International students make up a significant proportion of the UK university population. Of 2.2 million students, 19% are overseas students. The majority of these are from outside of the European Union and in 2015/16 there was a 2% increase in the number of students coming to the UK from overseas.
How important is this sector in the long term?
Trying to predict longer term trends in the numbers of international students who will come and study in the UK is quite difficult. Changes in the visa rules in the short term and the longer term implications of the UK leaving the European Union may be significant. However, at the same time, the current Government is aiming to increase the value of the country’s educational exports to £30 billion by 2020. This can only be achieved by maintaining Britain’s status as the second most popular destination in the world for International students.
Accommodation for International Students
Currently international students represent a large pool of potential tenants for landlords and agents that specialise in the student market. With over 400,000 currently in the UK the numbers are significant.
Recent research from UK Guarantor highlights a particularly attractive feature of international students from a landlord perspective. Their property search cycle is different to that of domestic students. Domestic students tend to look for their post Halls accommodation between November and February, while International Students have a longer search, looking for property as late as August. This is particularly handy if you have missed the core letting season and are anxious to let before term starts.
What are International Students Looking For?
UK Guarantor recently surveyed over 500 internationals students to better understand what they are looking for from their accommodation. In common with their domestic counterparts, most International Students that have had some experience of studying in the UK, think the best option for a new student is to live in University owned Halls of Residence, as part of the orientation into student life. Outside of this International Students are pretty open minded about their accommodation choices.
Our research indicated that shared housing appeals to 40%, private halls to 20% and around 10% are looking for a flat or an apartment. Within this, the key criteria is location. Around 80% of international students live within a 20 minute walk or short bus journey away from their student home. While proximity to University is important, a quality bus route can mitigate this requirement to some extent.
Landlords and Agents
UK Guarantor research indicates that 82% of landlords and agents currently let to international students or would consider letting their property to International Students. This is a favourable response given that over 50% felt the new right to rent regulations hindered their ability to let their property to International students. This reflects the attractiveness of these students as good, reliable tenants, the majority of whom (60%) are studying hard to further their career prospects (60%) and experience living overseas (24%).
Smoothing the way to success
Traditionally one of the key barriers to renting your property to international students has been Guarantors. Most international students are unable to provide a valid guarantor, primarily because their parents or family members do not tend to be UK based. In the past 70% of landlords and agents would ask for all or some rent in advance if the student was unable to provide a valid guarantor. This scenario could be quite off putting for a student, particularly at the start of the academic year when there are significant demands on the student pocket.
Our rental guarantee scheme – UK Guarantor – enables International students to access a low cost, valid guarantor, so that they can pay their rent in instalments and you can relax in the knowledge that you have robust arrangements in place if there are any issues with the tenancy. Contact us today if you would like to join our rental guarantor scheme.