£23 Million Edinburgh Site Complete

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Work has finished on a major student accommodation development in Edinburgh.

The £23 million development known as Haddington Place provides accommodation for 240 students and was formerly part of Edinburgh's original Botanic Gardens.

The scheme was developed by S Harrison and funded by M&G Real Estates and includes facilities such as a gym, study areas, cycle storage, and cinema lounge. In addition to the student housing, the scheme also provides three retail units on the ground floor, covering a total of 6,500 square feet.

David Clancy from S Harrison said: "Haddington Place is specifically designed to offer students a contemporary home with a superb level of specification in terms of design, facilities, and furnishings. The development is in a great location, just a mile from the University of Edinburgh's main campus, it's close to the popular Broughton Street area, and surrounded by shops, cafes and bars."

According to the developers more than 200 students reserved their places prior to work being complete.

Commenting on the development Dermot Kiernan on behalf of M&G Real Estate said: "Aside from the obvious supply/demand fundamentals, the defensive aspects of student accommodation as a property portfolio diversifier and its alternative use value as residential are also compelling."


Children from the South-east Much More Likely to Attend a Top University

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Those attending school in the south-east are 57% more likely to attend a university ranked among the top third compared to their equivalent counterparts in the north.

The year-long investigation into why those from the north get left behind was launched by the children's commissioner for England, with Anne Longfield describing the under-performance of secondary schools in the north of England as a huge concern.

Longfield said: "We see that children start well but a gap emerges while they are at secondary school. That, coupled with the paucity of job prospects in some areas, seem to combine to really open up a gap that many children can't get beyond".

Of the 20-worst performing local authorities in England for GCSE results, 12 are in the north, while just one northern council area makes the top 20, namely Trafford in Greater Manchester.

Longfield suggested the poor performance had a direct impact on further education opportunities, with school leavers in London and the south-east at least 57% more likely to go to a top-third university.

The north-south divide was also a concern of the outgoing chief inspector of schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw, who suggested there was a troubling gap between the performance of secondary schools in the north and Midlands and secondary schools in the rest of the country.


Union Calls for Complete Overhaul of University Application Process

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A new study undertaken by the University and College Union has found that only 16% of university applicants achieve the grades their teachers predicted.

As a result of the findings, university workers are calling for an overhaul of the UK higher education application system.

The research studied the results of 1.3 million students over a three-year period and found the majority of students applying to university are predicted better results than they actually achieve. In particular, the study found just 16% of applicants' grades were predicted correctly, while three quarters were over-predicted and 9% under-predicted.

Under the current application process, most students apply to university based on their predicted grades, which leads to uncertainty for both students and institutions when results differ from predictions.

Due to the variance between predicted and actual grades, UCU is calling for a new admission system where students apply after they have received their results, which it's argued would create greater certainty for both student and institution. The union also argued it would remove the growing use of unconditional offers, which it described as being unethical.

The research also found that students from disadvantaged backgrounds were the most likely to be underestimated, which in turn leads them to apply to lower tariff institutions for which they were overqualified.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said of the findings: "The results strongly support our call for a complete overhaul of the system, where students apply after they receive their results. It is quite absurd that the UK is the only country that persists in using such a broken system."


New Plans Revealed for Art Deco Cinema in Plymouth

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Plans to demolish Plymouth's 1930s Reel Cinema and replace it with student accommodation have resurfaced and are due to be presented to the public on December 13.

The exhibition relating to a forthcoming planning application will be held at Plymouth Guildhall with representatives available on the day to answer any questions in regards to the proposals.

This represents the second time a public exhibition has been announced in 2016 in regards to plans to demolish the art deco cinema block.

In October plans were released which described the development of the site and the construction of a hotel, commercial units and student accommodation. However, the exhibition, scheduled to take place at Plymouth Theatre Royal was cancelled at the last moment.

Although the developers behind the latest proposals remain unknown, more than 1,000 people have signed a petition urging the council to protect the cinema from destruction.

The cinema has a colourful past with The Beatles famously playing at the venue in 1963 and subsequently coming under repeated threat of demolition.


Government Insists There Is No Cap on International Student Numbers

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According to higher education spokesman Viscount Younger of Leckie, there is no intention on limiting the number of foreign students attending UK universities and as a result there is no cap on the number of genuine international students coming to the UK to study.

Lord Younger added that the administration wanted the country's leading institutions to continue to attract the best talent.

The comment was made to clear up the potential area of confusion during the second reading debate in the House of Lords on the Higher Education and Research Bill, during which several peers raised their concerns over the inclusion of students within government's targets to cut immigration.

Members in the Lords also called for international students to be separated from the Office for National Statistics net migration figures.

The exclusion of international students from immigration figures is backed by both Boris Johnson and Chancellor Philip Hammond.

Commenting on the matter Lord Younger said: "We understand and value very much the contribution that international students, staff and researchers make to our HE sector.

"Let me be clear on another potential area of confusion. There is no cap on how many genuine international students can come to study here and we have no intention of limiting how many genuine students can come here to study.

"We want our top universities to continue to attract the best students."


Edinburgh Students Vote for Google Nap Pods

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Students at Edinburgh University have overwhelmingly voted in favour of installing "nap pods" in their main library.

A common site in Google offices, students at Edinburgh University have voted in favour of the pods being installed in the main library as a way of raising student satisfaction.

A student-led think tank wrote a 30-page report on why the pods were needed, ahead of a vote by the student body. More than 1,900 students voted on the topic, with 84% voting in favour.

Following the outcome of the vote, student leaders will now submit a formal request for the installation of the pods to university management.

A similar vote was balloted at Manchester University last year, which also resulted in nap pods being installed in its own library.

Despite strong support from most of the student body, some are not so keen, calling for the money to be spent elsewhere. Each pod costs up to £10,000, which will need to be added to the cost of converting the rooms.

Questioned on whether they would consider the students' proposals, a spokeswoman for Edinburgh University said: "The University of Edinburgh is always open to discussions with its students on a wide range of initiatives to help improve the student experience."


Oxford Site Set for Approval Despite Housing Stock Review

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Plans to further expand a recently approved student accommodation block for Oxford Brookes University is set to go before Oxford City Council's East Area planning committee this week.

Situated in Cowley, the university was granted permission to transform an historic site at Canterbury House, Reliance Way, into student housing last month. It's now understood that plans to increase the accommodation by a further 30 student beds will go before the planning committee.

Even though figures suggest the number of students living in the community are well above agreed targets, resulting in the university pledging to review its housing stock, officers have recommended the proposal gets the go ahead.

Currently the university has 3,800 students living in the community despite its own cap of just 3,000.

However, justifying their decision, officers said the development was both sustainable and appropriate saying: "It preserves the special character and appearance of Canterbury House which is a non-designated heritage asset and the street scene. There would be no harm to adjoining neighbours."

According to the architects behind the plans, the development will make more efficient use of the previously developed site, thereby bringing into use three buildings and a brownfield site which are currently vacant.

Oxford City Council will decide on the outcome of the application at the Town Hall meeting being held this Wednesday.


Bath Student Development Put Forward

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A planning application has been submitted to develop the site of Pickfords on Lower Bristol Road, into purpose-built student accommodation.

The plans, submitted by Eagle One Estates to Bath and North East Somerset Council, call for the demolition of the existing Pickfords building, which will be replaced by a two-storey student block able to accommodate up to 204 bedrooms.

Situated on 34-35 Lower Bristol Road, residents have been invited to comment on the proposed development via an online form on the council website. The public consultation is due to close on December 19, at which point the Development Management Committee will consider the application.

A final decision is expected no later than February 9 next year.

So far objections from local residents include the argument there is enough student accommodation in Bath already, and the proposed development would negatively impact traffic flow in the area.


279-bed Leicester Development Finally Approved

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Code Student Accommodation has finally won its battle with Leicester City Council to build a block of student flats overlooking Bede Park.

Initially the council refused permission to develop a block of 279 student flats as part of a multi-million-pound extension to its existing student accommodation development in Western Road.

Subsequently Code Student Accommodation appealed against the decision, which resulted in a Government planning inspector overturning the ruling.

A large number of local residents had originally objected to the scheme, located next to the Western pub and the Old River Soar. At the time council officers argued that adding a substantial amount of new flats would impact the surrounding area, which is already densely populated with student residences.

Code disputed the figures on student numbers in the ward used by the council to make its objection, and the planning inspector backed the developer. As a result of the ruling on November 28, Code Student Accommodation have now recommenced work on the site.

Despite the positive outcome for Code, property director Rick Moore said: "We don't feel triumphalist as we have incurred around £250,000 in legal fees and considerable delay to the regeneration of this part of the waterside."

Code's managing director, Jamie Lewis, had asked for the council to pay the company's legal costs following the outcome, but the application was dismissed.

The developers argued that high quality purpose-built student accommodation has far less of an impact on the local community than students living in terraced houses dispersed among many streets with no on-site management or security.


Coventry Universities to Spend £179m on New Accommodation

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Both of Coventry's universities have pledged to invest a combined £179 million to develop accommodation for thousands of students as numbers increase in the city.

The University of Warwick is set to invest £90m in student accommodation over the next four years, while Coventry University will spend £89m over the same period.

The decision to invest heavily in student accommodation has been taken to keep up with the rapid growth in student numbers expected in the city.

Reports suggest there are already 50,000 students based in the city, and rising, but only 4,000 purpose built rooms.

Head of communications for the University of Warwick, Peter Dunn, said: "We have no significant plans for expansion of our student numbers, however we do plan to accommodate for any overshoots in student recruitment due to our popularity, at a rate of around 200 or so students a year.

"We are spending £90m on new campus accommodation and the first 267 places will be ready by October 2017".

Mr Dunn indicated the university has 6,529 students on campus out of 24,000 enrolled on courses.

A similar stance has been taken by Coventry University, which is also looking to increase its student accommodation provision. Work is already underway at the Bishop Gate development, which will provide beds for more than 1,800 students once complete.