The shortage of rental accommodation in some university towns is so great that up to 22 people are competing for every room to let.
That is the claim of online room rental service SpareRoom which says Oxford, Edinburgh, Leeds, Glasgow and Birmingham are the worst hit.
It claims four in 10 rooms in private shared flats and houses in the top 25 university towns are not available to students because of their costs.
Competition is at its most fierce in Edinburgh – where 22 people are hunting for every room available – and in Oxford, where it claims that up to the end of last week 100 students had no accommodation for the start of the college term and with 15 people searching for every room available.
The website also suggests a growing number of over 35s are staying in shared accommodation, rather than renting alone or buying their first homes - and this in turn is making it tougher for students to find accommodation.
Almost a third of sharers using SpareRoom are now over 35 and the number of flat sharers aged 45 or above has risen faster than younger age groups over the past five years.