International students fuel robust demand for PBSA

Steve Lumley·26 May 2021·4 min read
International students fuel robust demand for PBSA

The demand for purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) from international students means the sector is robust despite Covid, says one provider.

The news from Future Generation reveals that for the next academic year, 52.9% of their bookings have been made by international students.

That's less than at the beginning of the last academic year when 59.9% of bookings came from students overseas.

However, with the vital months of June, July and August approaching, the firm says that is when 30% of its total capacity is snapped up.

And with the expected loosening of international travel restrictions, there will be an extra boost from overseas students over the summer.

They are predicting that their occupancy levels from September will exceed 90% as the UK emerges from its pandemic lockdown.

The PBSA provider has more than 2,000 student beds available for the next academic year.

‘Demand from overseas students’

Future Generation's chairman, Andrew Southern, said: "When the pandemic blew up last year, demand from overseas students was the biggest question mark that was hanging over the student accommodation sector."

He added that the asset class is once again proving itself after a difficult year.

Mr Southern said: "Demand from international students has softened but has beaten expectations under the circumstances and it will draw level with past years when the academic year begins."

He says that with four months still to go before the academic year begins, there is still the important summer booking season to deliver.

Future Generation manages a PBSA portfolio of five developments in Sheffield, Colchester, Guildford, Loughborough and Nottingham.

The managing director of Accommodation for Students, Simon Thompson, said: "This is great news from Future Generation and illustrates that the PBSA sector is rebounding after a difficult year.

"All student landlords have struggled and worked to support their student tenants whenever possible, so it's good to hear that student accommodation demand is increasing for the next academic year."

Affordable housing may be funded by student property developers

Meanwhile, it has been revealed that one council is planning to make student property developers pay for affordable housing.

Nottingham city council says it has received 'unprecedented' numbers of planning applications from developers for purpose-built student accommodation.

Student numbers are rising in Nottingham which is home to two universities and 52,500 full-time students.

The move follows an extra 2,000 PBSA bed spaces being made available in the 2020/21 academic year.

The plans have already undergone public consultation with a view to improving the balance of housing types available in the city.

A spokeswoman for the council said there is a dire need for affordable housing and financial contributions from PBSA developers will help pay for affordable homes to meet demand.