Friday, January 13, 2006

UK student housing boom

Bristol-based property experts King Sturge say tuition fees will not halt the UK student housing boom. The firm says that universities are increasingly looking to replace their ageing residential accommodation...

12:56 - 12 January 2006
Bristol-based property experts King Sturge say tuition fees will not halt the UK student housing boom. The firm says that universities are increasingly looking to replace their ageing residential accommodation as student numbers continue to rise - despite the uncertainty caused by £3,000-a-year tuition fees introduced this year.

King Sturge believes the number of high-quality, modern, city centre, student residences will continue to grow over the coming years.

The company found that while the number of commerciallyoperated halls of residences had risen 50 per cent since its last research was published in January 2004, that figure still only represented 6.7 per cent of all full-time students in Higher Education (HE).

King Sturge's latest research indicates that more than 25,000 student beds have planning consent.

Bristol-based Unite Group is the largest national commercial provider of student beds, having completed more than 30,000 and with another 8,000 in the pipeline.

Philip Hillman is the national head of King Sturge's student accommodation group and is based in Bristol.

He said: 'Modern, quality-built and well-located residences should show sustained rental growth for the foreseeable future.

Older schemes in secondary locations may struggle to compete with the high-quality, city centre schemes now being developed."

Mr Hillman believes student numbers will continue to rise to meet the Government's target of getting 50 per cent of school leavers into HE.He said: "The UK population of 18-year-olds is predicted to rise to more than 800,000 in 2009 and then begin to decline gradually to around 684,000 in 2020.

"In addition, there has been a fall in the number of new student numbers from China, which has been offset by a 24 per cent increase in new students from the EU."These fluctuations in overseas student numbers, the possibility of an increasing proportion of 18-year-olds wanting to go to university and the unknown impact of tuition fees from 2006 onwards, make it difficult to predict longer term trends."

Unite chief executive Nicholas Porter said the £10 billion per year injected into the economy by overseas students promised a bright future for student accommodation. He said: "The rise in overseas students wanting safe, managed, accommodation ensured that we had a strong year in 2005."

The private landlord providing student accommodation needs to upgrade to compete with these new developments.

Chris Bell

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