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Predicts a rise in student numbers for the next academic year will create a "scramble" for acccomodation
Young people heading for university this autumn are facing a student digs
crisis thanks to a chronic shortage of suitable university accommodation and
George Osborne’s decision to abolish the cap on student
In the last academic year (2014-15) there were around 1.69
million full-time students in the UK. And in the coming year that figure is set
to increase by at least 35,000 thanks to the lifting of restrictions on the
number of students universities can accept.
Yet research conducted for The Independent by the
property agent JLL suggests that the number of available student beds is only
likely to increase by 10,000, leaving tens of thousands of students being forced
into the expensive private rental market.
“An extra jump in student numbers will trigger a bigger than
normal scramble for student accommodation. This will undoubtedly see those who
miss out forced to look for any residential property in the private sector,”
said Philip Hillman, student housing director at JLL. “As a result, they could
be paying much larger rents than their peers, be forced to live far away from
campus and miss out on the whole student experience of living with fellow
Shelly Asquith of the National Union of Students said the
failure of universities to build more residences and the refusal of governments
to cap private rents was “condemning students to deeper levels of debt”.
Some private property firms are ploughing cash in to the
student accommodation sector to capitalise on the burgeoning demand for student
digs. In the first five months of this year, a record £4.2bn was spent on
student housing blocks or land on which to build them, according to the property
agent Savills. Nevertheless, JLL estimates that total beds across the UK in
2015-16 will only reach 545,000, up from 535,000 last year. That gives a ratio
of students to available beds of 3.2, up from 3.1 the previous year.
In some parts of the country that ratio is still higher. In
London the ratio was around 3.4 in 2013-14. In the East of England it was 4.1
and in Northern Ireland 5.9.
A record 409,000 students have accepted university places this
autumn, and with Mark Allan, the chief executive of the student housing
developer Unite, predicting an extra 100,000 people a year studying in the UK by
2018, the undersupply of digs is expected to get even worse.
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