The 2021-2022 Academic Year, What is Likely to Happen

Accommodation Forum 26/08/2021 The 2021-2022 Academic Year, What is Likely to Happen

Thursday 26th August, 11AM-12PM

A conversation on current trends in the Student Accommodation industry - brought to you by Unipol.

Guest Speakers: Martin Blakey (CEO, Unipol), Ian Robertson (University of Leeds), Jo Hardman (Lancaster University), Ed Naylor (Liverpool John Moores University), Wendy Roberts (University of Warwick)

Opening remarks and sector updates – Martin Blakey, CEO, Unipol Student Homes

  • A larger number of students in PBSA stayed to the end of their contracts this year, off street HMO occupancy is estimated at 55% currently.
  • This heightened occupancy is thought to be down to a mix of an increase in opportunities for socialisation, good weather, and the re-opening of hospitality providing work opportunities. As a result of higher occupancy we are seeing more neighbourhood complaints about student antisocial behaviour than usual.
  • As of 10th August UCAS showed the number of students as 5% up on previous year, 9% up on international students and significant growth from USA, Malaysia and Nigeria.
  • Unipol conducted research in June that showed 20% of returning students had delayed looking for their accommodation, it is expected that about 10-15% of students are still to enter the returning market.
  • PBSA suppliers have mitigated risk of non-arrival from international students by letting to more returning students (reducing future supply for international and first year students).
  • There are important local demand variations: the demand in London remains supressed, there are shortages in Bristol, Brighton and Nottingham, and there are known surpluses in Bradford, Coventry and Sheffield.
  • There are 58 new buildings in ANUK/Unipol Codes housing 20,007 students, this compares with 88 new buildings in 2020 housing 25,088 students. 2021 is a quieter year for construction generally.

Ian Robertson - Director of Residential and Catering Facilities, University of Leeds

  • Students achieved much higher grades than anticipated and Leeds have made an offer of £10,000 and free accommodation to defer, in order to maintain standards of teaching.
  • Leeds are optimistic about the arrival of international students, the arrivals may be drawn out over a number of weeks but believe majority of rooms will be taken up.
  • Large lectures will be mostly online, a blended approach is being taken due to need for caution in timetabling process, with a view to make things more relaxed as the year unfolds. Campus spaces will be reopened and social distancing at 1m will be maintained in teaching spaces. Sports facilities, SU and campus facilities will all be reopened.
  • No restrictions will be imposed on visitors to residences, arrivals will be staggered and testing kits will be provided in each bedroom at the start of term.

Jo Hardman - Director of Commercial Services, Lancaster University

  • The response to the situation needs to be live and consistent across university guidance, they expect masks will be encouraged.
  • Occupancy over the summer is quieter than normal due to the campus nature of the University.
  • Clarity and communications around requirements of self isolation rules are going to be a challenge, particularly around the new double vaccine exemption.
  • There is some concern over international student arrivals, they have been booking more slowly and there are significant numbers of continuing students who haven’t booked yet.
  • Welcome week at Lancaster is amongst the last in the country and access has been extended to allow for isolating students.

Ed Naylor – Head of Accommodation and Student Living, Liverpool John Moores University

  • The university has good relationships with private partners and these have been strengthened during the pandemic.
  • Student recruitment is 16% above undergraduate target, compared to 5% above target last year. They are 10% up on bookings for student halls which is not quite as much as expected but students often choose not to go into partner halls.
  • No matter where they arrive, international students who are arriving from an amber list country and have to isolate will need to complete an arrivals form and the university will provide a package for isolation.
  • No intention of restrictions on guests or activities within halls, but masks are being required in lecture halls and buildings.
  • They are expecting more issues with mental health, loneliness and settling in from this cohort due to the experience of the last few years.
  • The university is working together with the police and council together to tackle antisocial behaviour of those going into private housing sector following behaviour in halls in first year 2020-21.

Wendy Roberts – Director of Staff and Student Accommodation, University of Warwick

  • All undergraduates have been offered a room. The university have offered international students to cancel accommodation contracts by 31 August and confirmed they don’t need to arrive until term 2. UG and PG international students are significantly rejecting their offers so Warwick will have empty rooms in their first term. Financially for the university this is fine, as tuition fees in compensating for this and recruitment is still up.
  • No external partnerships have been required.
  • Most of the off-campus head leasing scheme is being closed this week.
  • Warwick have their own test and trace system on campus, allowing direct access to information about which flat is isolating which allows staff to directly contact affected students.
  • Deliveries of food and laundry will continue and social spaces will be open but with 1.5m distancing, face covering and blended learning on campus.