Finding the perfect
place to stay
Student housing has become a huge industry, drawing in cash from global investors.
As safe as houses, the old mantra goes. But Julian Hall analyses how international students
are searching for and finding the perfect place to stay, among the growing array of choice,
especially when heading to some popular student cities.
ISSUE #24 | THE PIE REVIEW | 19
STUDENT ACCOMMODATION IS, as
real estate consultancy Knight Frank puts it,
‘an increasingly global asset class’, with cross-border
capital into student property markets around the
world accounting for 40 per cent of investment into student
The growth of the sector, in terms of PBSA invest-ments
– Purpose Built Student Housing – reached a record
US$16.3 billion in 2018, overtaking the 2017 figure of $15.9
billion. This rise comes against the background of over five
million internationally mobile students recorded in 2017,
projected to reach eight million in the next five years ac-cording
to those oft-quoted OECD figures.
Although there are reported gluts in some areas, accom-modation
booking platforms and providers still see various
markets growing and continue to see a stream of interna-tional
students use their services.
The value of diversity
While few platforms and providers would express a direct
preference between domestic and international students,
the ‘commodity’ of an international student is recognised by
providers as valuable for the diversity it gives their ‘commu-nities’
– both in terms of their immediate surroundings and
as an overall part of the institutions they attend.
Mariana Ulanowicz, director of business development
UK’s The Stay Club – which offers accommodation and
co-living spaces for students and professionals in London, as
well as language and pathway courses – says: “We do pride
ourselves in having an international community.
“It’s incredible to see international students mingling in
our social spaces, joining our events and experiencing what
London has to offer. Doing so alongside people that have
grown up with the British heritage gives the community all
the more wealth.”