Sheffield, which is both a city and metropolitan borough in one, can be found in the heart of the North West. With a population in excess of 550,000 people, Sheffield is the 3rd largest district in England. Interestingly, a sizeable proportion of its population is made up of students – in fact, its two world-renowned universities (the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University) manage to attract an impressive 60,000 students, making Sheffield the 4th biggest city in the UK in terms of student population.
And that’s only the beginning: Sheffield’s student body will continue to grow. Whilst universities nationwide are able to recruit an additional 35,000 students in the upcoming academic year 2015/16, both the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam continue to actively invest in the improvement and expansion of their facilities and courses to ensure that they remain highly attractive to prospective students.
Considering that these institutions already retain large amounts of students, it is very surprising that the vast majority of students are in fact not housed by their university. Offering only 5,145 beds to its students, the University of Sheffield fails to accommodate nearly 78% of its students, while Sheffield Hallam University, supplying even less beds, struggles to offer accommodation to an enormous 86%. This has led to the private rented sector in Sheffield, including Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA), having to account for as much as 83% of student housing in the city.
The latest trend of PBSA in Sheffield, as well as the rest of the country, is luxury boutique accommodation. This is partly due to the 30% surge over the past 5 years of international students in Sheffield, which nowadays make up one fifth of its overall student body, and are set to increase even further. International students tend to come from wealthier backgrounds in pursuit of an English education, have high expectations of living centrally and are willing to pay more for high-quality accommodation. Data from Sheffield City Council reveals that on average, international students spend approximately £187.2million annually within Sheffield’s economy.
Today’s students value the contemporary high-quality apartments, along with the centrality and convenience that they offer. When leaving for university, the modern student knows that wherever they will live will have a huge influence on their overall student experience. It is not only the stress-free, secure nature of boutique student living, but moreover it’s about the exceptionally central locations PBSA offers, allowing students to both conveniently reach their university and access the busy, thriving city centre.
Thanks to Sheffield’s central location and excellent infrastructure, the city is easily reachable from everywhere in the UK. It combines the best elements of a small town and a vibrant city. Sheffield is one of the greenest cities in Europe because of its endless woodlands and parks, as well as the fact that one third of Sheffield’s area is made up of the Peak District National Park. On the other hand, Sheffield also offers a cosmopolitan lifestyle for all, boasting a great range of museums and galleries, renowned restaurants, hip bars and concert venues.
Research by global property expert Savills shows that it is in fact the North West that offers the most lucrative investment opportunities. Here, landlords can on average expect 2% higher yields than in London. Whilst savvy investors have already begun to capitalise from the asset that is luxury student accommodation, the market has much more to give: developments such as the popular Alexandra House, Sovereign House and its neighbouring New Bank House project, have proven themselves to be in tremendous demand, from both investors and students alike.
Considering how highly sought-after boutique student accommodation currently is, fuelled by Sheffield’s great image as the go-to UK student destination, it becomes clear that the future of this remarkable city looks very bright and promising, creating a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for savvy investors.