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Student Accommodation Trends

Peter Hemple reports on whether international demand will continue to drive student accommodation strategy in many UK cities

With almost 50,000 full-time students, Sheffield City Council recently approved a Student Accommodation Strategy which will focus on increasing the amount of purpose built housing available for international students.

There are currently 48,630 full-time students in Sheffield, but only 23% of them can be housed in university-owned accommodation. The rest either live with their parents or rent from the private sector, often in Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMO).  

Cabinet Member for Homes and Neighbourhoods, Councillor Harry Harpham, says: "Students are an important part of Sheffield's make up. Our universities are growing and our student population is changing."

Indeed the main change is the number of international students. According to its website, 24% of the University of Sheffield's total student population is from overseas, over 4,000 of them from China. A further 3,000 international students are found at Sheffield Hallam, almost half of them from Malaysia. These students reportedly like the additional features provided by purpose built student accommodation, such as being in a central location and having 24 hour security.

Spectrum Apartments is building a student development of 152 units in Sheffield. Peter McDermott, director at Go Global Investments, which is promoting the project, says: "In a story similar to most of the top UK University towns, even if all the housing projects undergoing development or awaiting planning consent in Sheffield were built, it would still leave almost 60% of its students living at home or in HMOs. Furthermore, international student demand is currently driven by a growing middle class in countries such as China, India, Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia and Nigeria."

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