Acceptance Rates Remain Down on Last Year

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UCAS has reported that 461,860 people have been placed in full-time UK higher education, a decline of 1% compared to the same point last year.

Since A-level results day a further 45,550 people have had their university and college places confirmed. This includes 33,750 people accepted through Clearing, which represents an increase of 1% on the same time last year.

The total Clearing figure includes 28,270 people placed after applying through the main UCAS scheme, as well as 5,480 who applied directly through Clearing after the June 30 deadline. A further 8,440 people have applied directly to Clearing but are yet to be placed in higher education.

There are an additional 124,190 people who applied through the main UCAS scheme and are free to be placed in Clearing, a decline of 13% on last year. However, this figure will decrease as applicants are placed. This total includes those who weren't able to meet their offer conditions, whilst others will have received no offers earlier in the year, and some may have chosen not to accept any offers.

Nottingham's Student Accommodation Increases by a Third

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Analysis has found the number of student houses in Nottingham have risen by a third in just six years.

In 2010 there were 8,743 student properties in the city, however this has risen to 11,645 as of last year, representing an increase of 33%.

Student houses in Nottingham now reportedly account for one in 12 homes in the city.

Despite an influx of student accommodation, the East Midlands Chamber of Commerce, which represents businesses in Nottingham, remains supportive overall, highlighting the significant contribution students bring to the city's economy.

A spokesman for the chamber said: "Students contribute £63m a year in and around the city. That's from rent and day-to-day costs to nightlife.

"But they also provide huge other benefits to the local community.

"The universities themselves also bring in such colossal amounts of revenue, which without them we wouldn't have a taste of.

"They bring in tourism, when it's freshers week parents come down and they need to stay somewhere. You have to look at the wider picture. Nottingham would be a far poorer place without students."

The recent increase in student accommodation has been attributed to the rise in purpose-built student accommodation, which has the added benefit of freeing up traditional housing for the residential market.

However, it's not all positive. Managing director at Innes England, Tim Garrett, highlighted that purpose-built student accommodation was taking away suitable office space, limiting the number of potential new office jobs.

Former Conservative Chief of Staff Describes Tuition Fees As a Ponzi Scheme

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Theresa May's former chief of staff has described the current university fee system as a "unsustainable Ponzi scheme", which is in need of radical reform.

Nick Timothy compared the fee system in England to the investment scam, whereby high returns are promised for investors, but are in fact generated by using money from new investors. Eventually the scam runs out of funds and the whole scheme collapses.

Mr Timothy wrote: "Tuition fees were supposed to make university funding fairer for the taxpayer, but more than three quarters of graduates will never pay back their debts.

"We have created an unsustainable and ultimately pointless Ponzi scheme, and young people know it.

"With average debts of £50,000, graduates in England are the most indebted in the developed world."

Mr Timothy resigned as a Number 10 adviser following the 2017 election but had backed the idea of a single financial entitlement, which could be spent on any kind of tertiary education, including technical courses.

He suggested governments had wrongly assumed that an increase in university graduates would boost economic growth, and that technical qualifications were more likely to boost productivity.

Responding to the comments, universities minister Jo Johnson defended the system. Mr Johnson said: "Young people from the poorest areas are now 43% more likely to go to university than in 2009-10, and 52% more likely to attend a high tariff institution."

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."