Today’s A-level results and university acceptances are a further boost for the PBSA sector. Following the publication of results, UCAS have announced that 415,600 students have confirmed undergraduate places in the UK, up 1.6% from results day 2019, a positive increase after three years of decreases and the current global pandemic. At a UK level, 358,860 students have been accepted so far, a 2.9% increase on 2019, despite the number of eighteen year olds falling by 1.5%. With regards to international student acceptances, those based outside the EU have increased by 2% to 34,310 in spite of COVID-19, however, this has been counteracted by a decline in EU student acceptances of 15.2% to 22,430.
Overall, student numbers look positive for the upcoming academic year, re-enforcing returning investor sentiment. After an initial period of uncertainty and reduced market activity there have been eight PBSA transactions in the UK since March 2020, totalling £280 million, supporting stable pre-covid pricing. Whilst the picture currently looks good for the 2020/21 academic year, there is still uncertainty over how international students will travel to the UK given the evolving situation and quarantine policy. Although the sector remains cautious, the latest A-level results and UCAS acceptances give reason for increasing optimism.