A report recently released into the UK student accommodation market highlights the challenges that face both designers and marketers of student accommodation in meeting the needs of an increasingly diverse international market.
The full report, Future Proof: meeting the diverse needs of international students, was released by GSL and CUBO and is available to download via the CUBO website.
The report highlights that while international students moving to the UK and Ireland have similar high-level search criteria as domestic students, there are distinct differences between nationalities when it comes to other priorities.
Across all cohorts, the top search criteria consistently include:
- Travel time to study
- Condition/quality of accommodation
- Safety and security
However there are many areas where significant differences are apparent. For example, international students are more than twice as likely as domestic students to prioritise living on their own (51% vs 25%), but this figure is even higher (60%) for Chinese students.
Kitchens are another area where priorities differ with 70% of Indian students making kitchen size and facilities a priority in their search compared to just 59% of domestic students, highlighting the importance of food culture to many.
Flexible contracts are naturally a higher priority for most international students moving to a new country, and communal spaces also tend to be seen as more important, particularly for Indian and Nigerian students (48% and 41%) compared to Chinese (35%) or UK/Irish home students (34%).
The report goes into much greater detail on the distinct needs and expectations of different international cohorts, but also explores how different facilities impact their experience once in the accommodation.
As the report’s authors put it, “There is no such thing as an international student”.