What students look for in purpose-built student accommodation

What students look for in purpose-built student accommodation

Last year was a year like no other – no one predicted a global pandemic and its impact on the purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) sector.  The closure of Universities and the ongoing travel restrictions lead many to believe demand for student accommodation would fall.

It was originally feared the sector would face a serious financial disaster and a collapse in high-fee earning international student numbers.  However, in reality 2020 / 2021 had a record year of undergraduate applications for both UK and international students.  In fact, not only has the number of students applying to University increased, but investment into PBSA has also remained strong.

The future for the purpose-built student accommodation sector looks very positive and encouragingly operators have faired well over this past year compared to landlords in the wider rental market. With more than two third (69%) of students living in PBSA reportedly feeling positive about their accommodation providers response to the pandemic.  By comparison just a quarter of students living in house-shares owned by private landlords said the same.

COVID-19 has brought significant changes to the way students are engaging with their accommodation and those that provide it.  One of the key trends that have emerged from this pandemic is a growing sensitivity to high-quality accommodation that provides added value.  In this blog we take a look at the key features students are prepared to pay a premium for and how to include these in your refurbishment strategy.

Fast Wi Fi

At the top of the list is better WiFi! Whilst it might not always be possible to upgrade your broadband services, if you are going to undertake a refurbishment it is worth reviewing.  The telecommunication market is always evolving and solutions that might not have been available to you last year or were not cost effective, might be an option now.

Larger bedrooms and comfier beds

Not only is the cleanliness of a bedroom important to students but also the size of the room and the comfiness of the bed.   The good news is you do not necessarily need to reconfigure your rooms to create the perception of increased floor space.  You can achieve the same effect by getting clever with your bedroom layouts – increasing the amount of shelving, using collapsible desks, introducing narrow wardrobes and even adding mirrors or redecorating to make the space feel bigger.

On-site gym

Access to a gym is the third most important factor to supporting student wellbeing and can command a premium for purpose-built student accommodation providers that offer these facilities on site.  Interestingly, students are less willing to pay a premium for amenities such as swimming pools, cinemas and games rooms.

The good news is on-site gyms do not need to take up a lot of space and you can do a lot even with a small budget. Whilst a lot will depend on the type of equipment you want to include, it is possible to create a space that is enjoyable and big enough to house multiple people – click here to check out one of our most recent gym refurbishments in a purpose-built student accommodation building.

24-hour security

As well as supporting student wellbeing, 24-hour security was also ranked as an important factor when deciding where to live.  Most purpose-built student accommodation operators will provide these services within their buildings and many have a security guard on site.  However, with the rise of smart technology, there are options to offer the same (or even enhanced) level of security for students without the need of an onsite attendant.  Introducing smart technology into a building can be tricky but it can provide enormous benefits including reduced energy waste and better operational performance – click here to read more.  

On-site launderette

When deciding where to live factors identified by students as ‘extremely’ or ‘very important’ included the overall quality of the accommodation and the facilities offered, with an on-site laundry room being at the top of that list.  Providing a laundry room can add a premium to your accommodation and with the right team it can be installed quickly.

Natural light in the bedroom

The level of daylight in a room can transform the look and feel of a space.  Although this is completely subjective and it might not always be possible to increase the amount of daylight into a room, you can enhance what you already have.  Reconfiguring furniture, redecorating the room to use brighter colours, adding mirrors and metallics can help maximize the amount of natural light in the room.

Better communal kitchen / dining facilities

Student kitchens can be an important place for socialising and making new friends but can often be difficult to maintain especially in shared living spaces.  Communal spaces and dining facilities need to endure a lot of wear and tear so its best use materials that are durable and low cost.

You do not need to compromise on quality – it is possible to create the feeling of luxury without having to pay a premium and if you use hardwearing materials, you shouldn’t need to fork out a fortune in maintenance or repairs.

Kitchen refurbishment are one of our specialties within the purpose-built student accommodation sector – check out a couple of our most recent projects here.

Let’s chat

If you’re a purpose-built student accommodation operator and need a contractor deliver your planned maintenance strategy or would like to discuss a refurbishment project, give us a call today on 0117 967 5923 or email enquiries@harrisevolution.com.