Research on international students and their experience of accommodation in the UK


Unipol is looking to undertake some student-facing research to understand the international student experience of finding accommodation and any challenges they have encountered. 

At the moment, many universities do not know how their accommodation market is working or what its capacity is – or what the capacity of other nearby commutable markets is. Equally, there is limited research on how arriving students are navigating their local housing market. 

The Research

This research will concentrate on understanding the student experience and provide useful evidence of any challenges students are facing that will enable institutions to improve their communications to incoming students as well as understand what support current students need.

Themes such as affordability, access to advice and pre-arrival information, family housing, overcrowding, commuting and part-time working will be explored.   

The research will survey international students in May and June 2023 and results will be delivered in mid-July 2023.  Please get in touch if you would like to get involved. 


Following a rapid increase in postgraduate taught international students over the last few years there is emerging evidence of a significant impact on the student accommodation market.

  • The profile of the UK’s international student population is shaped by the following trends and factors growth in numbers of students from China are slowing and they are consolidating in higher-tariff universities
  • increasing numbers from India and Nigeria account for most PGT growth and tend to be concentrated in post-92 lower- and middle-tariff universities
  • the number of international students arriving with dependents and entering the non-student housing market is on the rise
  • students from Nigeria and India are generally looking for lower-cost accommodation.

A recent Hepi Blog by Martin Blakey, CEO of Unipol provides an overview of recent changes in student recruitment patterns and whether the supply of accommodation is meeting students’ needs.  He considers whether universities need to be redefining their relationship with accommodation and students’ expectations of them. 

“The most important thing a university can do is give these prospective students accurate information about what accommodation choices they have; what difficulties they may experience; and how much accommodation actually costs. On that basis, these students can make good choices.”

See: HEPI Blog: Developments in Student Accommodation March 2023