Affordability still the number one issue facing students seeking rented accommodation, reveals annual poll

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16th January 2020 12:06 - Education

Affordability still the number one issue facing students seeking rented accommodation: Students searching for a place to live whilst at university are influenced the most by affordability, according to a recent poll. 

The annual Student Accommodation Survey survey conducted by UCAS and London-based letting agent, Knight Frank, polled 60,000 students and found 97% rated  'value for money' as 'slightly', 'very' or 'extremely important' when deciding where to live, followed by overall cost (96%), cleanliness of the bedroom (96%), location (96%) and the quality of accommodation (95%). 

Facilities such as WiFi or a gym were chosen by 91% of respondents, while 90% said they were attracted by bills being included in the rent. Other factors influencing decisions on where to live included quality of the furnishings (89%), the size of the bedroom (85%) and reviews of the accommodation (82%). 

The research revealed that 78% of students across the UK living in purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) accommodation (a studio, university shared house or halls-style residence) were satisfied with their current accommodation. In terms of regions across the UK, the students most satisfied with their PBSA accommodation were in Sheffield (95%) followed by Leicester (93%) and Nottingham, Liverpool and Cardiff (all 89%). 

Looking at privately rented accommodation, 71% said they were satisfied, with those most satisfied living in Sheffield, Leicester, Liverpool and Cardiff (each scoring a 89% satisfaction rating). 

Paying a rental premium

When asked what would persuade them to pay a premium for a student rental 74% of students living in a privately-operated PBSA said the inclusion of WiFi, while almost half (48%) would pay more for a larger bedroom. Slightly less said an on-site gym would entice them to pay more (47%) whilst 24-hour security was appealing to 45%. 

Other answers given included a bigger comfier bed (39%), on-site laundrette (39%) and on-site swimming poll (34%). 

The least attractive premium facilities given by respondents included in-house events (13%), an onsite restaurant or bar (15%), gaming rooms (15%) and free bike hire (14%). 

How do they pay for their accommodation?

When asked how they paid for their accommodation, 49% of first years said their parents footed the bill, falling to 46% of students in their second or subsequent years. Just over a third of first years (34%) said their rent and other living expenses are covered by their student loan (falling to 31% of second or more years), while 34% said housing costs were met by savings and other loans (rising to 35% of second, third or more years). 

While 27% of first years said they pay for accommodation costs through paid work, this increased to 40% of students in their second or third year. For 13% of first-years polled, accommodation costs were funded through bursaries or scholarships (14% of second, third or more years), while 7% were supported by a spouse, partner or relative (8% of second, third or more years).

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