UK Student Housing Market: A Current Overview

THE UK REMAINS ON TARGET WITH THE INTENDED ROADMAP OUT OF LOCKDOWN: THE UK GOVERNMENT IS AIMING TO LIFT ALL RESTRICTIONS FROM 21 JUNE

TRENDS SHAPING THE SECTOR

The 2021 Q1 Knight Frank report shares their insight into the application and enrolment trends likely to affect purpose-built student housing and makes for positive reading, despite the pandemic. More than 728,000 students applied to start a full-time undergraduate course at UK universities for the 2020/21 academic year. This was nearly 22,500 more applicants than the previous year and only the second year-on-year increase in applications in the last five years. A record 41% of all 18-year-olds in the UK applied for a full-time undergraduate course, while there was also a surge in the number of applications from outside of the UK, which climbed 7.5% on 2019 levels. In total, just over a fifth (21%) of all applicants in 2020/21 were from outside the UK. There are early indications that student demand will rise again for the 2021/22 academic year, with January deadline data pointing to an 8.4% increase in applications compared with at the same point in the previous cycle. The rise is the highest comparable year-on year increase since 2010 and was driven predominantly by an increase in UK applicants, which are 11.6% higher than last year. Assuming current levels of participation continue, this will drive domestic demand, with UCAS predicting it will result in 90,000 additional UK applicants by 2025.

OUTLOOK SUMMARY

The UK’s move out of lockdown restrictions and towards some sense of normality brings cautious optimism. Early indicators suggest interest is certainly there for the 2021/22 academic year but understandably decisions will come later once the impact of the lifting of restrictions are better understood, the vaccination programme continues as strongly as it’s begun, and the status of international travel is clearer. Longer term, the outlook for the sector remains extremely positive. Applications are up, the population of 18-year-olds is on the rise and purpose-built student housing has come out of the pandemic as the accommodation type of choice for students choosing to study away from home.
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