By Bea Patel, TLE Property Editor and Director of Shop for an Agent
Student pads have come a long way and we’ve continued to see growth in the student accommodation market in the UK. Overseas students coming to the UK is growing year on year, and the UK university experience has huge appeal. While it’s easy to look at figures of those choosing a UK study set-up, once here, does the experience meet their expectations?
A new study by the UK Higher Education International Unit, using data from i-graduate’s International Student Barometer (ISB), has revealed that satisfaction with the UK study experience has improved in recent years. The latest statistics from 2014 show 91 per cent of students are satisfied overall, compared to 90 per cent in 2008.
The UK has the greatest international student intake. The number of those who would recommend the university experience to someone else has grown by 2 per cent in the last six years, placing the UK firmly on the world stage as the leading higher education destination for student satisfaction.
An important aspect of this appeal is the student accommodation living experience. The study showed the quality of accommodation has improved by a percentage point to a level of 84 per cent of students satisfied today.
Students rated, out of four, their satisfaction with the quality of UK student properties. The UK set itself ahead of rivals with a satisfaction score of 3.07, ahead of Australia at 3.05 and Canada, New Zealand and the US all rating 3.01.
Heriberto Cuanalo, ceo of Collegiate AC, a provider of luxury student accommodation comments on the findings: “We are very proud to be at the leading edge of the excellent and internationally recognised student accommodation sector in the UK, and it is fantastic to see that students are overall extremely satisfied with their university living experience. At Collegiate AC we strive to be the very best we can be and our motto ‘Student living. Just better’ is at the core of everything we do. It is heartening that this is recognised in our consistently high levels of student satisfaction, both with overseas students arriving in the UK to study and with our home-grown students that choose to live at a Collegiate AC property.”
One happy student is Annie McConnell, 18 from Glastonbury, a first-year student at the University of Reading and a resident of Collegiate AC’s Saxon Court. Annie explains how her living experience compares to her previous expectations: “When choosing my university accommodation, I knew that I wanted to be in a halls environment so that I could make new friends, but also have my own privacy and space, and this is exactly what the individual studio setup at Saxon Court seemed to provide. After looking at the website and visiting the showroom I had an idea of what the rooms looked like, but didn’t think that my studio would be the same. I assumed that the company would have made some things look better than they are in reality – I genuinely thought what I’d seen was far too good to be true – but it turned out that this wasn’t the case at all!
“Saxon Court has exceeded my expectations, when I saw my room I was so happy. I would have just been happy with my studio let alone the gym, cinema room and dinner party room! I also didn’t expect the lounge to be so nice, it really does look like something off of a movie set, it’s incredible!”
Although the cost of living in the UK for students has increased in recent years, student satisfaction has also increased above this. The ‘International Undergraduate Students: The UK’s Competitive Advantage’ report is the most significant study of the undergraduate experience ever undertaken. It reveals there has been an increase of 7 per cent in living cost satisfaction levels from 2008 to 2014.
The report indicates the key is ‘positive expectation management’ – for example ensuring energy and internet bills are part of the single fee charged, so student budgeting for cost of living is made simple and painless. And with extra on-site facilities like those offered by Collegiate AC properties, such as on-site gyms and private cinemas at no extra cost means budgets are more manageable.