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Student Housing Market Trends by Jeremy Leach

In a series of articles on the Alumno Group website we will be looking at some of the trends in the student housing market and the drivers of the strong growth that we have seen in recent years.


This month, we look at the growth in full-time student numbers in the UK that were recently highlighted with the publication of the latest figures for 2016/17 by the Higher Education and Statistics Authority (HESA).


In 2016/17 full-time student numbers in the UK saw the highest level of annual growth since 2009/10 increasing by 3.3{2f93870e82e913c19b0b1699a839f387dc767927ffac0dc96049da033c6be348} to stand at almost 1.8 million. All of the four home nations saw year-on-year increases with England at the top of the tree with a 3.6{2f93870e82e913c19b0b1699a839f387dc767927ffac0dc96049da033c6be348} rise.


The trend towards full-time rather than part-time study in Higher Education shows no signs of abating with 78{2f93870e82e913c19b0b1699a839f387dc767927ffac0dc96049da033c6be348} of all students in Higher Education now studying full-time; this figure is up from 69{2f93870e82e913c19b0b1699a839f387dc767927ffac0dc96049da033c6be348} in 2011/12 and 61{2f93870e82e913c19b0b1699a839f387dc767927ffac0dc96049da033c6be348} in 2000/01. This of course has implications for accommodation as students in part-time study are more likely to be studying close to where they live at home.


The days of rapid growth in overseas student numbers appear to be behind us now with annual growth averaging just 1{2f93870e82e913c19b0b1699a839f387dc767927ffac0dc96049da033c6be348} in the past four years compared with more than 6{2f93870e82e913c19b0b1699a839f387dc767927ffac0dc96049da033c6be348} in the four years leading up to the increase in tuition fees in 2012/13.


The performance of the Russell Group of 24 universities continues to be strong with their annual growth in full-time student numbers averaging 3.5{2f93870e82e913c19b0b1699a839f387dc767927ffac0dc96049da033c6be348} for the last four years compared to a UK average of 1.7{2f93870e82e913c19b0b1699a839f387dc767927ffac0dc96049da033c6be348}.


So overall the fundamentals of demand for purpose-built student accommodation remain strong with a pattern of strong growth and even increasing growth in full time student numbers in the four years since the tuition fee increase of 2012/13 (+0.8{2f93870e82e913c19b0b1699a839f387dc767927ffac0dc96049da033c6be348}; +0.1{2f93870e82e913c19b0b1699a839f387dc767927ffac0dc96049da033c6be348}; +2.6{2f93870e82e913c19b0b1699a839f387dc767927ffac0dc96049da033c6be348}; +3.3{2f93870e82e913c19b0b1699a839f387dc767927ffac0dc96049da033c6be348}).


There are some clouds on the horizon though as applications to UK universities fell by 4{2f93870e82e913c19b0b1699a839f387dc767927ffac0dc96049da033c6be348} for the academic year starting in autumn 2017. The latest figures from March 2018 from UCAS also show a further 2{2f93870e82e913c19b0b1699a839f387dc767927ffac0dc96049da033c6be348} fall in the number of undergraduate applications at this stage in the cycle for courses beginning in autumn 2018. These declines are thought to be linked to the increase in course fees at the start of the 2017/18 academic year and a fall in the number of 18 year olds in the UK population; this though is expected to bottom out within the next few years.

Students at University College London where full-time student numbers have averaged 8.3{2f93870e82e913c19b0b1699a839f387dc767927ffac0dc96049da033c6be348} growth over the past 4 years