Publication of The Times’ Higher Education Student Experience survey underlines students want more from their time at uni – including their accommodation.
It’s generally said that, for many students, going to university will provide them with a lifetime of memories, as well as the keys to their future career.
When it comes to choosing a place to study, the Times Good University Guide, published each year, is often the first port of call for those looking to compare universities based on their overall academic credentials. But is another survey published by a magazine supplement of the same newspaper that highlights the emphasis students place on the overall experience of attending university that their choice of institution will provide them even more important?
The complete student experience
Last week saw the publication of the Times Higher Education Student Experience survey. Students at the UK’s major universities were asked to rate them in 21 different areas that, combined together, can help deliver a great student experience. The University of Bath came out top overall, with the University of Sheffield, the University of Exeter and Newcastle University all in the top 10.
Some of the areas surveyed included the sense of community that universities help to build and the availability of high-quality facilities, with both Exeter and Sheffield scoring well. Other important factors include the access to cheap shops, bars and amenities, where high performers include Northumbria University and the University of Strathclyde, one of Glasgow’s six higher education institutions.
It makes sense that students want more from their university than just a good academic record. Let’s face it, if they plan on studying (and living) somewhere for a minimum of three years, they will want to be somewhere that makes their stay an enjoyable and stress-free experience.
This is something that has also been driven in recent years by the influx of international students to Britain. The number of overseas students coming to the UK has grown by 100% in the last 10 years. For these students, studying somewhere that makes them feel comfortable in a foreign destination is even more important.
How quality PBSA can help to deliver this
A great proportion of the 21 assessment criteria in the student experience survey can be greatly assisted by high-quality accommodation.
From a location that allows them to quickly access local amenities, to facilities that will make them feel completely comfortable and secure in their new home city, there has never been a greater demand for outstanding PBSAs that help fulfil a rich and full student life.
Gone are the days in which students will begrudgingly settle for the kind of run-down, poorly maintained home of multiple occupancy reminiscent of the one the cast of 80’s sitcom The Young Ones frequented. As part of the desire for a rich student experience, there is now a significant demand for modern, PBSA developments with the highest quality fixtures and fittings that are designed to build a great sense of community. What’s more, students are willing to pay a premium for it, up to 70% in some cases.
In addition, that exponential increase in the number of international students has fuelled the need for a recognisable student accommodation brand; Knight Frank identified this as the next big opportunity in the student accommodation investment market. Why? Because it can provide overseas students with a familiar touch point and an assurance over the quality of the service they’ll receive as they begin to adjust to life in a new and often strange city.
If student property investment is to continue to outperform all other asset classes, it must take heed of market sentiment and cater for a student/customer base that believes experience is a vital component of university life.