Student Housing Event 2018

Yesterday, we attended the Student Housing Event in London, alongside hundreds of the leading players in Student Accommodation Property. The panels included investment origin, key deals, main players, opportunities, promising locations, links between PBSA and Co-living, the future of the sector, technology, PRS and more.

In the UK, the well-established Purpose Built Student Accommodation sector continues to evolve, with a promising development pipeline of 68,000 beds under construction, including:

  • 9,105 in London
  • 697 in Manchester
  • 2,321 in Birmingham
  • 4,600 in Liverpool

Knight Frank also presented the ratio of students per PBSA bedroom – 2.9 to 1 in the UK, including beds under construction. This reveals the market is not saturated and it’s an indication that we might keep seeing growth in this sector. Below is the student per PBSA bedroom ratio in some of the main cities for this market:

  • 3.4 to 1 in London
  • 2.9 to 1 in Manchester
  • 2.8 to 1 in Birmingham
  • 1.7 to 1 in Liverpool

In the meantime, in other European regions, as presented by Studentmarketing, we can see a truly under-supplied market and, consequently, a significant opportunity for PBSA providers and investors looking to expand internationally. For some cities in southern Europe – such as Barcelona, Madrid, Paris, Bologna and Lisbon – the supply represents only 5% (or less) of the demand, being as little as 3% in Milan, where the total student population is nearly 200,000, with a total of only 6,712 beds, as seen in the table below.

When it comes to the future of student accommodation, one of the topics in the discussion was the ever-changing consumer. In a digital world, people are used to immediacy and the young digital natives are demanding, anxious and non-linear learners. It’s important that the PBSA providers offer what this target market needs, keeping up with technology trends and bringing disruptive innovation in how to best communicate with the current and future generations of students.

However, it was also pointed out that technology can lead to isolation if not used carefully. Having a moral obligation to care for the students’ mental wellbeing, PBSA providers added that there are initiatives to make students feel included, such as group activities and common areas that feel like a safe space for residents who might not be comfortable with too much interaction at first, such as cinema rooms.

As a specialist recruiter for the PBSA sector, we were encouraged by the presentations delivered by Tim Mitchell of GSA and Rob Roger of IQ. Both were keen to draw attention to the importance of embedding a positive culture and motivating their workforce through clearly defined values and company visions. IQ & GSA added that the wellbeing of their staff would play a huge role in reaching growth targets.

It was great to gain more insight on market data and predictions for Student Housing around the globe, as well as the views of some of the biggest players in the sector. The conference was also an excellent opportunity to network and hear opinions from a range of professionals and see there is a lot of interest in PBSA, Co-living and PRS. We’re looking forward to seeing more growth in these sectors.