In recent years a gap has developed and widened between the stereotype of how students live and the reality of how they want to, and often do live. The stereotype, based firmly on The Young Ones, a TV sitcom set in Thatcher’s Britain, where a group of diverse students live in utter squalor. The reality is increasingly moving away from that, in the UK and further afield.
Recent surveys have shown that student demands are increasing, probably as they are expected to pay more in fees and rent. They want their money’s worth in all areas of student life. Almost 100% of students said for example that WiFi access is very important to them when looking for student accommodation. Others said luxury items and communal areas were of increasing importance.
It is in this context that an announcement from Derby signals that this shift in student attitudes is starting to become a reality on the ground. A new accommodation block in the city will include its own cinema, among other luxury facilities. Roman House, a former Debry City Council office block will be converted into 128 student rooms as well as a private gym, social areas, a seminar room as well as the afore mentioned cinema. Sounds like MTV cribs, the student edition.
Included in the building will be CCTV, an on-site manager, high speed WiFi, electronic door entry and an out-of-hours service; all signalling that this is a move to a more luxurious, sophisticated kind of student accommodation. Collegiate AC, the company who will be managing the complex believe it will set a new standard for student accommodation in the area.
Some student accommodation complexes around the world go even further, containing luxury facilities such as private libraries, swimming pools and mini-bars.
It isn’t only developers and large student accommodation managers who are moving towards a better standard of student accommodation. Private landlords are trying to keep up with the competition, through acts such as supplying WiFi and tidying up outdoor communal areas. Gone are the days of leaving student houses to degrade, whilst knowing that students will continue to live there and pay good rent for it. An increase in standards and renovation doesn’t mean less profit. It means a short term outlay in return for being able to offer high quality accommodation, potentially at a slightly better price.
So will luxury accommodation become the norm for the UK’s students? We are still a long way from that point, but trends suggest the market is moving in that direction. It is important that developers and landlords don’t get caught cold and left behind.