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Edinburgh and St Andrews poised for more student flats

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Investors are targeting top towns and cities

Edinburgh and St Andrews are likely to see more purpose-built student accommodation because they are popular locations for investors, according to a new study.

Bath, Birmingham, Brighton, London, Manchester and Oxford also feature at the top of a list of places yielding the best returns.

Future demand is likely to be driven by Chinese and American students who tend to be favourable towards PBSA than domestic students.

Real estate adviser Savills, which carried out the research, also anticipates a record number of new investor groups entering the market, following Lone Star, Crosstree, Barings, Brydell Partners, Ares, and Franklin Templeton who have all made their sectoral debuts since early 2020.

These new investors are likely to target university cities with a strong reputation and with a clear supply/demand imbalance of beds, such as those topping its development league table.

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At £5.77 billion, 2020 was a record-breaking year for investment in UK PBSA, a 5.7% increase on 2019, according to Savills.

Excluding Blackstone’s £4.66 billion acquisition of iQ Student Accommodation from Goldman Sachs and the Wellcome Trust, 98% of investment was into single assets and 60% of the volume in 2020 came from overseas investors.

This demonstrates that international investors remain confident in the UK’s higher education sector and its continued appeal to students from all over the globe.

James Hanmer, head of UK PBSA investment and co-living at Savills, says: “PBSA yields have remained stable this year at 3.75% for prime London and 4.75% for prime regional cities, supported by more stringent rent guarantee structuring.

“This yield stability reinforces why investors are attracted to PBSA, for the long-term income streams it provides, demonstrating the maturity of the asset class”.

“There is no perception of longer-term structural issues in demand for UK higher education, demonstrated by the 8.5% year-on-year increase in applications to universities for this coming year. Noteworthy increases in applications by country include China and India, at +22% and +26% respectively.”

Lawrence Bowles, director, Savills Research, adds: “The countries with the greatest growth in applications are also those most likely to require PBSA.

“There were 130,000 university applications from Chinese students in 2021, who are more than 2.2 times more likely to live in PBSA than domestic students.

“Applications from the USA rose 60.7% year on year too, and American students are 1.9 times more likely to live in PBSA than students from the UK.”



2 Comments to Edinburgh and St Andrews poised for more student flats

  1. That’s an absolute disgrace! Thousands upon thousands in homeless accommodation, bidding week in, week out for maybe a shot at 20 properties?! We don’t need more students we need to get our own people off the streets and into affordable homes. When are the government gonna stop lining their own pockets and help out the very people that keep them in the lifestyles they’ve become accustomed to??? They should try being homeless perhaps then they’d be aware of the sheer despair it causes. Disgusting

  2. We don’t have enough housing in the city centre of Edinburgh for our own residents. Any more students accommodation would put further strains on the locals for places to live. Also the newer student places are nowhere near the university.

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