View guides

Student Accommodation Research: Q1-2023 Update

Posted by Aisling Murphy in

StuRents Q1-2023 Quarterly Reports out now

Every quarter, StuRents produces quarterly reports for 46 university cities and towns across the UK, as well as a national report covering the whole of the UK. With over 750,000 beds listed on our platform each year, we extract millions of data points and analyse these in-depth to develop insights and to understand trends for each university city. This makes our data unique, extensive, and hyper-relevant on a city-by-city basis.

Student Demand Growth

Key findings:

  • Total UCAS acceptances nationally remained mostly steady
  • Yearly UCAS acceptances from domestic students fell marginally in 2022, but are up by 13% compared to 2013
  • EU UCAS acceptances fell by 29% year-on-year. More positively, acceptances from non-EU international students jumped by more than 15%

Figure 1: UCAS Acceptances by Domicile
Figure 1 UCAS Acceptances by Domicile max-width:100 height=
Source: UCAS

The chart above shows UCAS acceptances over time, split between UK, EU, and non-EU domiciled students.

The data in the chart shows that total UCAS acceptances across the UK remained fairly steady in 2022, rising by just 0.2%. Acceptances from domestic students remained mostly unchanged, falling by 0.6% year-on-year.

However, since 2013, total yearly UCAS acceptances have increased by 13.6%. This increase can be largely attributed to the 12.8% jump in domestic students reported over the same time period.

The chart also shows that the number of yearly UCAS acceptances from EU-domiciled students has continued to decline in 2022, following the loss of their home fee status due to Brexit. EU acceptances fell by 29% year-on-year in 2022, following a decline of more than 50% in the previous year.

More positively, particularly for the PBSA market which is usually targeted to international students, non-EU student numbers continued to climb for the sixth consecutive year. UCAS acceptances from non-EU domiciled students increased by 15% year-on-year in 2022. Non-EU numbers are now 67% higher than in 2013.

The StuRents research team have also explored a more detailed breakdown of what countries international students are coming from. This can help to gain a better understanding of the budgets and preferences of incoming students when it comes to the accommodation they will choose.

Further detail covering the latest data released by UCAS can be found here.

Search Behaviour

Key findings:

  • Demand was highest for larger clusters and HMOs, with those consisting of three beds or more capturing 80% of total demand in Q1-2023 (Oct-Dec 22)
  • The increasing popularity of larger sizes coincides with the start of the 2023-24 lettings season, which is typically dominated by domestic students

Figure 2: Demand Distribution by Size
Figure 2 Demand distribution by size max-width:100 height=
Source: StuRents Limited

The chart above shows the distribution of searches performed on the StuRents platform, both in Q1-2023 and in the prior quarter by unit mix.

Coinciding with the start of the new lettings season, demand for larger properties increased in Q1-2023. In Q4-2022 (July-September 2022), demand for clusters and HMOs containing three beds or more equated to 32.9% of demand, however, this jumped to 80.1% in the most recent quarter. Demand for these sizes will be primarily driven by domestic students, particularly those returning in their second and third years.

Whilst demand for larger bed sizes increased, demand for studios and one-bed flats fell in Q1-2023. 1-bed flats and studios equated to 8.6% of searches performed on StuRents in Q1-2023. This compares to more than 57.0% in the previous quarter. Similarly, demand for 2-bed flats fell to 11.4%, down from 25.8% in the previous three months.

As our research team is able to leverage millions of proprietary data points generated each year from student search activity on (the largest student accommodation listings platform in the UK), our quarterly reports also include key insights into student search budgets on a city-level and national basis. We are also able to break this down and explore budgets based on the nationality of students, as we have done in this insightful article.

Planning Activity

Key findings:

  • The national supply pipeline stands at nearly 117k beds, 33k of which are still awaiting approval
  • Assuming all beds in the pipeline are delivered, PBSA supply could increase by up to 4.7% in 2023
  • In 2022, 27k beds were submitted and 24k beds were granted planning permission

Figure 3: PBSA Forward Supply Schedule
Figure 3 PBSA Forward Supply Schedule max-width:100 height=
Source: StuRents Limited, All relevant councils

The chart above shows the national PBSA forward supply schedule, detailing how PBSA bed numbers could increase in the coming years.

The chart shows that nationally, PBSA could increase by as much as 4.7% in 2023. However, this assumes all the beds in the pipeline are delivered on time.

In 2022, just over 27k beds across 140 applications were put forward for planning approval nationally. Meanwhile, 24k beds across 111 applications were granted planning permission in 2022. Whilst these figures are broadly in line with the previous year, looking back historically, these numbers represent a significant reduction in planning application activity.

Figure 4: PBSA Pipeline in Select Locations
Figure 4 PBSA Pipeline in Select Locations max-width:100 height=
Source: StuRents Limited, All relevant councils

Whilst national figures can be useful in analysing changes in the market, it is important to recognise that different universities and locations can exhibit very different trends. The chart above shows how pipelines vary in some select locations across the UK.

Some key submission updates nationally include:

  • 1,000+ bed scheme in Manchester lodged by Domnivs
  • 706 units earmarked for Silverthorne Lane, Bristol
  • Multiple schemes in Newcastle submitted (1,100+ in total)
  • 544-bed scheme in Coventry

Some notable approvals in Q1-2023 included:

  • Downing received planning for 1,204 beds in Leeds
  • Watkin Jones granted permission for Edinburgh scheme (406 beds)
  • 378 beds in Sheffield approved
  • Multiple additional schemes in Leeds approved

For more information about our proprietary, highly granular data covering the UK student accommodation contact the StuRents Research team today. Or book a demo of our Data Portal to find out how you can have up-to-the-minute university housing insights at your fingertips.