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As The Hunt For Student Housing Intensifies, Where Are The Worst Shortages?

For students receiving their A-Level results last week, making sure that they have somewhere to live when the new university term starts will be a key priority.

Rising university applications have put pressure on rental markets in key student cities across the UK. After two years of a global pandemic, the appetite from domestic and international students to study in the UK remains strong. According to the latest data from HESA, 2020/21 saw the UK’s total full-time student population grow by 8% and 2021 was also a record year for UCAS applicants, reaching almost 750,000.

Of these, there were over 560,000 acceptances – the second-highest number of acceptances on record. This year is another bumper year for applications, with many students having deferred applying due to Covid restrictions on in-person teaching and socialising.

Now there are 2.2m full-time students in the UK and new research from Savills shows that there is an overlap between markets with lower levels of student housing supply and fewer homes available to rent.

In London, for example, there are almost a third fewer homes available to rent than the pre-pandemic average. With 3.5 full-time students for every bed in purpose-built housing, any increase in student numbers will put greater pressure on the wider rental market.

But this is not just an issue in major cities – the same is true in small student towns. Reading may only have 15,000 full-time students, but even so the city only has enough purpose-built accommodation to house half of its university student population. Before the arrival of new students, rental stock in the city is already under pressure, with 25% fewer properties available compared with before the pandemic.

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