Congratulations or commiserations to all the A-level students opening their results this morning. It's never quite as bad or as good as you think. I'm yet to become a French Politician after my French and Politics degree but I'd recommend the experience for sure.
This year is going to be a tough one for many students. Here's why...
There is a lack of quality student accommodation options in cities like Glasgow, York, Edinburgh, Bristol, Durham, St Andrews, Bath and more. Some Universities have already repealed their accommodation guarantee for first year undergraduates. This means that students are left isolated by over-subscribed universities which has a detrimental impact on their student experience.
In each of the above locations where the University accommodation is full, the #PBSA (Purpose-Built Student Accommodation) is also full or out of price range for some students. This forces the student into #HMO (House of Multiple Occupancy) student housing (your typical 5-10 bed student digs) owned by private landlords.
Some HMO stock is perfectly suitable for students, however this late in the leasing season, that stock has usually gone and students often resort to living in unsuitable housing, in unsuitable locations, exposed to rogue landlords and even more exposed to the cost of living crisis.
Thanks to #COVID and the war in #Ukraine the energy crisis has hit home. In University Halls or PBSA, the uni or the investor is footing the bill for the increase in utility bills . Some are looking at implementing 'fair use policies' but that'll be tricky to manage. In HMO, the students are exposed to the huge rise in utility bills predicted over this year because the bills are separate from the rent. So there is security in booking with the Uni or PBSA, if you can find a room that is...
However this Cost of Living Crisis will affect every student relying on finance to fund their studies. Maintenance loans for students from England will rise by just 2.3 per cent over the next academic year, well below current forecasts for inflation to hit 12 per cent in the autumn.
There is no moral to this story. It's just going to be incredibly hard to be a student this year. Particularly in cities with over-subscribed universities and undersupplied student housing markets.
They'll need more part time jobs, more financial support, more payment flexibility and more mental health support.
The whole student eco-system has a role to play. This is an opportunity to put all those student wellbeing initiatives to the test. I hope the PBSA industry leads by example.