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FUTURE LIVING

Chinese Student Preferences

Frederick Leclercq, Uhomes. Uhomes is a global long-term booking platform in China.
It’s no secret that student housing providers love having Chinese students. They generally pay quickly and in full, sleep early, don’t drink a lot and rarely have complaints. So, then the important question is: what are Chinese students looking for when they choose their student accommodation?

TOP 5 Chinese Student Destinations

Source: UNESCO

  • UK
  • Germany
  • France
  • Italy
  • Sweden
Budget

China just surpassed 800 million internet users, adopting the internet more broadly and in more depth than any other country in the world. In our industry, this means that students can be incredibly well informed about the student accommodation market, and often are informed about budget before booking. Students heading to London, for example, will know from simple online searches and forums that circa £250/week is a workable budget for the capital. The notion that Chinese students have bottomless pockets for rent is dispelled, as they often adhere to this budget. We are seeing more Chinese students willing to find private landlords than in previous years, often as a direct result of their insights on budget. 

Whilst students are able to get a clear idea of budgets and housing options from the world wide web, more specific details are harder to come by. London – to continue the example – has a huge number of universities, many different areas, and a myriad of accommodations. This means that students may well have a very strict budget they can stick to, but they need assistance in finding the accommodation that suits their university and other needs.

En-suite is King

Not sharing a bathroom is probably the biggest requirement we have found for a Chinese student (As an interesting side note from the author of this articles: he moved to China to study and showered in a giant room with more than 100 other students). Across the UK, 87% of all Chinese students want to live in a room that has its own bathroom. Within this, more than 80% would prefer an en-suite room over a studio. 

The notion that Chinese students have bottomless pockets for rent is dispelled by the often strict adherence to this budget. We are seeing more Chinese students willing to find private landlords than in previous years, often as a direct result of budget questions
Room Size

Rooms in student accommodations are notoriously small. Our exit interviews show that more than two thirds of Chinese students were surprised at just how small their room was. It could be however, that the sizes of rooms for student accommodation are following the mobile phone trend – getting smaller and smaller and smaller, before getting larger. Since Chinese students are more concerned with the room itself rather than communal facilities, rooms could become larger by sacrificing communal areas that often get little use.

Facilities

As mentioned above, the driving factor for Chinese students is the room itself, studying plays are large role in this. Masters students in particular require peace and quiet to make the most of their, undeniably, expensive education. Quiet corridors or masters-only corridors are increasingly popular. A spacious room and a reasonably sized desk feature highly on the list of a Chinese student needs, as well as the possibility to study in designated study areas.

Whilst apartment facilities are not generally a key consideration over the room itself, there is one facility that gets a lot of attention: a gym. 67% of all bookings listed this as a requirement, despite only 35% of all UK student accommodations having a fitness centre.

The size of rooms for student accommodation could be following the mobile phone trend – getting smaller and smaller and smaller before getting larger. Perhaps as space is sacrificed from communal areas that often get little use, especially from Chinese students whose requirements focus on the room itself over and above the communal facilities
Universities

The university a student goes to plays a huge role in what accommodation is chosen. The premise for this is incredibly simple: the closer to the university the better. Our research finds 30 minutes as a benchmark for travel time, by foot or by public transport, so location does not always need to be within a stone’s throw of the university itself. Prospective students may need some explanation on transport as to the benefit of certain bookings. For example, where despite the greater distance from the university, the easier and faster transport links make option B more attractive than option A. 

Undoubtedly, we are able to see that certain universities are more popular than others. This is as much to do with the importance of reputation within China as anything else. But across the UK certain universities may surprise you as popular destinations to study. The numbers will tell you the current number of Chinese students, but if you only look at these numbers you will always be one year behind the trend. University plans and incentives including scholarships are just as important to future demand.

Case Study 
Studio Couples: How do you define a couple? 

A question: how do you define a relationship, or more specifically a couple? It is normal for Chinese people, and girls in particular, to share a double bed in a room when renting a property. However, one student provider found this violated their policy of only allowing couples to share studios. It raised some serious questions for the provider. Firstly, how do you define a couple? Secondly, can you ask a couple about the intimacies of their relationship? And thirdly, is it ethical to ask people about how their relationship works and deny them a studio room if it does not fit your definition of what a couple should be…

For student accommodation providers, it is worth clarifying your policy, and making sure it is very obvious to potential tenants just exactly what the definition of a couple is.
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