the future of student accommodation

Over the past 10 years, the provision of high-end student accommodation has boomed. However, post BREXIT the numbers of foreign students with the money to afford 5 star accommodation has fallen and developers must decide what to do with existing high-end projects and how to proceed with future ones…

Overseas students currently represent 1 in 5 of the student body in the UK and have been prepared to pay more than £160 per week for accommodation where concierge services, private gyms, pools and cinemas are considered standard. Post BREXIT, has seen the numbers of foreign students falling, with 41,000 fewer wanting to study in the UK this year. Developers face the prospect of empty accommodation or slashing rental fees.

Future projects will have to adapt to a rapidly changing market. The challenges differ across the regions. Like other areas, London still suffers from fundamental levels of undersupply, with The London Plan suggesting a need for up-to 31,000 additional bedspaces by 2025. In the capital, development has been impacted significantly by high land costs and competition from other uses forcing developers to acquire secondary stock to recycle, rather than build from scratch.

rpa:group have long been involved in repurposing buildings such as redundant office blocks, as well as refurbishing existing student accommodation schemes in response to the demand for elevated student living. We are now involved in addressing a more affordable future where cluster flats of 2 bedrooms and more are proving popular, creating a communal living opportunity rather than isolated studio “boxes” and breakout spaces that reflect the needs of modern students, such as raised seating and work stations with multiple power supplies to support their technology.

As the Huffington Post recently pointed out, when they surveyed students’ expectations; “ students just want good wifi, a large bedroom and a double bed. Even a dishwasher and a tumble dryer could not crack the top 5 student accommodation desires let alone the desire to have a porter service, a gym and a nightclub on the ground floor. ”

Clearly, higher end design will still have a place in some parts of the country but going forward, a more streamlined version also needs to be considered.

If you would like our help with your next student accommodation project, please contact us on 01784 256 579 or send an email to

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