Unite, the specialist student accommodation provider, this week reported that 99% of its rooms had been reserved for the 2008-09 academic year, with a like-for-like rental growth of 11% over the last academic year.

Student accommodation has moved on from the 1960s-style council blocks and gusty old halls of residences to become a modern and potentially lucrative business.

In fact, it has been one of the few bright spots for the beleaguered property industry in recent months. While job losses and a consumer slowdown affect demand for property in the offices and retail sectors, there is no sign that student numbers are in decline.

There are about 2.4m students in the UK, an increase of 27% since 1999, and Unite forecasts that this will rise to 3m by 2014.

Student applications are up 9.4% for the 2008-09 academic year, according to UCAS, the university applications service.

Financial Times