Britain is experiencing a chronic shortage of housing. A complete lack of construction over the past seven years has hampered the market considerably, but one of the most common strains at a local level is the influx of overseas students wanting to live and study in the UK.
The prestige of a British education continues to draw students from around the globe, but with a traditional university degree lasting for a minimum of 3-4 years, the price of housing these students can come at a cost for local councils as students, both foreign and domestic, vie with the local population and workers for accommodation.
Published UK CISA statistics state that more than 425,000 international students enrolled onto Higher Education courses in the UK in the 2012/13 academic year. Couple this with the over two billion domestic students that were accepted into universities in the same period, and you have a snapshot of the problems that popular university cities are facing.
Nottingham is a prime example of a city feeling the pressure. Home to Nottingham Trent University and the University of Nottingham, the local population is swelled each year with over 55,000 students wanting to study in the historical city, an issue that the local council have pledged to tackle head-on with the introduction of the Housing Nottingham Plan 2012-2015. In addition to planning the construction of new homes, the plan highlights the shortage of purpose-built student housing in the city and welcomes the addition of high-quality housing, designed specifically for students.
Another university town which is experiencing a shortage of housing is Middlesbrough. Located on the South Bank of the River Tees in north-east England, the local population numbers over 140,000, with students studying at the University of Teesside numbering approx. 28,000. As the university only owns 1,124 beds, any students missing out on a place have to seek out alternative residences, which may have an impact on the housing availability for local residents.
The development of purpose-built schemes, such as the 230-room Rede House on Corporation Road is helping to alleviate the burden placed on local councils, by providing competitively priced rooms that appeal to today’s commercially-minded students.
As an investment vehicle, purpose-built student accommodation has out-performed all other property investments in the UK for at least the last two years. Total investment in UK student accommodation breached £2bn for the consecutive year in 2013, with regional yields averaging between 6.50% and 7.25%, much higher than the London average of 6%.
With the desire for a British education showing no signs of abating (6.6% more applicants were accepted onto HE courses in 2013/14 academic year, than in 2012/13), student accommodation is set to be a profitable income-generator for years to come.