Accommodation, not studies, a big headache for students

Paying guest, accommodation, education, hostel, UK, USA, Australia, houses, short supply, the federal, english news website
University or college hostels can accommodate only 20 per cent of their students. The rest have to live in the “big, bad world”. Photo: iStock

Student life in India has changed drastically over the past decade. From stories of mischief in college or university hostel dorms and strict bed timings, their tales have now shifted to the travails of living as paying guests or sharing a private apartment outside the campus.

A key reason is the lack of accommodation at universities and colleges. India currently has approximately 3.4 crore students. University or college hostels can accommodate only 20 per cent of their students. The rest have to live in the ‘big, bad world.’

Parents often prefer on-campus accommodations for their children for reasons such as safety and affordability. With the rising student population, finding an accommodation even outside campuses is becoming difficult.

About 80 lakh students in India are currently struggling to find accommodation near university campuses. This is due to the shortage of purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA), according to the Global Student Property 2019 report by Knight Frank.

The current demand for PSBA across the country totals 80 lakh, which is expected to grow at a rate of around 8 per cent each year to touch 1.3 crore by 2025, the report estimates.

Supply-demand imbalance

Even developed countries like the US, UK, Australia and European nations are witnessing a shortage of student accommodation spaces as increasing number of students shift to these locations for studies.

In the US, for instance, there has been a healthy pipeline of new accommodations but the country has a history of imbalance between supply and demand.

“Overall, student numbers are likely to be boosted further by an increase in the number of international students studying in the US. Overseas students were estimated to total 1.5 million in 2018,” says the study.

Inflow of students

In the United Kingdom, students from foreign countries account for 16 per cent of full-time undergraduate students who are being accommodated in studio flats. While some 25,000 such accommodations are being delivered into the UK market each year, full-time student numbers outweigh available rooms by approximately 3:1, as per the report.

“There are almost 1.9 million students studying in the UK either part or full-time,
of which around 750,000 are either first-year or international students. With around 615,000 operational beds, there remains a structural imbalance between supply and demand,” Nick Hayes, Group Property Director, Unite Students, is quoted as saying in the report.

Even Australia is facing a similar situation where international students now represent 32.4 per cent of the full-time undergraduate population. According to the report, the sharp rise in students is due to the government’s ambitious enrolment targets, consistent growth in international students, and a significant increase in state-backed university funding.

“Key urban locations in Australia remain significantly under-supplied given strong demand,” Paul Haldey, an analyst at Scape Australia, is quoted saying in the report.

Varying growth

In Europe the student housing market has grown significantly in the past decade. In Berlin, Madrid and Paris the number of students have increased on average by 2.5 per cent annually over three years to 2018. However, the supply of new PBSA has not kept pace. If the trend continues, the supply gap in three cities — Berlin, Madrid and Paris — will be about 1 lakh beds in 2021.

Currently, there is no accommodation for eight out of every 10 students in Europe. “Despite a relatively strong PBSA pipeline in many European cities, the average rate is not expected to increase quickly,” Samuel Vetrak, CEO of BONARD, an education and student housing data provider, is quoted saying in the report.

So it looks like students, in India or wherever, have to make do with what is available. No cribs, please.