According to Student Marketing, in the 30 most popular European student cities alone, there are 2,569 student residences with a total of 424,069 beds. What’s more, growth is not slowing down, there are 110,000 extra beds currently being planned or under development. With such huge investment, there also comes an increased need for industry knowledge. With this in mind, Ben Hall, Managing Director of Student Furniture, tells us about some of the upcoming trends in student accommodation, and how your company can prepare for them.
In the first six months of 2015, £3.8 billion was invested in the UK’s student property market. Which, if any, of continental Europe’s countries can expect to see such large-scale student accommodation investment?
Investment in student accommodation in the UK remains not only the highest in Europe, but in the world. To match its scale at this point in time would be near impossible. However, as networks like the Class of 2020 prove, there is massive potential in other European countries.
For example: in 2014, while Germany only experienced £190 million worth of investment in student housing, this was double that of the previous year. Similarly, with the growing number of domestic and foreign students, Spain for instance, has a high demand and undersupply of student accommodation, opening the door for big investment.
However, it’s the Netherlands who Savills has dubbed “one of Europe’s fastest maturing markets” in terms of student accommodation, and where investment interest is consistently high.
New legislation in the Netherlands changed state grants for students into loans in September 2015. Students are now more consumer-like and demand more high quality, affordable accommodation. This is the case for much of Europe.
It’s estimated that 50,000 new rooms will be needed in the Netherlands to fulfil demand of students over the next ten years. Indeed, recently there have been massive investment deals here involving International Campus and the Student Hotel.
Whilst no European country is yet on the scale of the UK, there is high potential for exponential growth and investment as the number of students, their consumer-like nature and demand for high quality, affordable housing increases dramatically over the next decade.
With all the potential across mainland Europe, Student Furniture is keen to put its experience and infrastructure to good use by assisting student accommodation providers, right across the continent, reach their full potential through creating first class, forward-thinking student accommodation for generations to come.
Naturally, this is the next step in Student Furniture realising its own vision of becoming a truly continental student furniture provider.
Estimates predict that by 2020, the European student population will have grown from 1.8 million in 2013 to 2.5 million. How can student property developers increase their chances of encouraging international students into their properties?
A blog post from the European Association for International Education says that amenities such as gyms and study spaces attract international students, but, what appeals above all, is the ability to arrive with just their suitcase of clothes and have everything else ready for them.
Indeed, international students demand “one-stop”, quality accommodation that’s purpose built.
Developers should, perhaps, be advised to partner with universities themselves and official groups like Unipol, who can then direct international students who need help finding accommodation to their properties.
Interior Design by Johnson Ribolla
A 2007 study on international students found that the biggest challenges they face are obtaining food and daily essentials, making friends and adapting to a new social life. Accommodation that alleviates the challenge of getting used to a new culture is very attractive to international students.
Often, students are very far from home, in an environment that is new to them. Meeting and interacting with new people might not come so easy to some but strategically designed, and placed furniture in well thought out spaces, can help increase interaction between students and ensure they make the most of their time at University from the very moment they arrive.
Student Furniture aims to help create spaces that are as inclusive and interactive as possible for students.
With so many PBSA developers on the market, what advice can you give to brands trying to stand out from their competitors?
There are three areas that offer a lot of room for innovation:
Firstly: flexibility and choice. This means including various room or apartment choices – everything from shared rooms, to individual rooms with shared kitchen, or completely self-contained studios.
Providers ought to understand that their accommodation can’t be “one size fits all”, and must adapt their designs to different students’ needs. A major part of this is also offering a wide range of extra amenities such as a gym, cinema room, information desk, or a shop or cafe for instance.
Secondly: the technological edge. Students demand accommodation that reflects the zeitgeist. For example, offering enough power sockets, charging points and access to high-speed wireless internet in all areas of the accommodation. Naturally, modern students are immediately attracted to forward-thinking and tech-savvy brands – in a recent study we found that students would actually rather have WiFi in their accommodation than hot water!
Thirdly: local know-how and practical information. Brands that help students enjoy the city/region in which they’re living, operating almost like a hostel, will give them a unique edge over other accommodation.
Creating a space that students want to spend time in, is key. The use of interiors – not only in creating this space – but also to help reinforce a company’s brand can help you to stand out from the crowd.
It’s an incredibly simple but effective idea which means – now more than ever – accommodation providers should reinforce their brand through trendy furniture, lighting and accessories.
What are the key areas to get right when developing student accommodation to meet the needs and priorities of modern-day students?
Student accommodation is not what it used to be; institutional-looking dorm rooms in shabby blocks where students just went to sleep. Things have changed (thankfully!). The key areas that developers must consider these days are on-site amenities, a quality environment and a good mix of communal and individual areas.
Given the outdated stereotype of students, you might think that the bedroom would be the most critical part to get right in student accommodation. But, actually, what requires incredibly strong focus is the amenity space – communal areas have a range of requirements to ensure that they actually function as they’re meant to.
Firstly: they need to need to have a high visual impact which works with the brand – It’s your chance to make a first impression and to make students want to come back and spend time there.
Secondly: the space is very often mixed-use to drive student engagement, so getting the balance is very important –
Student Furniture specialises in social and study spaces that encourage social interaction.
Find Student Furniture on LinkedIn and Twitter (@StudentFurn).