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Student Lets: Question mark over value for money of purpose-built flats

A huge survey of students, seeking their views on accommodation, has ended with a question mark over the value for money of some purpose-built accommodation.

The survey questioned no fewer than 60,000 students between February and November last year, and was conducted on behalf of high end letting agency and property consultancy Knight Frank, in coordination with admissions body UCAS.

This was the largest survey of its kind in the UK.


The key findings are:

- The single most important factor influencing the choice students make about where they live is value for money. Some 98 per cent of respondents rated this as being important to them, with just under half rating it as “extremely important”;

- With regard to purpose built student accommodation (PBSA) brand recognition was a key influence with 40 per cent of new first year students living in private PBSA saying it was a factor in their decision of where to live;

- Some 78 per cent of students living in PBSA were satisfied with their accommodation and 75 per cent of students living in private PBSA would recommend their accommodation to new first years. But Knight Frank adds: “There are challenges, however. The most commonly cited reason for dissatisfaction among students living in privately operated PBSA related to it not being value for money”;

- On average students living in private PBSA are paying £7,990 per annum for their accommodation. This is a premium of six per cent on the £7,550 average for those living in university-operated accommodation and 30 per cent on the £6,130 for students living in privately rented house shares; 

- Regardless of the type of accommodation they were living in, most students (82 per cent) indicated that their accommodation costs were either affordable or just about affordable;

- 68 per cent of students identified affordable living costs as being ‘very important’ with regards their overall wellbeing, whilst the standard of accommodation was also identified as a key factor, with 82 per cent identifying it as either “important” or “very important”;

- Some 43 per cent of international students said that the option to stay in the same accommodation for more than one year was “extremely important” or “very important” when deciding where to live.

“Affordability is, once again, the number one issue facing students, whilst value for money is the most important factor influencing decisions on where to live. For investors and operators of PBSA this means delivering the highest quality accommodation possible within the constraints of viability. Operators must be quick to identify and prioritise the elements in accommodation that are most important to students” says James Pullan, global head of student property at Knight Frank. 

“The role that student accommodation plays in supporting wellbeing, is also reinforced, with the survey highlighting the importance that students place on the quality and usability of the social and amenity space provided. This must be an essential feature of all new PBSA.” 

Poll: Are Purpose-Built Student flats worth a 30% premium over shared houses?



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