Students in the United Kingdom now pay 60% more for halls of residence than they did a decade ago

The average yearly rent for undergraduate housing is currently £7,347, which is more than a standard maintenance loan and housing charity.

Unipol warns that student room rents are rising far faster than inflation, that there is a growing scarcity of truly affordable rooms, and that options are narrowing as private halls providers, who now operate the majority of student housing, focus on offering luxury studio apartments, often aimed at international students, rather than cheaper alternatives.

London is particularly expensive for students, with the average rental costing £10,857 per year. That comes in at 61 percent higher than the national average.

“The affordability of student housing affects students’ educational experience, as well as having a big impact on access and widening participation,” Hillary Gyebi-Ababio, vice-president for higher education at the National Union of Students (NUS), stated. It’s a pity that so many young people are priced out of university, either because they are discouraged or unwilling to apply, or because their options are severely constrained by where they can afford to live.”

The audit also pointed out universities’ rising reliance on profit-driven private suppliers, who accounted for 70% of the beds surveyed. The number of beds available from these providers has more than doubled, from 142,439 in 2012-13 to 361,717 in 2021-22, according to the research, and the trend is expected to continue because yields “continue to outpace alternative prospects in the property sector.”

According to the survey, private operator bed spaces are about a quarter (24%) more expensive than university-run bed spaces, and the difference is widening as private providers price themselves based on what competitors charge rather than what students can pay. For example, the average rent for a self-catered room in private halls is £5,157 for university-owned housing, £5,985 for privately contracted housing, and £7,264 for entirely private halls.

The NUS is urging universities to keep a closer grip on the rents imposed by the private halls with whom they collaborate; to provide more affordable rooms, as the most economical option – ordinary shared bathroom rooms – is in decline, and to provide housing bursaries to vulnerable students.

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