Demand for student accommodation has long exceeded availability across much of the UK, which largely explains why so many buy-to-let landlords choose to invest in the student rental sector. But that could be about to change as a consequence of Brexit.
Universities across the UK are experiencing a dramatic fall in applications from EU students since the vote to leave the European Union last June, the latest data from UCAS has revealed.
UK applicant figures have also fallen to a total of 469,490 – a drop of 5% on this time last year, and international students by a small margin.
Students applying for places from the EU are down by 7%, which is the first fall in almost a decade.
The decline in numbers comes amid industry-wide fears over the potential effects of Brexit on higher education institutions.
Leading academics have warned MPs that a hard Brexit could be a major blow for higher education in the UK and that leaving the EU could cause irreversible damage to the reputation of universities across the country.
According to figures provided by StudentTenant.com, the student rental sector could miss out on around £383m over the next three years, based on average rental expenditure of £4,834 per year, if the falling trend in applications continues.
Danielle Cullen, manager director of StudentTenant.com, said: “In the midst of all the snap election hype and what Brexit deal the UK will end up with, naturally landlords are worried about the uncertainty surrounding the student lettings market. It is a concern that applications to UK higher education are falling in nearly all areas, and some EU students are being put off over Britain’s choice to leave the EU.
“The huge fall in university applications will have a significant impact on student rental property demand. Landlords are the ones who will feel the strain the most, as supply could well outgrow demand for student properties as we see fewer students at universities. This is a complete contrast to what we have been seeing in the student market recently, with an undersupply of properties for a long time in a lot of areas.
“In the upcoming election, the political parties must recognise this and put forward a plan to ensure Britain remains welcoming to international students. Not just for the student rental market, but to attract the world’s best talent to British universities.”