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York University Chief Calls for More Student Housing

Posted by Calum Martin in ,

Image courtesy of Flickr, Creative Commons

According to its vice-chancellor, the University of York is going to need more student accommodation in the coming years to meet demand in the city.

Professor Charlie Jeffrey commented during a Local Plan examination hearing that a "very significant shift in student housing preferences" was causing more students to search for managed accommodation blocks. This comes as debates continue in the city council regarding the space being granted to purpose-built student accommodation.

Professor Jeffrey said the University of York had seen significant growth in demand for places from both international and domestic students since 2018.

Figures published by HESA show that between 2018 and 2020, full-time student numbers at the institution have risen by 13.7%.

Prof Jeffrey added: "International students tend to prefer managed accommodation in residences. And we're seeing growing demand for managed accommodation also among home undergraduate students beyond the traditional first year in halls, not least because of a tightening of private sector housing supply in the city - so we are going to need to build more residences."

He went on to tell the Local Plan inspectors that future growth of the university may be hindered if the council does not allow room for growth. It is estimated that the university generates around £2.5 billion of added value per year.

Under the Local Plan, the council is aiming to provide 650 new jobs per year until 2033, however Prof Jeffery has said the university was already creating around 300 per year.

He added: "After growth in the last decade, we have very little further development space, we are almost full. Our capacity to repurpose our older facilities is highly constrained by extensive listing both of buildings but in particular landscape, which really impacts on the development possibilities.

"Those constraints are balanced to an extent by some of the lessons we've drawn through Covid about how to work differently, which I think will reduce the square meterage which we're going to need in future per employee. But that's not going to outweigh the growing demand for managed student accommodation, nor the need to invest in new facilities."

Scott Lyness QC, for the council, commented: "We want to understand more about the university's position - we can't say that we accept their desire for more land to achieve the ambitions which they've set out in their evidence."