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Should you invest near the best universities?

Should you invest near the best universities?

The talk of the higher education world this week has been Oxford and Cambridge falling down various league tables. This is almost unprecedented and has shocked many. The latest edition of the Guardian University Guides saw Oxford fall to third place, with the Scottish university St. Andrews taking its place in second behind Cambridge. Conversely, Oxford rose from fifth to fourth in the latest international university rankings table compile by data research group QS, with Cambridge recording its worst ever result by slipping to seventh.

The QS rankings contained bad news for British universities on the whole, with two thirds of our 84 universities in the top 1,000 being downgraded this year following similar declines in 2016 and 2017. However, this shouldn’t give anyone the idea that students are going to go elsewhere.

The latest figures from UCAS show that the overall number of applications for the 2019/20 academic year is an increase over the previous year. Of these applications, almost a fifth were from overseas – those most likely to want and pay for private student accommodation.

So, given that students are still keen on attending the many excellent British universities, does it follow that investors should look for properties near the best universities?

It might seem to be a logical train of thought, but the reality is that the biggest name universities are often not in the places with the best rental yields for investors looking at student accommodation.

According to the latest research from, it is worth looking at the academic tier just below the traditional powerhouses of Oxford and Cambridge. The consultancy found that university cities such as Newcastle, Manchester, Leeds, Nottingham, Birmingham, Leicester and Sheffield came top of the charts for student accommodation investment.

Not coincidentally, these are the places where economies and populations are growing as the glow begins to wear off London slightly. The local universities are a key part of the economic growth in these cities, and the success creates a feedback loop: as the cities become more well known as up-and-coming destinations more students want to live and study in them. As more students arrive, the universities can achieve and contribute further.

This is a great time to invest in student accommodation – if you’re looking for your next buy to let, get in touch today.