Savills study

Glasgow top for student accommodation shortfall

student accommodation St Vincent Street
Student accommodation blocks are springing up in Glasgow

Glasgow has the largest imbalance between supply and demand for purpose built student accommodation (PBSA) in the UK and requires 22,000 additional beds in order to fulfil requirements, according to a new report.

Edinburgh is also experiencing a considerable shortfall needing an additional 17,000 beds to cater to students within the city.

The figures may come as a surprise to those who believe city centres are being swamped by too much student accommodation.

Savills analysed the PBSA market across 20 of the UK’s largest student cities, containing more than 1.3 million full-time students and circa 500,000 operational beds. In total, the firm found that an extra 234,000 beds are required to bring the student to bed ratio down to the preferred figure of 1.5.

A high student to bed ratio generally indicates a lack of supply. Savills found that the ratio of full-time students to beds is 2.7 across these markets. At present, five cities have a ratio of over 3.0, with Glasgow at the top of the list at 3.8, followed by London and Bristol at 3.6 and 3.5 respectively.

In the short-term, Glasgow has just 11% of its operational stock in the pipeline. This means that the impact on student to bed ratios will be limited, falling by only 0.4. With over 77,000 full-time students across five higher education institutions providing more space is critical.

This is in comparison to Bristol, where delivery of PBSA is set to see an increase of 45% of operational supply meaning the student to bed ratio will reduce from 3.5 to 2.5 once delivered.

Alex France, associate director in the development team at Savills Scotland, comments: “Glasgow’s strength as an academic centre of excellence is not to be underestimated and its continued success is critical to the city’s economic prosperity. 

Providing sufficient high quality PBSA to meet demand from students is imperative to maintain Glasgow’s national and global appeal, as well as helping alleviate pressure in the region’s private rented sector, which is suffering from severe supply shortages.”

Jacqui Daly, director in the research team at Savills, adds: “Both Glasgow and Edinburgh have a high student to bed ratio indicating a considerable lack of supply. In Glasgow, at present there are 3.5 students per available room, with the private rented sector (PRS) having to pick up the largest share when it comes to accommodation.

“However, as we know, the housing market is facing its own constraints meaning more PBSA is required to alleviate mounting pressure.

“Ultimately, those university cities that fail to provide adequate accommodation may not attract as many students moving forward, with a number of institutions already stepping out of clearing for this reason.”

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