Ten Cities Rent Survey - CUBO Perspective

27 October 2023      Jan Capper, CUBO Executive Director

According to a new report from Unipol and HEPI, rents for student accommodation have increased by an average of 14.6% over the past two academic years and now take up nearly all of the average maintenance loan.

The Ten Cities Rent Survey was conducted in response to the unprecedent rent rises and supply issues of the past two academic years.  It includes data submitted by universities and the 10 largest providers of purpose-built student accommodation in 10 major regional university cities.

In these cities, average annual rents in 2021/22 stood at £6,520. In 2023/4 they have increased to £7,475 and across England as a whole, average annual rents now stand at £7,566.

Using ONS forecasting, Unipol calculate that the average maintenance loan received by English students this current academic year is expected to be £7,590, meaning rents swallow up virtually 100% of the average loan and more than three quarters (76%) of the maximum loan.

CUBO Board Lead for Housing Codes and Standards Robin Walsh (Head of Residential Services, Bournemouth University), responds to the Ten Cities Rent Survey:

“This report is welcomed but shocking at the same time. Universities need to read the findings of this report not so much as a housing issue but as an educational one!

With rising rents, insufficient student funding and broader cost of living pressures, the report suggest that students will begin to, if they are not already doings so, choose their place of study based on what they can afford, as opposed to what they want to study. This year, although there are more university aged young people than ever before, we have seen a decrease in UCAS applications (down 2.5%). We can’t say for certain this is due to financial pressures, but it is a wake-up call.

Another key point from the report is that both universities and accommodation providers state that “insufficient supply” and then “affordability” are the two main challenges they face in future. However, where there is a lack of supply, we have seen rental levels increase more than where there is a more evenly balanced portfolio. For many undersupplied university towns and cities, this has a depressing inevitability about it.

But there are glimmers of hope, with the report setting out several recommendations that should be read and considered in the round. Once again, it is the word “partnership” that jumps out, with any change only occurring when all stakeholder work together to find solutions, and that means private PBSA providers, local authorities, central government and universities.”

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