What students really want from their accommodation

Steve Lumley·3 October 2022·5 min read
What students really want from their accommodation

It might come as a surprise to critics and former students who may not have fond memories of their digs, but student accommodation has been rated highly by the current crop of undergraduates.

The research carried out by Paragon Bank found that more than three-quarters (78%) of students said that the quality of their student accommodation was either ‘good’ or ‘excellent’.

That should put to bed the image created by the programmes like ‘The Young Ones’ about living in student accommodation squalor.

When asked about the location of their student home, 84% said it was good to excellent, with 83% of students being impressed with their bedroom and other room sizes - 83% and 82% respectively.

Number one priority for students who are renting

However, the number one priority for students who are renting is affordable rent for 42% of respondents.

Other important features that students want from a property, according to the bank’s ‘Student Buy to Let Report 2022’ include having good Wi-Fi and being close to their university campus – for 27% of students.

The other features that students look for in their accommodation include room size - for 25% of respondents – and rent with bills included, for 18%. Being close to public transport links was a big attraction for 15% of students.

The survey also questioned students about their thoughts on how good their landlord was.

54% of students held a positive view of their landlord

It should come as no surprise that 54% of students held a positive view of their landlord - that figure consists of 16% of students being ‘very positive’, and 38% being ‘positive’.

One in five, or 21%, of students were indifferent and said their view of the landlord was neither negative nor positive.

Paragon Bank’s mortgages managing director, Richard Rowntree, said: “Student accommodation used to be associated with being poor quality, but undergraduates today are more demanding, particularly as landlords are competing against private institutional providers.

“Landlords are taking extra steps in attracting students, such as installing en-suites, good quality furnishings and strong Wi-Fi.”

Mr Rowntree points to HESA data that shows student numbers in the UK have grown consistently since the 1990s and that their preferred choice of accommodation while studying is privately rented homes.

‘Encouraging to see students viewing landlords positively overall’

He added: “It’s encouraging to see students viewing landlords positively overall and the high level of satisfaction in homes provided by landlords to students will be a significant factor.”

The managing director of Accommodation for Students, Simon Thompson, said: “Despite the negative reputation that student landlords have, there’s no doubt that lots of students enjoy their time living in accommodation provided by their private landlord.

“The survey from Paragon Bank also underlines what we have been highlighting and that is quality landlords offering quality accommodation will enjoy a strong business and develop a great reputation as a result.”

Students without accommodation are told ‘Stay home’

Meanwhile, it has been revealed that hundreds of students who have not found accommodation in one city because there are not enough rental properties available have been told to defer or leave their course.

That’s the situation for hundreds of students heading to the University of Glasgow this semester with the BBC reporting that if they have nowhere to live, they have been told to ditch their studies.

The university has already warned first-year students who live in the city that they will need to live at home because there are not enough beds for first years in university-providing halls.

The university says that the demand for rental property is ‘ahead of expectations’ and there’s been a big drop in the number of private rental flats available in the city – while tenant demand is growing.

Students struggling to find somewhere to live

Also, NUS Scotland says that students in other parts of Scotland are struggling to find somewhere to live, including in St Andrews and Edinburgh.

Now landlords are warning that the accommodation crisis in Scotland may get worse, and not just for students.

That’s because the Scottish government has unveiled a rent freeze and an evictions ban that will run until March 2023.

This has led the Scottish Association of Landlords to announce that it may take legal action when the legislation is published, and it warns that growing numbers of landlords are selling their rental properties and letting agents across the country are inundated with enquiries from potential renters.