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Brexit and tuition fees hurting student housing sector, warns agency

A specialist student lettings agency says the drop in the number of applicants for UK higher education courses this year threatens to turn the shortage of student accommodation into a surplus.

StudentTenant.com says that despite university terms starting in less than two months from now, landlords are still trying to secure student tenants in a number of key university areas. 

Demand for student properties in Exeter is just 62 per cent, it says, followed by Reading and Bath with demand of only 52 per cent. 

Overall, the number of people applying for UK higher education courses in 2017 has fallen by more than 25,000 - equivalent to four per cent - compared to last year. 

This follows the announcement that university fees will increase from £9,000 to £9,250 this year, and student loan interest rates will be increasing by 1.5 per cent, from the current 4.6 per cent to 6.1 per cent this autumn. 

StudentTenant.com insists that its research has shown what it calls “a drastic shift from an undersupply in previous months.” 

Furthermore, following the Brexit vote last year, the number of EU students planning to study in the UK has also fallen by five per cent from 51,850 to 49,250. 

Danielle Cullen, managing director at StudentTenant, says: “Landlords are starting to feel the strain of finding tenants for the next academic year, as many still have rooms left to let. I personally feel the blame sits firmly on decisions made by our government.

“We’re now seeing supply for student properties outgrowing demand in some areas, which could spell a huge problem for the student lettings market and the future of private student landlords. 

“Whilst the fees and interest are having an impact on British applications, it seems that post-Brexit, some EU students don’t want to study in the UK. A year on, there’s still uncertainty for EU students. Naturally, they’re worried about how it could affect them and they’re not applying to our higher educational system as a result.” 

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