October 31st, 2014
This is the quote from student housing expert, Roger Lown of GVA property consultants. Students’ rising expectations have also been noted by a Guardian article which opens with the statement, “Students these days are no longer prepared to live like the Young Ones, it seems.”
Unfortunately, as students’ wish lists become more sophisticated, accommodation is in a higher demand than ever. The numbers of first-years have rocketed recently. This year an extra 30,000 students were able to take places at university as caps on numbers were loosened. Next year there will be no restrictions on university places.
An increase in university places is generally seen as a positive, but only if universities are able to cater for the influx. Bristol Students’ Union’s Student Living Officer, Tom Phipps stressed this, saying “It’s something that is affecting [students] right across the higher education sector and with the drive from universities for expansion we need to be really careful the student experience regarding accommodation isn’t diminished as a result.”
Despite warnings, many students are now scrambling for whatever accommodation is available. The BBC recently reported on the hundreds of students having to share bedrooms in university halls, or living in completely different cities with minimal transport budgets to get back and forth from campus. Ultimately, first-years are frequently offered places on courses, but not places to live.
Accommodation is becoming more crucial though. Stephen Marston, vice-chancellor of the University of Gloucestershire, has noted how, “When we have applicants and their parents here on open days, their first set of questions is about the course, but the next question is always ‘Where will I live?’ It is very much part of the whole deal.””
Contemporary, boutique rooms are the most coveted. All students would love en-suites or studios, fast Wi-Fi and hotel like facilities, but the lack of available accommodation means often even those with enough money for luxuries find these rare rooms are already taken. Whilst universities and private developers are working hard to create impressive properties for students to live in, these large projects often take a lot of time to complete.
All in all, quality student accommodation is in higher demand than ever before and doesn’t look to ease in the coming years, especially if universities continue to accept more students than they can house. Students’ tastes are maturing and although they are happier to pay for extra facilities and better locations, they sometimes end up with neither.