Strong demand

Unite Students lifted by record applications

Molson Coors students
More school-leavers are applying for university

Student accommodation provider Unite Students said it is anticipating strong demand for the next academic year.

Reservations are ahead of pre-pandemic levels at 92 % (2021/22: 83%, 2020/21: 82%, 2019/20: 91 %).

UCAS data shows a 7% increase in the number of applicants as at the 30 June deadline, compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019/20.

A record 44.1% of UK 18-year-olds have applied to university this year and applications from non-EU students are up 9%, including notable growth from China and India, which has helped to substantially offset the expected 18% decline in EU applications as a result of Brexit.

Unite will deliver 1,351 new beds this year and has fully refurbished a further 1,629 beds, all of which are fully let for the 2022/23 academic year.

The development pipeline remains close to its record size at over 6,100 beds, having added three further schemes in the first half.

The property portfolio saw a 5% increase in valuations on a like-for-like basis during the half.

Unite has declared an interim dividend of 11p (H1 2021: 6.5p), an increase of 69% on H1 202.1

Richard Smith, chief executive, commented: “We have seen continued momentum in the first half, as earnings and dividends have grown strongly and reservations for the 2022/23 academic year are now ahead of pre-pandemic levels.

“Our business model offers inflationary protection but, like others, we are not immune from the impact of rising costs and interest rates. We are also very conscious of the current cost of living pressures facing students and parents. Our customer offer provides students with significant savings on their bills, as part of a simple, fixed price all-inclusive rental payment.

“Despite increased economic uncertainty, we remain confident in our ability to deliver significant growth over the medium to long term. Demand for Higher Education has proven to be resilient through economic cycles and we have significant opportunities for growth through our alignment to the strongest universities and by leveraging our best-in-class platform .”

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