University Acceptances Down 2% on last Year

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UCAS has confirmed that 416,310 students have been accepted at UK universities and colleges so far this year.

The number of students accepted on A-level results day is down 2% compared to 2016, but represents the second highest number recorded. The decline in acceptances can be attributed to a fall in older students, as well as fewer students from the European Union.

In total 201,270 18-year olds from the UK gained a place, a similar number to last year and the highest number recorded on A-level results day.

The percentage of 18-year olds in the population securing a place at a university or college was recorded at 27.5% for England, 28.3% for Northern Ireland, 24.9% for Scotland and 24.8% for Wales.

Elsewhere the number of students placed from the EU fell 3% year-on-year to 26,090, while the number of international students accepted, increased by 4% to 30,350.

Commenting on the latest figures, UCAS chief executive Clare Marchant, said: "The overall numbers of students being accepted onto courses is lower, but it is a complicated picture. We are seeing a growing proportion of 18 year olds going into higher education, and greater numbers of students from our most deprived communities are securing places.

"At the same time, we are seeing fewer older students taking places, and a fall in numbers from the EU. Higher education is still a hugely popular life choice, which has a transformational impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people every year."

Government Confirms It Will Hike Interest Rates on Student Loans

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The government has reinforced its stance on charging interest rates on student loans in England of 6.1% from autumn this year.

There had been reports the government might rethink its plans to charge such high interest rates due to fears of excessive debt levels.

However, this week the Department for Education and the Student Loans Company confirmed the proposed increase.

The announcement rules out speculation the government was considering limiting interest rate increases for student loans on tuition fees and maintenance costs from September 2017 to August 2018.

Students are due to receive their A-level results this week, and those starting university this year will be subject to the 6.1% interest rate charge on student loans.

A recent study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies calculated that students will have accumulated on average, £5,800 in interest rate charges before they have even graduated.

However, it's not just new students being hit. The increase will also apply to other former students who received loans after fees were increased to £9,000 in 2012.

University Minister Jo Johnson has previously argued the fee system represented a fair distribution of costs between students and taxpayers and that it provides financial sustainability for universities.

Co-living Scheme Planned for Manchester

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iQ Student has revealed plans to create a brand-new block of student accommodation for graduates in Manchester's city centre.

Under the proposals, three blocks of 'co-living accommodation' will be built on Granby Row, near Piccadilly station.

The development will be dubbed Echo Street and will consist of 643 bedrooms across a mix of studios and shared apartments. The rooms will be made available for young professionals who are being out priced by the current private rental market.

iQ claims the scheme will make city centre living affordable for graduates and young professionals, with only one week's deposit required and all-inclusive rents.

The Echo Street scheme will also feature 242 bedrooms of student accommodation on the site of the existing Chandos House, which is owned and operated by iQ Student Accommodation.

Plans for the proposed development will undergo a three-week public consultation before being submitted to Manchester city council. If the plans are given the green light, developers expect to start work on the site in 2018.

Commenting on the proposed scheme, Rob Roger, chief executive of iQ Student Accommodation said: "We are pleased to be proposing this landmark scheme, a first of its kind outside London which aims to become a new solution for graduates and urban professionals who want to live in the heart of the city.

"We believe developments like Echo Street will help to retain talent and attract young professionals, further supporting the major growth that this vibrant city is experiencing.

"As the size and demand of the rental population in Manchester has grown, average rents have risen steeply, making it harder for young people who contribute so much to the city to live centrally. This development is addressing a real need."

1,000 Student Beds Planned for Stoke-on-Trent

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Plans have been put forward to build nearly 1,000 student flats on the former Stoke-on-Trent college in Shelton.

Developer, JEDS Investments is looking to demolish the Cauldon campus to make way for 939 state-of-the-art student flats, with a cafe and shops on the ground floor.

The student accommodation scheme will also come equipped with a gym, laundry facilities, cinema, IT room, games area and study pods. There will also be around 23 parking spaces and storage for around 236 bikes.

Commenting on the proposals, a JEDS Investments spokesman said: "The proposed scheme will develop this vacant land at a key setting within the city and provide a positive contribution to the local community. The buildings are carefully designed to create valuable use of a neglected site at this important location."

More student accommodation is required to meet the demand created by the closure of Staffordshire University's Stafford Campus, with around 2,400 full-time students arriving in the Potteries at the start of the 2016-17 academic year. Expectations are this figure will rise to a total of 13,000, increasing the demand for student housing.

In response, the university has been investing millions of pounds into transforming the Stoke campus into a major student hub.

Residents and business have supported the most recent application due to its potential to regenerate the area. If approved, the scheme will consist of several blocks between five and eight storeys tall and include 633 studios along with 280 cluster flats and 26 accessible units.

A decision is due on the scheme in the next few months.

Research Suggests Poorer Students Less Likely to Attend University

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New research by charity Teach First has uncovered that young people in the wealthiest areas of England are 18 times more likely to go to university than those in the poorest.

The study found in areas of Derbyshire, only one in 20 young people progressed to university in 2015, compared with more than 80% in parts of Buckinghamshire.

Commenting on the findings, Universities Minister, Jo Johnson said figures were improving.

Mr Johnson said: "Recent UCAS data shows that young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to go to university than ever before, but we agree there is more to do."

The charity used figures from the Higher Education Funding Council for England to highlight the area of Shirebrook in Derbyshire, where only 4.8% of young people started university in 2015.

By comparison, in Gerrads Cross North in Buckinghamshire, 87.2% of young people entered university in 2015.

In addition to variances in entry rates, Teach First also found disadvantaged young people choose different universities compared to their more privileged peers. A ComRes poll of 18-25 year olds found that 41% of the most advantaged students chose their university because it offered the best for what they wanted to study, compared to just 31% of the least advantaged.

In response to the findings, the charity called on the government to improve entry rates by writing off student debt to get better teachers into challenging schools. They suggested 20% of student debt could be cleared for those working for two years, increasing to 50% for those remaining in certain areas, or subject areas for five years.

It also called on universities to start offering university access programmes at primary level, as it's believed universities' access work is coming to late.

Empiric Purchases Forwarded Funded Edinburgh Scheme

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Empiric Student Property has entered into a forward funded agreement for a 166-bed student development, after acquiring land with planning permission in Edinburgh.

The student property specialists have committed a total of £26.56 million towards the project, with the scheme being valued upon completion. The developer may subsequently be entitled to a further capped payment once completed, depending on the asset's valuation.

The redevelopment of the site will consist of the demolition of existing buildings and the construction of a brand new purpose-built student accommodation block, which will be made up entirely of 166 studios.

The student housing is just one part of a wider development project by Peveril Securities Limited, which also consists of a hotel and 52 residential units. The development is expected to be complete in time for the 2019-20 academic year.

Upon completion Empiric will be marketing and letting the asset through its Hello Student brand, with a show flat being made available in November 2018.

The student property will mark Empiric's second in Edinburgh, taking the company's total portfolio in the city to 254 beds.

The latest development is located opposite Edinburgh castle, with more than half the rooms having views of the World Heritage Site.

The scheme also benefits from close proximity to the Grassmarket area of the city, and is just a 10-minute walk away from the University of Edinburgh's main campus.

Commenting on the acquisition, chief executive Paul Hadaway, said: "We are very pleased to have made this acquisition in the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town. The city contains 49,705 full-time students (latest available HESA data 2015/16) and the university of Edinburgh attracts 38% of its full-time students from international backgrounds. This is a very well-regarded institution benefiting from a particularly strong ratio of 10.5 undergraduate applications to acceptances (6.6 nationally). This acquisition is in line with Empiric's investment criteria and returns profile."

800 Bed Sheffield Student Scheme Moves Forward

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A significant block of student accommodation in Sheffield has taken a step closer to being constructed after a deal was agreed between developers and a unnamed student accommodation provider.

The multi-million-pound project, located at the junctions of Moore Street, Fitzwilliam Street and Thomas Street will provide enough accommodation for more than 800 students.

The site is currently occupied by the former Stokes Tiles Centre and surrounding properties.

Developers Litton Buccleuch have now exchanged contracts on the 12-storey scheme with an unknown student accommodation provider.

The development will consist of four connected blocks, providing student flats, and retail units and cafes on the ground floor.

Plans have yet to be granted formal approval, but if given the go-ahead construction work is due to start in May 2018 and will take around two years to complete.

Litton Buccleuch represents a joint venture between Litton Property Group and Buccleuch Property, with the company having spent two years on the scheme.

It's hoped the student development will trigger further residential developments in the adjoining Devonshire Quarter.

Commenting on the scheme. Marks Twelves of Litton Buccleuch, said: "We are delighted to have exchanged contracts with a dynamic and forward-thinking student provider, whose track record in other cities speaks for itself.

"The finished product will provide high specification student living in a prime location between the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University and within the inner ring road.

"The city council, its planners and both universities are in broad support of the scheme that will complement Sheffield council’s progressive regeneration proposals for the city centre and provide the universities with a further selling platform in a very competitive market."

Crosslane Gains Approval for Edinburgh Scheme

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Crosslane Student Developments has obtained planning permission to build an 83-bed purpose-built student accommodation block on Calton Road in Edinburgh.

The site is currently home to a car valeting business and is situated opposite the New Parliament House.

The student development will consist of four storeys and will offer 80 en-suite studio apartments and three one-bedroom flats. The scheme will also come equipped with a common room, laundry facilities, gym, outdoor courtyard and cycle storage.

Crossland also recently received planning permission to build 307 student beds in Swansea. Both schemes are due for completion in time for the 2019-20 academic year.

Commenting on the development, Jon Stewart, direct at Crosslane Student Developments, said: "Crosslane is delighted to have secured planning consent for two new purpose-built student accommodation developments on Calton Road, Edinburgh and The Kingsway, Swansea. Both schemes are right in the heart of the city centre and within very easy reach of the local universities. At 307 and 83 beds, respectively, they will help to provide efficient solutions to the shortage of quality housing for students in their respective cities."

Significant Riverside Sunderland Scheme Approved

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Despite objections from its neighbours, a 12-storey block of student accommodation is to be built next to a luxury riverside development in Sunderland.

To make space for the new 363-bed student accommodation, a number of workshops will be demolished.

Despite the £20 million scheme overlooking private apartments in the Bonners Raff development, the purpose-built student accommodation was unanimously approved by Sunderland City Council.

The student development will come equipped with 314 studios, 40 larger two-bedroom flats, six one-bedroom flats, and three accessible flats.

The site will also include facilities such as a student common room, study rooms, games room, dance studios, gym, secure cycle storage and car parking spaces for occupiers of the two-bedroom flats.

During the application process concerns were raised over the possibility of falling student numbers, which may result in a different demographic being housed in the block.

In response, applicants Butlers Walsall Ltd said it will work closely with Sunderland University to ensure this doesn't happen and that the building will be carefully managed.

It's expected that the new student population will lead to further regeneration of the area, and the applicant is working with the university to address concerns about declining student numbers.

Balfour Beatty Completes Glasgow Student Accommodation

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Balfour Beatty has completed the construction of the £32 million Foundry Courtyard student accommodation in Glasgow.

The construction firm delivered the residence in time for the 2017-18 academic year within just twenty-one months.

The student accommodation consists 536 en-suite bedrooms, split between 70 cluster flats and 149 studios.

Situated on Kennedy Street, the development also comes equipped with a gym, cinema room, study pods and social games area, along with a secure private courtyard.

Commenting on the development, Ian Woosey, investment director for Balfour Beatty Investments, said: "We are looking forward to welcoming the new students to their new accommodation for the start of the academic year. The feedback we have had from the students who are viewing and booking into the new facilities is that they love the stylish communal areas and are looking forward to enjoying the generous outdoor space between the buildings. The accommodation truly offers a variety of amenities to enable students to enjoy every moment of their education."

The accommodation will be managed by industry specialists Fresh Student Living and will be welcoming students to the site for the upcoming academic year.