Industry Updates as They Happen: A Resource Hub for PBSA, Coliving and Higher Education in European University Cities

Radar Roundup

MARKET: Colliers CEO predicts post COVID-19 global real estate investment recovery to be sharper and faster than the 2008 crisis. 

LATEST: After Airbnb recently secured $1bn in funding, sources suggest the company is paying a steep 10% interest.

NOTEWORTHY: Studyportals has launched a free COVID-19 dashboard for the higher education sector to offer data about international study interest.

ALSO: The Collective has launched The Collective Virtual Experiences initiative, available to all to stay connected, entertained, inspired and healthy.

IN OTHER NEWS: GCP has backed off the acquisition of the 412-bed Scape Mile End Canalside in London.

TIME TO REVISIT: Research done by Times Higher Education in 2016 showed that students from public and private universities felt less engaged by blended learning. Have universities learned how to blend properly since?

QUOTABLE: “Extreme conditions often clarify what otherwise is vague or uncertain… as the wave of COVID-19 subsides, I believe there will be a greater need for intimacy within communities,” ODA founder Eran Chan writes.

CASE STUDY: A Belgian student accommodation provider has established a fund to pay 75% rent and utility costs of now struggling students.

VIEW FROM HERE: American dormitories making room for hospital overflow face backlash from students.  


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OUTLOOK: Student accommodation is resilient to this crisis and transaction volumes will increase in the second half of 2020, predicts Savills’ Director of Operational Capital Markets Aurelio Di Napoli.

INSIGHT: StudyPortals uses student sentiment data to craft guidelines for organisations currently communicating with current and prospective students. 

MARKET: Unite Group PLC reports a 2.2 % drop in portfolio value despite 2020/21 reservations remaining in line with last year’s figures.

WATCH THIS SPACE: In the midst of an onslaught of cancelations due to travel restrictions, Airbnb has raised $1 billion in debt and private equity as it shifts focus to long term stays (including student accommodation).

LATEST DECISION: Three UK universities have made hundreds of lecturers, researchers and support staff redundant.

CLOSER LOOK: Facing likely reductions in international enrollment, Australia and The UK take stock of the influence of international students on their economies and campuses.

BIG PICTURE: UNESCO reports that school and university closures have impacted 91% of the world’s student population.

QUOTABLE: “Yale is a rich institution. A large number of education centers face the same emergency with dramatically lower resource availability. Hundreds of thousands of students risk a reduction in the acquisition of human capital due to the lack of internet access, or due to a lack of technical and professional assistance that make online education a valid substitute for traditional education.” Yale professor Fabrizio Zilibotti writes.

NOTEWORTHY: To ease the transition to a new higher education landscape, Santander Universities and the IE Foundation have launched a fund aim to provide 15,500 digital scholarships to educators, university students and young professionals.

ASSESSMENT: Students in Spain and The UK have indicated that they prefer to avoid face-to-face evaluation through the summer.


Student accommodation industry confirms anticipation of a long recovery and speculates on the future of higher education post COVID-19

Following the first industry survey which captured a snapshot of The Class of 2020 partner operator sentiment on the student accommodation industry two weeks ago, the questions were extended to the wider student accommodation industry stakeholders within The Class of 2020 network. There were 150 respondents representing Operator/Developers (34.9%), Advisors (16.9%), Suppliers (14.5%), Investors (13.4%), Academia (11.6%) and Other (8.7%), predominantly in Europe.

“It seems this current crisis may have a more lasting impact on higher education, which, in turn, may significantly impact the physical footprint/portfolio of many universities – or at least their pipelines. I wouldn’t be surprised if online and digital/remote education interest permanently increases after COVID-19.” says one survey respondent.


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CLOSER LOOK: UK Higher education industry experts predict university survival will depend on exposure to international market, with those attracting 25% or more from overseas at the highest risk. One research university predicts they will see a 40% drop in applications from China for 2020/2021.

REMARKS: While European and US coliving executives say they are feeling short-term pain, they maintain long-term confidence in the housing model.

VIEW FROM HERE: Coliving operators in Hong Kong are offering 50% discounts to combat significant (and persistent) drops in occupancy.

DILEMMA: Move online or bank on postponement? Language schools and education agencies weigh short and long term options.

ANOTHER ANGLE: While the German language study sector has come to a complete standstill in the crisis, experts think some part of the summer income can still be saved.

CASE STUDY: Czech university halls of residence offers remote check-out and belongings storage at discounted rate for students restricted from retrieving belongings.

RETRACTED: Having faced global criticism, the Australian government confirms support for some international students.

ELSEWHERE: The Polish Secretary of State at the Ministry of Science and Higher Education writes an encouraging letter to international students.


Radar Roundup

LATEST DECISION: Thirty Spanish universities have announced they will not return to face-to-face classes this academic year, despite Andalucian students reporting their universities are not ready for online tuition.

ELSEWHERE: The German summer semester will still go ahead and application and admission deadlines for the winter semester will be adjusted to reflect the changed exam times, the science ministries of the federal states have agreed. The goal is to mitigate uncertainty by making all summer courses available digitally.

PREDICTION: International higher education experts suggest the post-pandemic outlook will be bleakest for the poorest, as research universities and top-quality institutions that are globally recognised and have stable income streams will emerge “relatively unscathed” from the crisis.

QUOTABLE: “Things won’t change as much as they will accelerate. While other crises reshaped the future, COVID-19 is just making the future happen faster.” NYU Professor Scott Galloway anticipates the transformation of one of the last bastions not yet disrupted by big tech.

VIEW FROM HERE: The Australian prime minister receives criticism over his statement to international students that while it is lovely to have guests in good times, they should “go home” as the country needs to focus on its own citizens now. Accused of neglecting the two-way street of higher education, the government now faces heightened pressure to include international students in government assistance programs.

ZOOM IN: Despite significant challenges, international students in The Netherlands are supported by collaboration between student unions, universities, the ministry of education and other stakeholders.

MARKETS: Savills Global Market Sentiment Survey reports an overall fall in transaction volume of 62%. However, more countries reported no change in residential, including multifamily, student and senior (56%), than a fall (42%).

REMARKS: President of the EAIE Board delivers an open letter from EAIE to the European Commission, applauding the commission on the steps taken so far and issuing an appeal for continued action across six key areas.

AT RISK: While many struggle to get back to families from their study destinations, Chinese students are at risk of severe racism and discrimination.


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Remarks: The Chief Executive of Universities UK calls for government support given top-end prediction of 20% drop in average university income next year.

Markets: The Dutch construction sector is looking at a third crisis in twelve years, with investment in residential anticipated to drop 20%.

Closer Look: 46% of students in ‘consideration and research’ phase of study abroad planning reported their plans have changed, according to early QS survey data.

Latest Decision: iQ Student Accommodation updates it’s policy on rental contracts, allowing residents to terminate tenancy agreements until April 9th 2020.

View from here: While China and South Korea begin to re-open, universities remain closed and entrance exams are postponed.


Radar Roundup

– Even this crisis may drive demand for higher education
– 86% of Chinese students abroad report they want to return home
– Following last week’s ban on evictions, the Dutch government allows the extension of temporary rental contracts
– International students in Norway face financial challenges
– Over 500 students remain in university-owned residences in the North of Portugal
– Portuguese polytechnic universities consider postponing payment of tuition fees, universities have not yet


Radar Roundup

– The Federation of Education and Language Consultant Associations gives an update on the impact on their markets
– Empiric Student Property considers waiving student rents and prepares by strengthening cash position
– Cushman & Wakefield outlines 10 considerations in approaching lease renegotiation and rent reduction
– UK universities stepping up in responding to COVID-19
– American study abroad organisations report more struggles, but commitment to their missions
– Irish Government Offers Unemployment Payment for International Students
– European Commission provides clarity on Erasmus+ grant concerns
– High school exams canceled in The Netherlands
– A semester like no other, higher education experts weigh in on the situation at universities
– UK universities fast-track financial assistance for international students
– A training course for teachers on anxiety and stress management is under development in Italy
– Uncertainty on the impact on study abroad programmes next academic year


Italian Ministry of Education allocates 85 million euros to the further development of digital education

In order to further improve the long-distance learning for Italian students, the Italian Education Ministry has allocated 225,900.67 euros for the endowment or enhancement of digital platforms and tools for distance learning and 1,583,969.23 million euros for less well-off students. Gianluca Vacca, head of the Culture and Education Commission in the Chamber, states “I am particularly proud of my colleagues who in these difficult moments, on the field, are showing dedication and professionalism. In fact, according to a survey by the Ministry of Education, school institutions have managed to involve around 94% of students. A fact that is not taken for granted and which makes us reflect on how valuable both teachers and students find the growth and training. We will get out of this difficult moment with the awareness that even in the most difficult situations, the Italian school does not stop!” As momentum towards the shift to virtual learning intensifies, its endurance looks more likely.


Political party joins students in the call to waive rents – the public sentiment is likely to follow

The pressure on student accommodation providers to waive rents continues, with individual students, student unions and now politicians such as Scotland’s Green party education spokesperson calling on PBSA providers to follow the decision of Unite Student in waiving fees for students forced to vacate tenancies. Students in Canada and the UK are circulating petitions to waive student accommodation rents. In Ireland, the Student Union puts particular pressure on student accommodation providers to refund rents. It is highly likely that public sentiment will head in the same direction. While The Class of 2020 praises Unite’s bold decision in supporting its students, attention should also be paid to individual student accommodation provider’s situations as their relationship with their university partners, business model, financial structure and rental policies are diverse and could impact the way and speed with which they are able to rise to this challenge and respond to changing demands.


Leiden and Maastricht commit to online-only until September

The universities of Leiden and Maastricht will remain closed to all physical education until September. For the rest of the academic year, lectures and workshops will be given at a distance. This in order to foster stability for their students and staff. For traditional universities this may be a possibility but for other types of education such as applied universities or vocational schools this is a more complex decision. As more universities across Europe commit to moving regular courses online and cancel summer schools entirely, the summer looks long and empty for university campuses.


International students in France report anxiety and chronic stress

For the international students who remain in France, Le Monde reports a somber situation as they struggle with isolation and sometimes not being able to return to their home countries. Florence Robin, student psychiatrist specialist states that this new context generates anxiety and chronic stress. Young people find themselves in deserted residences without social interaction. The situation worsens when dealing with pre-existing psychological disorders. For student accommodation operators, serving students need for community and support services in the context of social distancing remains a challenge.


International student recruitment expert sees 5 changing trends in internationalisation

In a piece for University World News, international university recruitment expert Marguerite Dennis predicts that COVID-19 will force universities to rethink their reliance on China for overseas students and will prompt more students worldwide to study closer to home. As countries question an over-reliance on China for their product supply, Dennis predicts that so too will universities recognise a vulnerability in relying too much on a single region for students. At the same time, Dennis predicts an acceleration of the existing trend of more Asian students looking to study abroad within Asia with the rise of Malaysia as a popular intra-regional study destination. A US survey done last week by consultants Art & Science Group supports this, finding that two thirds of prospective US students surveyed worry the pandemic compels them to change their top choice university to a less expensive university closer to home. Other residues from the pandemic include a wider role for online recruitment, working and learning.


Experts predict “prolonged acceleration” in the adoption of technology-enabled learning in higher education

While universities have focused on moving this semester’s teaching online as quickly as possible, experts are also looking to the long term. According to The PIE, the March HolonIQ survey of over 700 global higher education professionals last week revealed that over 50% of higher education institutions expect to be worse-off in the long-term, while 58% of tech providers expect a positive long-term impact. UK Chair of International Policy network Professor Sir Steve Smith told the Universities UK Higher Education Forum last Tuesday that higher education will be “changed forever” by this crisis given the financial impact on the global middle class and the adoption of online methods. Dr. David Lefevre, director of the EdTech lab at Imperial College London and founder of Insendi, provided a nuanced view of the road ahead for higher education in an editorial for Times Higher Education, calling for a three-stage process in the university transition to online provision. “It seems reasonable to assume that the current crisis will lead to a prolonged acceleration in the adoption of technology enhanced learning across higher education. There will be a proportion of both faculty and students who have found themselves well suited to the current enforced remote teaching format,” Dr. Lefevre told The Class of 2020 on March 27th.


The UK follows the EU in confirming visa extensions for international students affected by the COVID-19 outbreak

The UK government has announced that all international students unable to return home due to travel restrictions will benefit from a visa extension until the 31st of May. To streamline the process, a dedicated COVID-19 immigration team has been established to handle the applications. For international students stuck in the Schengen area, the European Commission has confirmed they can extend visas for up to 90 days. The EU visa rules provide them with the right of extended stay due to ‘’force majeure.’’ For Erasmus + students stuck abroad, the ESN states both international students and universities affected are additionally advised to enquire about the ‘’force majeure’’ clause in the Erasmus + Mobility Agreement. Universities will have to liaise with agents and other involved parties to resolve matters such as refunds of extraordinary costs and the continuation of the Erasmus + programme.


Operators Bracing for Impact on the Next Academic Year

First student accommodation sentiment data released by The Class of 2020. Around 76% anticipate one semester or longer to return to business as usual. In-house student/resident wellbeing (76%) top priority but securing cashflow already a major concern (59.26%). Industry calls for the government’s financial support.


2020/2021 international student mobility faces more uncertainty as visa application processes halt worldwide

According to reporting by The PIE, travel restrictions issued by many countries have been escalated to stopping visa services altogether. Visa processing services have shut down for many EU countries including popular study destinations Ireland, Denmark, France, Finland, Switzerland, Belgium and the US. The earliest available online appointment for a student visa for the US in Beijing is currently November 29th, 2020. Given the processing time for many visas, extended closures could have significant impacts on 2020/2021 enrolment.


Emergency funding for international students among initiatives pursued by German higher education organisations

In the absence of clear government measures to support German students, key higher education organisations have devised proposals to help students facing financial hardship and difficulties taking exams and accumulating credits. The German Rector’s Conference (HRK) has proposed the summer semester of 2020 be included as a regular part of studies or qualifications. The German National Association for Student Affairs (DSW) have called on the government to provide students facing job loss with swift financial support. The German Academic Exchage Service (DAAD) has pointed to the precarity of international students, proposing transitional allowances for international students who have lost part time work. While Germany has become increasingly attractive for international students with around 100,000 new enrolments from outside the EU each year, DAAD has repeatedly drawn attention to the high drop-out rates among this cohort. The measures introduced in this crisis may prove critical to Germany’s status as a popular destination for international study.


Blended living providers step up to support tenants and communities

In the UK, Student Roost and Unite Students are waiving rents for students wishing to return home early. Unite also announced it will offer free accommodation to International students unable to go home due to travel bans. The LABS Collective is supporting the medical response by providing free coliving rooms for healthcare professionals active in nearby London hospitals and by opening coworking and event spaces to serve as common areas to serve those on the frontline 24/7. In Spain, AI-enabled room rental platform Badi Homes is offering 400 rooms to healthcare professionals that have traveled to Barcelona to provide care. In The Netherlands, Camelot Europe offers critical workers in need of rent-free micro-apartments for first month. Do you know of or are you a part of an inspiring initiative? Then let us know by sending us an email via


The Dutch Education Ministry’s higher education strategy includes the postponement of application deadlines, ease on application requirements and a call for leniency with student rent collection

In a letter following the Dutch Education Ministry’s meeting with universities and student unions, Minister Ingrid Van Engelshoven has announced measures including the cessation of physical activities such as exams, the delay of university admissions to 1 June, and delay of assessment of student’s first year progression until their second year. Students can continue to make use of the usual loan options and will not benefit from emergency funds, to the dismay of the National Students Association. Graduates are offered leniency if they cannot make loan payments in the coming period and those housing students are encouraged to do the same with rent. Universities will continue to receive funding, as their quality agreements for 2021 will be universally approved. No solutions were offered for the over 85,000 study abroad and international students in the country, with the responsibility to facilitate passed on to the universities and foreign affairs offices.


Nearly 75% of EAIE survey respondents characterize the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on student and staff mobility as somewhat or very significant

A report by the European Association of International Educators (EAIE) launched on March 24 entitled ‘Coping with COVID-19: International higher education in Europe’ highlights the severity with which the international higher education community in Europe has thus far been impacted by the ongoing crisis. At the time of survey, 73% of respondents reported impacts on the outbound mobility of students, while only 48% reported impacts on inbound student mobility, highlighting a timeline of events which has seen incoming students, visiting scholars and staff arrive on campuses in early 2020 only to face ‘chaos’, as Times Higher Education reports, as flights have been cancelled and borders closed in the past two weeks. The timeline for the resumption of activities remains unclear, with most respondents reporting their activities had been postponed (30%-40%) or cancelled (34%-38%), some reporting they had been shifted to new locations (21% outbound, 5% inbound), and only a fraction (7%-9%) replaced by virtual modes.


PBSA provider follows hotels in offering rooms for COVID-19 isolation

As hotel reservations plummet and hospitals hit critical capacities, thoughts have turned to the potential for hotel bed spaces to close the hospital bed gap. According to reporting on March 16 by hospitality magazine, The Caterer, Best Western Great Britain Group’s chief executive Rob Paterson has offered the NHS nearly 15,000 Best Western bedrooms as makeshift wards should they be needed. In the US, Globe St. reported on March 18 hints of a federal initiative permitting student accommodation operators with vacancy to do the same. Yesterday, Craig Carracher, executive chairman of Australia’s largest student accommodation provider, Scape, announced that Scape’s predicted drop in occupancy to as low as 55% could allow them to consolidate student residents and free up entire buildings for quarantine. Scape’s 7,000 bed portfolio is set to double with its recent acquisition of Urbanest.

#PBSA #Hospitality #Innovation

Only 4.7% of prospective study abroad students intend to cancel study abroad plans entirely, initial survey results find

The initial 2,500 results of’s ongoing survey of global student users has found that while students are feeling uncertainty, they are not jumping to cancel their study abroad plans, with the intention to postpone making up the majority of responses (43.1%). Of those currently studying abroad, more than 60% have not returned home early, either waiting to see how the virus impacts their host country or staying put long term. When asked whether they’d be interested in continuing their studies if their program were to be offered online, an impressive 68.2% of current study abroad students wish to continue in a virtual classroom. While COVID-19 may be complicating study abroad plans, the demand for international learning experiences persists.


Provada and LD Event Student Housing 2020 latest industry event postponements

Annual Dutch property fair Provada, previously scheduled for 16-18 June, will occur 4-6 November and, according to Property EU, will include a project development day in collaboration with Neprom, the association of Dutch project development companies. LD Events have also moved their annual Student Housing Event in London from 22 May to 22 September.


The UK government releases COVID-19 guidelines for College and University halls of residence

According to the new guidelines, which apply to both private and university managed halls of residence, when COVID-19 symptoms have been identified, the institution or building manager should consult with local public health authorities to identify the 14-day self-isolation requirements. Institutions or building managers are asked to design procedures to ensure self-isolating students can receive food and medicine required and take care of their mental and physical health. All students with Covid-19 symptoms should self-quarantine in their residence for at least 7 days. Students should only go home to isolate if they can do so without using public transport. For international students unable to return home, universities should ensure that private hall providers have a solution in place to prevent student from being evicted or made homeless.


Coliving operator opens doors to displaced students

US coliving operator, Common, has opened its doors to students who have been displaced from university accommodation in the seven cities it operates in. Recognizing that as campuses close students face challenges in securing housing, food, financial aid, health insurance and jobs, Common’s stated aim is to “make its housing options as accessible as possible for students who now find themselves without a home.” Changes to their leasing options include: free security deposit insurance, flexible lease terms (as short as 2 months) and a $500 Amazon gift card after signing a lease to help pay for extra supplies needed during the transition. They are making use of virtual tours and digital application processes.

#Coliving #Studentaccommodation #USA #Accessibility

Lenders hesitant for new PBSA and coliving financing, but anticipate a rebound in the second half of 2020

As COVID-19’s persistence in the global picture becomes clear and the economy reacts, an immediate question for European PBSA and coliving stakeholders is the availability of financing for new projects. Last week, JLL released, COVID-19: Global Real Estate Implications, which provides an initial assessment of the impact COVID-19 has across real estate sectors. The structural and demographic trends underpinning PBSA and coliving, however, signal that these projects can anticipate sector-specific scrutiny: How permanent are changes in living, working and learning? How will operators deal with new concepts of liability and risk? We’ve asked Andrew Hornblower, a director in JLL’s EMEA Debt and Structured Finance team based in London, to provide insight on the debt market for the PBSA and coliving sectors.


PBSA and coliving operators quick to adopt virtual initiatives for community and wellbeing

Student housing and coliving operators are acting swiftly to keep community alive for their residents in isolation. On Friday, March 20th, hybrid hospitality provider The Student Hotel launched a programme of virtual events hosted in properties around Europe but streamed online. Residents can choose from movie nights, talks, fitness classes and workshops. Maintaining focus on resident wellbeing has also been a priority. Student housing and coliving provider The Fizz has produced a guide for staying healthy and positive in quarantine. Given the clear conflict between blended living models USP of community and the requirements of social distancing, innovation in this space is surely on the horizon.

#TSH #TheFizz #Community #Wellbeing #Virtual

In an ultra-risky environment, institutional investors still see student accommodation as a tool for defensive portfolio diversification

As real estate players take stock of the short and long term impact of COVID-19, Isabelle Scemama, CEO of AXA Investment Managers-Real Assets told Property EU that AXA-IM had not pulled out of any deals and would continue a defensive strategy of diversification into alternative asset classes such as student housing and senior living in this extra high-risk environment.

#Alternatives #PBSA

Blended learning surges as universities move to online teaching

With travel bans and university closures, COVID-19’s disruption to higher education worldwide has been unprecedented. EdTech providers are rising to the occasion, offering free remote teaching tools and online platforms to help universities connect with students. As institutions and educators adapt and adopt quickly, this is starting to look like a defining moment for teaching and learning methods worldwide.

#BlendedLearning #EdTech #HigherEducation

Confusion as COVID-19 closes European universities

On Friday, March 20th, The UK joined continental counterparts in closing schools, colleges and nurseries—including cancelling final exams. Despite government advice that universities should remain open, most major UK universities have cancelled exams and classroom teaching. As they introduce a patchwork of policies, universities across Europe join US institutions in facing student criticism for a lack of support, advice and clarity on what the next six months holds for their higher education and housing. For higher education institutions, challenges last longer than six months, as delayed exams threaten September start dates and uncertainty calls into question 2020/2021 enrolment numbers.

#UK #HigherEducation #PBSA