Investment in student accommodation is forecast to top 2016’s figure of £4.5bn by the end of the year.
But delivering affordable accommodation that also offers attractive returns continues to prove challenging, especially with Brexit looming large and a lack of public sector financial support for private student accommodation development.
The key word here is "affordable". If students can afford to come to university but can't afford to live, then they will drop out and no-one benefits. But affordability is different for different students, so pricing accommodation to meet different needs is key. #PWSAdebate— Chris Shelley (@chris_shelley) November 23, 2017
A Combination of planning policy and high build costs and competing uses. More effective partnerships with universities could help viability. #pwsadebate— Jo Winchester (@PBSAguru) November 23, 2017
In a bid to tackle the conundrum, Property Week teamed up with CBRE on 23 November to host a lively #PWSAdebate on whether it is viable to offer affordable student accommodation and if not, what can be done to make it viable.
One problem is that the parents of today’s students had a much better deal - no tuition fees, and cheap HMO rents. Today’s students have a much greater financial burden. #pwsadebate— Jo Winchester (@PBSAguru) November 23, 2017
We should be thinking about who the benefactors are...and encourage all of them to contribute ideas/cost savings. If the UK attracts and retains more domestic and international talent to our workforce by offering affordable PBSA we all win...gov't, corp, uni's, cities etc— GSA Group (@GSASpaceToGrow) November 23, 2017
CBRE executive director Jo Winchester, aka @PBSAguru, and Property Week’s Samantha Partington and Richard Hook fielded questions from across the industry during a fascinating hour-long debate that covered issues ranging from the role of modern methods of construction to the different types of accommodation that should be offered.
The debate generated more than two million impressions across more than 100 tweets, with Winchester concluding that “cheaper accommodation options for students are desirable, but all student accommodation is provided by the private sector, which needs to make a profit… key to success in PBSA is offering rooms at different price points to appeal to all types of students”.
Brexit would seem to be creating less an 'affordability' discussion and maybe more of a 'welcome'/'immigration'/'cultural acceptance' type discussion as the 'turn off' factor...a debate all of its own?— GSA Group (@GSASpaceToGrow) November 23, 2017
It would, but Article 4 has made this harder for private landlords to create new ones. #pwsadebate— Jo Winchester (@PBSAguru) November 23, 2017
Yes and it won't just be the quality of their rooms/cleanliness of their showers. It will be the whole experience - social programmes, common space, welfare systems, transport links, connections with university services.— Chris Shelley (@chris_shelley) November 23, 2017
Maybe the solution is no off site contributions, but clearer requirements as to affordably rented rooms on-site. #PWSAdebate— Jo Winchester (@PBSAguru) November 23, 2017
Student Accommodation Conference
The issue will also be high on the agenda at Property Week’s Student Accommodation Conference & Awards at NCC Birmingham next Thursday, where Winchester will be joined by Richard Kington, director of accommodation services at the University of Edinburgh; Nick Riley, board director at Whittam Cox Architects; Allan Hilton, chief executive at Cass and Claredale Halls of Residence; and Martin Blakey, chief executive of Unipol Student Homes to discuss why affordability matters and how to improve it.
Don’t miss out – book your place at student.propertyweek.com.
Thanks to all those who took part in today's #PWSAdebate - a fantastic 2m impressions across +103k accounts. Especially thanks @PBSAguru @CBRE_UK @SamJPartington1 for providing expertise. For more insights follow @StudentPW, let's keep the debate going til Awards on 7 Dec! pic.twitter.com/dOABX9RwIp— PropertyWeek (@PropertyWeek) November 23, 2017