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18th May 2018

Sleep in the bedroom; live in the building: An overview of 2018’s Student Housing Conference

A bright future is predicted for the UK and global student housing sector.

That’s according to the speakers at this year’s Student Housing Conference, which brings together the leading players in the student housing sector. The London-based conference, organised by LD Events and now in its ninth year, is a thorough analysis of student housing as an international investment class, and looks at the key issues in the UK, European and worldwide markets, as well as future opportunities in the sector.

‘Brexit Proof’ 

The tone of the day was cautiously optimistic.

James Pullan, of estate agent Knight Frank, predicted that any impact Brexit may have in attracting EU students wouldn't be catastrophic, as they currently only make up 7% of the UK market. He suggested that the demand in this sector is potentially ‘Brexit proof’, making it an attractive opportunity for investors in the UK market.

Several contributors also noted that universities are now much more commercially aware and more comfortable talking with providers and developers about factors that matter in creating viable schemes. This will certainly help in Nomination Agreement negotiations, a key milestone preceding much of the development activities.

Co-living model

According to Nick Riley, of architectural firm Whittam Cox, the future design of student housing aligned more to a co-living model and is feeding into private rented sector (PRS) expectations for graduates. Riley described this model as 'sleep in the bedroom, live in the building'.

Universities are also increasingly looking to incorporate academic facilities in their student housing developments, to help offset the shortage of teaching space in current facilities that’s now a commonly experienced issue. As demonstrated in Henry Riley’s First Way scheme at Wembley.  

Going global

Some student accommodation providers are going global which is proving successful, with Global Student Accommodation (GSA) talking excitedly about their ‘global signatures’ which are common to all their developments. There was a lot of discussion about European markets being a viable option with a multitude of investment and development opportunities in this sector.

Student wellbeing

The need for everyone involved in the design and development of student housing to consider student wellbeing and mental health, was raised regularly throughout the day.

This is a fast-moving sector with students expecting a higher standard of product and state of the art technology, with ethical, social, and community considerations of the development all likely to be high on their list of factors when considering accommodation offerings.

How Henry Riley will play its part

We will continue to liaise with developers, education providers, and student housing providers to help this sector realise its full potential, by bringing them together where their needs and aspirations align and using our experience of multi-party student housing schemes to shape future developments.

David Ayres, Partner

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