Student Housing Planned for Bangor High Street

Posted by Richard Ward in

A planning application has been submitted to Gwynedd County Council to transform the former Debenhams store on Bangor High Street.

The application was submitted by John Sutton and it's hoped the scheme will boost the city centres economy.

Included in the plans are designs to install a new shop front and a single storey extension on the rear of the building to provide space for two new shops, and purpose-built accommodation for up to 49 students.

Plans had previously been submitted to turn Castle Hill Arcade into student flats, but were rejected by Gwynedd County Council amid concerns from locals about the volume of student housing that already exists in Bangor.

Bangor City Council have warned against the adverse impact to nearby listed buildings, if the development goes ahead.

Commenting on the planning application, consultants Cadnant Planning Ltd, said: "Not only will the proposed development be of benefit to individuals moving into the accommodation but also, it will have the added positive impact of freeing up the current private housing stock for families and younger couples."

It was also argued that young people are moving out of areas such as Gwynedd due to a shortage of housing. The development will therefore go some way in addressing this issue, while also providing economic benefits to local trade.

Tuition Fees Increases Approved by Parliament

Posted by Richard Ward in , ,

Legislation allowing universities to increase tuition fees has been pushed through parliament ahead of its dissolution in the run up to the general election.

The higher education legislation had been intended to make higher fees dependent on improved teaching. However, this will not come into force until 2020-21 and up until then universities can increase fees in-line with inflation, without a link to teaching quality.

As a result, students will face fees of £9,250 a year at almost all universities. This is on top of sudden increase in interest rates that student loans are subject to, which have increased from 4.6% to 6.1%.

The Higher Education and Research Bill faced a large number of amendments in the House of Lords, but after a number of compromises the legislation was passed prior to Parliament shutting down.

Although a framework to link teaching quality to tuition fees will be introduced, in won't be for at least three years. In the meantime, universities signed up to be part of the plans to measure teaching quality are free to increase fees in line with inflation.

An independent review of the proposed teaching excellence framework will begin in 2018, with the aim to introduce annual increases in line with teaching quality from 2020-21.

Universities have also argued for overseas students to be omitted from migration targets, although so far, this proposal has been rejected.

Universities are hopefully that the status of overseas students could be reconsidered as part of wider reviews of migration during the Brexit negotiations.

Britain’s Richest International Students Revealed

Posted by Ross Jones-Morris

Richest Students: An analysis of hundreds of thousands of accommodation searches across 95 towns and cities in Britain has revealed which country's students are the richest.

Big-Spending Chinese Students: The research shows Chinese students studying in Britain have the highest budgets of students from any country, with the average student willing to spend £180 on accommodation per week.

The Top Spenders: Behind China, the biggest weekly accommodation budgets come from Kazakhstan (£170), Uruguay (£170), Japan (£165) and Lebanon (£165).

The Most Frugal: The world's lowest spenders come from Croatia (£95), Vietnam (£100), Poland (£100), Lithuania (£100) and the Czech Republic (£100).

Where the UK Stands: Understandably, students who elect to go to university in their own country have lower budgets, with British students having less to spend on accommodation, on average, than their foreign counterparts.

For most students money is tight during their time at university, and once basic living costs are paid for the month, there can be precious little left over for anything else. But for domestic students their tuition fees of up to £9,250 a year are at least covered for the duration of study.

International students on the other hand have to contend with both the cost of living and the cost of paying tuition fees of up to £35,000 per year.

Despite this, new research from StuRents has shown that not only do international students pay much more on tuition fees, they are willing to pay much more on living as well, with the accommodation budgets[1] of international students from many countries far outweighing those of their domestic counterparts.

Big Spending Chinese Students

The research shows that students from China are the richest, with an average budget of £180 per week for accommodation. This outweighs the average British student's weekly budget of £115 by a whopping 57%.

The Top Spenders

Richest Students

Following up China in the top five spenders are Kazakhstan (with a budget of £170 per week), Uruguay (£170), Japan (£165) and Lebanon (£165).

The Most Frugal

Poorest Students

Whilst the research shows the blowout budgets of a section of the student population, it also reveals that there are of course students (like most of us Brits) who have to keep a tighter hold on the purse strings.

The most money-conscious students in the research come from Croatia, with the average student budgeting £95 per week on accommodation. The bottom five is then rounded out by students from Vietnam (£100 per week) and then by students from three eastern European countries - Poland, Lithuania and the Czech Republic (£100 per week).

Where the UK Stands

Poorest Students

Understandably, international students, who choose to fly overseas for their education tend to have more money to hand than British students who have opted to study in the relatively local confines of the UK.

European students who hop the relatively short distance across to us only have slightly higher budgets however, with £120 per week to spend on accommodation.

Farther flung students though, from the US & Canada for example, have 17% more to spend than British students with average weekly budgets of £135. And, as mentioned, Chinese students have 57% more to play with than domestic students.

Tom Walker, Co-Founder of comments:

"An interesting, if not surprising outcome of this analysis is that Chinese students - of which there are over 90,000 in the UK's higher education system - are extremely lucrative tenants and are therefore clearly a strong motivating factor for the unrelenting investment in the UK's PBSA sector. But that isn't the end of the story; there's clearly an appetite for international-friendly accommodation at more affordable price-points, particularly from Eastern European students. However, given the hype around growing Chinese student numbers, it is easy to see how this opportunity might have been overlooked."

The Full Rankings

Poorest Students

Notes for Editors

[1] Budgets based on hundreds of thousands of student accommodation searches carried out on between April 2016 and March 2017. The average accommodation budget for any given country was calculated by finding the median search value.

National Union of Students Appoint New President

Posted by Richard Ward in ,

The National Union of Students have elected a new head after Malia Bouattia was overthrown.

Describing herself as a "mother from a working-class family", Shakira Martin received 56% of the votes at the NUS conference in Brighton.

Previously working as vice-president, she will take over the role of Malia Bouattia who was elected in 2016. Ms Bouattia came under pressure after an article she co-wrote in 2011 described Birmingham university as a "Zionist outpost".

Ms Martin is a former student at Lewisham and Southwark College and has promised a union which is "united and fighting for free education for everyone".

Commenting on her appointment, she said: "I am honoured and humbled to have been elected as NUS national president.

"I take this as a vote of trust that our members believe I can lead our national movement to be the fighting and campaigning organisation we need it to be, representing the breadth of our diverse membership.

"Further education made me who I am today and I look forward to sharing stories of just how powerful all forms of education can be when we're all given access to it.

"During my term in office I want to spend my time listening, learning and leading."

Past NUS presidents include Jack Straw, Charles Clarke, Liam Burns and Trevor Phillips and its long been believed the role suits those seeking political office.

Ms Martin beat the former president by 402 votes to 272.

Vita Student Plans 374-bed Cardiff Scheme

Posted by Richard Ward in

A public consultation is being held over plans to construct a 17-storey student accommodation block in central Cardiff.

The proposals have been put forward the accommodation provider by Vita Student, who bought the site located at Bradley Court on Park Place in January.

The new purpose-built student accommodation would consist of 374 apartments, as well as facilities such as a cinema and games room, gym, private dining area and study spaces.

The scheme also includes improvements to public spaces and it's hoped the development will help rejuvenate the area.

According to Vita Student, the development will provide significant improvements to the areas surrounding the site and around the Dock Feeder by the New Theatre, which the company is seeking feedback on.

To help the company in its application process and to ensure plans are supported by locals, Vita Student is undertaking a period of public consultation.

A company spokesperson said of the plans: "We are excited to bring Vita Student brand to Cardiff, and want our proposed development to bring with it wider benefits to the local community.

"Our initial thoughts seek to build market-leading student accommodation on a disused and dilapidated site using award winning architects Feilden Clegg Studios who have produced a design that we feel is befitting of this important gateway location."

The site sits in a desirable location, as it's within walking distance of Cardiff city centre, Cardiff University and Cardiff Central railway station. It's also located close to several Cardiff University buildings, including the Student Union which is just 500 metres up Park Place.

More Student Beds Earmarked for Liverpool

Posted by Richard Ward in

More student accommodation in Liverpool could be on the way with plans being submitted to transform a garage workshop into a 10-storey student block.

Located in the Baltic Triangle, the existing building fronts Norfolk Street and Watkinson Street and would be demolished to make way for the student accommodation, which would come equipped with 171 beds.

Included in the plans is space for two commercial units on the ground floor, a gym, social spaces and a concierge service operating front of house.

Under the design of the development, the new building would be "sympathetic" to other structures in the area, with industrial elements being incorporated into its facade.

A statement submitted to Liverpool City Council, said: "The design of the building is very much in keeping with the character of the area with the facades being predominantly red brick with industrial style anthracite grey windows.

"The facades overlooking Norfolk Street and Watkinson Street are the almost identical design since most of the apartment units are based in those two ends of the building. The substation on Norfolk Street is to be incorporated into the main elevation."

If given the green light the existing substation would remain while the rest of the structure, including a disused workshop, would be flattened.

New Hereford University to Provide College Accommodation

Posted by Richard Ward in ,

Purpose-built colleges will provide accommodation for students attending Hereford's new university, due to open in September 2019.

The New Model in Technology & Engineering (NMiTE) is due to welcome its first batch of 300 students at its city centre campus in Hereford in September 2019.

The scheme recently received £8 million in funding from the government and leaders are secure in the knowledge that additional funding is coming.

Students attending the new university will be required to live in colleges for the entirety of their course, rather than renting from the private housing sector.

Commenting on the accommodation, Karen Usher, co-project leader, said: "All will be purpose-built at this point to ensure that they will meet the standards of students and their parents.

"There are one or two existing buildings that could possibly house accommodation, but we are looking to build in colleges of 350 beds, so there are not many buildings that are big enough to convert."

The decision to build their own purpose-built accommodation was based on the limited rental space in the Hereford city area. It's also believed parents prefer university provided housing, as it's easier to find, monitor and is usually safer.

With an already crowded rental market in the area, Karen did suggest they would welcome approaches from anyone interested in investing approved NMiTE student accommodation.

Mass Exodus of Staff Threatens UK Universities

Posted by Richard Ward in , ,

The government is being urged to act quickly or risk a post-Brexit brain drain, which could detrimentally impact the international competitiveness of the UK's university sector.

A new report by the Commons education committee calls for the working rights of 32,000 university staff from EU countries to be guaranteed as a matter of urgency.

The report suggests government should be willing to unilaterally agree the rights of EU nationals in the UK before the end of the year, even without a reciprocal deal in place.

Without such a guarantee, there are concerns they may be a mass exodus of talented EU staff leaving the UK for competitor countries.

Initiating the report, Neil Carmichael, the Conservative chairman of the committee, said: "Higher education in the UK is a world leader, but Brexit risks damaging our international competitiveness and the long-term success of our universities."

Published on Tuesday, the report highlights a survey undertaken by the University and College Union (UCU), which indicated 76% of European academics in UK universities said they were more likely to consider leaving the sector because of the referendum.

A separate poll found 53% of non-UK nationals were actively seeking to leave the UK altogether, whilst reports suggest staff from the EU were rejecting job offers due to the uncertainty about Brexit.

In addition to guaranteeing EU workers' rights, the report calls for overseas students to be removed from net migration targets and reform of the immigration system to promote movement to and from UK higher-education.

They've also urged the government to ensure funding for research associated with EU's Horizon 2020 project is matched, in case access to the scheme and other frameworks stops.

Commenting on the report, Sally Hunt, the UCU general secretary, said: "Along with international students, overseas staff make a huge contribution to UK society and I call on the government to end their uncertainty or risk damaging the UK's ability to attract staff and students from around the world."

Work Begins on 222-bed Aberdeen Scheme

Posted by Richard Ward in

Work is underway on a new student accommodation development in Aberdeen that will result in the construction of 222 beds.

The £16 million development will be located on the former McConechy's Garage, situated on the corner of Willowbank Road and Hardgate and will accommodate students from Robert Gordon University and the University of Aberdeen.

Planning permission was granted last year and will be delivered by Carlisle based Northern Developments.

The site will benefit from good public transport links and its proximity to the city centre.

Commercial manager for Northern Developments, Eddie Ward, said of the scheme: "We are very pleased to have started work on the Willowbank Road site and look forward to delivering this exciting development.

"It will meet the demands of modern student living in every aspect and will be very appealing to the millennial generation who quite rightly expect high standards and the latest technology to suit their technological and educational needs."

The Aberdeen based sub-contractor Andrew Cowie Ltd has now started ground works on the site, with the project expected to be complete in time for the start of the 2018 academic year.

Decision Expected This Week on Major Accommodation Scheme in Exeter

Posted by Richard Ward in ,

A decision on the University of Exeter's major student accommodation park will be given this week.

Plans to build student housing for University of Exeter students were recommended for approval by planning officers, but only after the scheme was deferred in February to allow for a planning revision.

Following the plans alterations, the University say the site will now contain a minimum of 1,200 student beds in buildings, which are 11 percent smaller and situated further away from residents.

Three of the tower blocks have been reduced in height, making them all three storeys tall, and two additional blocks have been entirely removed from the plans.

The amendments ensure the green space on the proposed site is now 73 percent larger than originally planned.

Despite the changes and the project being scaled back, the application saw a huge number of objections being submitted. In total 408 separate objections were raised, with members of the public still not satisfied with the revision.

Commenting on application Deputy Lord Mayor, Cllr Peter Hollland, said: "I was frustrated the meeting was so restricted and invitation only. I feel residents have been let down.

"I was also frustrated that at the previous planning meeting in which it was considered, the plans were 30 seconds away from being declined but for the intervention of Cllr's Phil Bialyk and Peter Edwards who proposed the decision be deferred instead."

It's understood residents had asked for a 40 percent reduction in scale of the site, with the university only providing a 11 percent reduction in their revised plans.

Although Mr Holland agreed the additional purpose-built student beds would ease the pressure on houses of multiple occupancy, there are concerns over what will happen when these students move out of university halls in years two and three.

If approved the new accommodation is scheduled for completion by September 2021.