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67% of students say accommodation provides good value for money

The views and opinions of British and international students regarding their accommodation choices across the UK have been unveiled in the largest survey of its kind in this country.

The inaugural Student Accommodation Survey, compiled by Knight Frank between May and August 2018, in collaboration with UCAS, canvassed the opinion of more than 70,000 applicants and revealed some interesting findings.

Across the UK, approximately 30% of full time first-year undergraduates live in purpose-build student accommodation (PCSA) owned or operated by private providers, up from 22% five years ago. A further 40% live in University halls, and the remaining 30% of first-years live in the private rented sector or at home with parents.

Key Findings from the survey:

+ The majority of students said they were happy with their accommodation choice for the year, however levels of happiness were slightly higher for those living in private PBSA (76%) and university accommodation (76%) than students living in the private rented sector (73%)

+ The key drivers of happiness in private PBSA are location, the option to live with friends and the quality of accommodation.

+ When it comes to finding somewhere to live, the single most important factor influencing the choice students make is value for money. Some 97% of respondents rated this as being important to them, with approximately half rating it as extremely important.

+ Just over two thirds - 67% - of students rated their accommodation as good value for money with a further 12% saying it was neither good nor poor value. Value for money was comparable regardless of whether students were living in private PBSA, University accommodation or in the private rented sector.

+ Parental involvement also has a role to play when it comes to finding somewhere to live, especially for first-year students, with 76% saying that their parents were involved when they were deciding where to live. This was much lower for second-year and third-year students, with nearly half (45%) saying that their parents had no involvement at all.

+ The survey also points to affordability being an issue influencing student wellbeing. Some 63% of students identified living costs as being very important when it came to their overall wellbeing.

+ Some 41% of final-year students intend to remain in the city in which they studied. Graduate retention is highest in London (67%), followed by Edinburgh (47%), Manchester (46%) and Birmingham (41%).

+ Thinking about where they intend to live following graduation, more than half of students said they would move directly into a property in the private rented sector, with a further 31% saying they would move back to the family home after graduating.

James Pullan, global head of student property at Knight Frank, said: “The focus on student accommodation has never been so acute and with several universities facing financial challenges, as well as the potential impacts of the Augar Review on tuition fees, universities must ensure that they get their accommodation offering right.

“Our survey comes at a time when the private purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) sector in the UK faces its own set of challenges; not least from policy and from competition in what has become an increasingly global market for higher education.

“The private sector now accounts for the majority of new PBSA development, and, as universities become more reliant on outside investment to provide new PBSA, greater focus is likely to be placed on the strength of the relationship between the private sector and universities. The ability for both to work together and bring new product and innovation to market will be key to future success.”

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    Don't do student lets, they are a pain, and generally their parents are worse

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    I do a lot of student lets and find the threat of a ccj concentrates the minds of relatively affluent parents in the rare occasions where they get stroppy. The only downside is having to go and change light bulbs, unblock loos and sinks, wash windows and weed gardens - but the higher rents and zero arrears compensate for any extra work. Also any damage tends to be due to irresponsibilty rather than malice.

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