During these uncertain times, aspects of the purpose built student accommodation (PBSA) market remain positive, with UCAS reporting that nine out of ten prospective undergraduates are still continuing with their UCAS applications for the new academic year. 

Along with the Government’s rapid shift to alternative assessment methods following the cancellation of A-level exams, this good news demonstrates the resilient demand characteristics of the student market. This resilience has been further illustrated recently by Unite and GCP both reporting consistent year-on-year booking rates for 2020/21, suggesting that occupancy levels should remain broadly constant, subject to the longevity and impact of ongoing lockdowns.

The removal of the Wuhan lockdown is a further positive sign of recovery, and a move that will hopefully lead to the loosening of restrictions over the coming weeks. Importantly, a large number of Chinese students will hopefully continue to join UK higher education institutions in September. Some commentators are forecasting that the UK may attract a greater proportion of international students as a result of the Australian academic year and tightened Australian visa policy, as well as Donald Trump’s recent rhetoric and the weakening pound. These factors are all supported by anecdotal evidence from a number of student operators who have seen a recent spike in international bookings over the last few weeks.