Company News

The evolution of student accommodation over the past 15 years

  • Gemma
  • 11 Sep 2019
  • Company News
Author: Gemma





The world of student accommodation is changing all the time. As students’ habits and preferences evolve, so too do the places they live.

Long gone are the days of dingy and smelly flats – today’s students are far more interested in higher living standards, with convenience and modern facilities now essential to many people at university. Indeed, the quality of living is now a key factor for current and prospective students when it comes to choosing a place to live; a joint study by UCAS and Knight Frank found that 67% of students cited this as a priority.

This year marks Experience Invest’s 15th birthday, and since our launch in 2004 we have seen first-hand how the student accommodation sector has evolved.

For one, there’s been a noticeable shift from traditional university accommodation to purpose-build student accommodation (PBSA). As of the 2018/19 academic year, almost a third (30%) of full-time first-year students across the UK opted for the latter – a rise of 8% on figures from five years prior. And behind this movement lies the ever-changing demands of the modern-day student.

The rise of PBSA

This rise in PBSA is largely being driven by the surge of international students in search of a ‘home away from home’ while studying in the UK. EU students, for instance, make up 7% of the country’s full-time undergraduate students, and are more likely to live in PBSA than domestic students, according to HESA data.

Specifically, international students are looking for developments that have a modern finish and are equipped with excellent facilities – properties which offer not only convenience but also the comforts not typically afforded by traditional university accommodation or private flat shares.

We cannot ignore the social aspect of student life has also drastically changed over the years, too. Driven by a more health-conscious movement, students are spending less money on alcohol and going out, and more on things like gym memberships.

This has resulted in another notable trend, which has shaped the industry over the past 15 years; demand for PBSA offering amenities like onsite gyms, study spaces, and communal areas that foster socialising (cinema rooms, games rooms, and so forth) is at an all-time high. In short, students are primarily searching for housing that offers all of these amenities under one roof.

Experience Invest’s role in supporting the modern student

Since our launch, Experience Invest has been committed to offering desirable, high-quality accommodation options to support the needs of the country’s bustling student population – both domestic and international. Today, we boast a number of developments ranging from Opto Village in Luton, to Opto Student in the heart of Newcastle.

Importantly, as well as working with the Opto family of businesses to help construct and manage excellent PBSA development, we also partner with private investors. We give individuals the chance to invest in student accommodation and realise the benefits of owning real estate in this growing, in-demand sector.

As the market grows further and student standards constantly evolve, we will continue to provide university students more choice of living, equipped with everything they need to suit their evolving needs. What’s more, we will open these opportunities to investors keen to access the PBSA space.

To find out more information about investing in the UK’s profitable student property market, download Experience Invest’s  2020 UK Student Accommodation Investment Guide.

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