The student housing crisis has hit an all-time high, leaving students scrambling to try and secure somewhere to live next year or face the possibility of homelessness. Our research shows that one in three students have admitted to facing housing insecurity during their studies and over 60,000 students are currently living in hotels or Airbnbs without a permanent place to call home.
Here’s everything you need to know about the housing crisis and where you can turn to help if you’re struggling.
We took to the streets to talk to students and the public about the issue:
What’s happening with student accommodation?
Due to the cost of living crisis, rent prices are hitting an all-time high across the UK and the lack of affordable accommodation available has caused a huge surge in the demand. However, it’s not just drastic rent increases that are impacting students, as many are finding that there is simply just not enough accommodation for the number of students studying in each university town or city, forcing students to compete with one another just to secure somewhere to live.
With 34% of students revealing that they’re not confident that they’ll be able to afford their rent over the next year and one in ten students admitting that their rent had gone up after choosing somewhere to live, it’s a really challenging time for students across the UK.
Why isn’t there enough accommodation?
When COVID first began there was a huge surge in students who were due to start university in September 2020 opting to defer, or for students to put off applying for university until there was a clearer picture of what was happening in the world and when we’d be out of lockdown.
Because of this, since the UK has been restriction-free there has been a higher number of students applying for university courses, and with university now being more accessible to all social classes along with record numbers of A-level students getting the highest grades, more and more people are opting to go to university than ever.
Universities have been accepting more students than they have the capacity for, meaning there is just simply not enough accommodation available for everyone. 81% of the students we spoke to who faced the possibility of homelessness said that their universities did not do enough to support them while they were struggling to find somewhere to live.
Unfortunately, the lack of available accommodation paired with the rising rent costs of the available affordable accommodation has meant that students are left staying in hotels, sleeping on their friend’s sofas or commuting long distances to get to uni.
What’s it like for students studying right now?
Understandably this is a really scary and difficult time for a lot of students who are struggling to find somewhere to live for the next academic year.
Susan who is doing a physicians course at UCLAN said “I have to travel either 100 miles round trip or sofa surf as the university has very limited accommodation in a shared property which is very expensive.”
Meanwhile, Bunmi a student at Birmingham University City said “Like many other international students I arrived in the UK without being able to secure accommodation. All the one’s on the schools website were fully taken and other agencies either wanted me to view the property physically or provide proof that I had a job offer in the UK. I ended up renting an Airbnb to avoid being homeless.”
What needs to change?
One of the biggest factors impacting the student homelessness crisis is the lack of available accomdoation due to universities over subscribing its courses. Universities need to be held accountable for this, and take action to rectify this issue before it becomes a yearly occurance.
Unfortunately the rental market is incredibly competitive right now due to the cost of living crisis, and there’s very little that students can do about landlords increasing their rent and letting agents being shady and unethical in how they choose to rent.
Many non-students are opting to sign 2 or 3 year contracts for housing to avoid the risk of their rent increasing, and people are even bidding or offering over the advertised rent price. The practice of bidding on rent is one that needs to stop, as this is only showing landlords how much people are willing to offer out of desperation, and in turn forces the rent prices up and other landlords in the area will follow suit.
However, although bidding is making the situation worse, it’s one that can’t be helped for many people, as in cities like London it’s currently the only way you can actually secure somewhere to live.
If you are facing homelessness or struggling to find somewhere to live, here’s a resource of where you can turn for help and support.