state of flux.

Location is key

However, investment in student accommodation must be targeted to the right place to achieve returns: location is everything and some cities have become saturated with student beds. In strategic cities, opportunities exist for investment in long-term, income generating assets that are counter-cyclical.

Strong basis for growth

Strong supply growth is evident, especially in regional centres. There has been an increase in the supply of purpose-built student accommodation beds between 2020 and 2021 in London and major regional UK cities, according to StuRents, the UK’s largest student accommodation search platform. Research by StuRents shows that Covid-19 has not deterred investors to the UK. Reasons include the reputation of the UK for education and the overriding fact that Great Britain remains an attractive place in which to live and study for three years or more. Other factors include a return to growth in the 18-year-old population and a continued increase in the numbers of international students.

Regional outlook

Confidence in the continued growth of the market is demonstrated by the uplift in bed supply figures; for example, these have increased in the 2021-22 academic year to date by 1,362 beds in Nottingham and in Sheffield by 1,351 beds.

In the pipeline

London maintains its position of having the largest pipeline of purpose-built student accommodation at 14,235 student beds. Pipeline figures for Nottingham are 7,827 and 6,499 for Bristol, highlighting the continued growth of student accommodation in regional hubs.