Positive Signs for PBSA Despite Covid
The pandemic has accelerated the development of digital platforms that will streamline how the Student Housing sector works.
“Digital literacy has been common within build-to-rent, but previously for student housing it was more of a nice-to-have than a necessity. Now it is becoming an imperative.”
Georgie Drewery, account executive, Yardi spoke to Property Week.
“The purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) market has been more affected than most by the current pandemic. While developers and operators are quite rightly cautious about the future, there are also some very positive signs in the market.
There is debate over the shape and structure of lectures and how they will continue, and whether studying will become purely digital. The number of international students who will continue with UK courses also remains uncertain; according to Universities UK, in the 2017-18 academic year, they accounted for 19.6% of students studying at UK higher education institutions.
But despite this uncertainty, there is still a sense of positivity in the market and a demand for innovation in student accommodation remains. Research from StuRents shows the PBSA market is growing despite Covid-19. Around 25,000 new student beds are being advertised for the 2020-21 academic year, and if all the predicted development comes to fruition, the PBSA sector will hit 700,000 beds for the first time.
Despite the global pandemic, development studies are very impressive. Of course some of these schemes have been delayed or postponed, but by contrast, one of our clients is aiming to deliver three schemes in the next four months, so progress is very varied depending on who you speak to.
So how are operators and providers coping with the uncertainty in the market? For the first time, they are having to be reactive, which is something they are not used to – they are used to having a plan.”