Last week saw the community face a major blow when Cambridge University announced its decision to suspend in-person lectures and move most teaching online. The news ignited the student accommodation industry’s concerns and listed operators saw their shares drop by as much as 10%, demonstrating the extent of distress over the possibility that students will stay away this September. But what does this development really signal for the industry, outside of Cambridge?
Healthy Building Strategies: Changes for the PBSA and shared living sectors during and post COVID-19
We are aware more than ever how the places we inhabit have a critical role in our health and wellbeing. It is clear that buildings and spaces will need continual adaptation in the face of the crisis, and agility with be key in navigating this ever-evolving situation to support our everyday lives. Student accommodation and other collective living formats present particular challenges, given the management of high densities of people and the combinations of uses across living, work, and leisure. However there are many opportunities to both protect health and enhance wellbeing through strategies that acknowledge the complex relationship between physical and mental health, or the “body-mind” connection.
CLOSER LOOK: UCAS survey finds that 30% of UK full-time first-year students prefer to live in private purpose-built student accommodation, which is an 8% increase from 22% as it was five years ago. The study also found out that 40% of them prefer to live in uni accommodation options provided by their university. The remaining 30% of students prefer either private rented sector or at their parents’ homes.
IRELAND: The Irish Universities Association has called for a €20 million international student advertising campaign as a matter of urgency for the next government, as Ireland’s seven universities face a collapse in income due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
ELSEWHERE: The Australian New South Wales government has announced that it will fund temporary crisis accommodation for international students who are facing hardship due to Covid-19. The $20m relief package will include a temporary housing scheme and student support services.
THE NETHERLANDS: The University of Amsterdam (UvA) has announced all exchange programme and internships have been cancelled for the first semester of 2020/2021. They will make further announcements about next semester July 1st.
GERMANY: The rectors’ conference had opposed a rush to reopen universities. While welcoming the reopening of society, HRK President Peter-André advised against rushing into extensive classroom teaching.
FINLAND: Universities in Finland are preparing to increase admissions and accept more students during the current application period to stem rising youth unemployment.
UK: The UK’s regulatory body the Office for Students has warned that UK higher education providers should not promise in-person teaching in September.
SPAIN: The Spanish government has softened the academic requirements for scholarships and increased higher education funding by 22%, according to El Pais.
LATEST: Visa application issues could stop students reaching universities, according to The PIE. Processing centres for Canada, the US, Australia and the UK are closed in many countries. Combined with delays in accessing panel doctors for medical checks, closed English testing centers and banks closed for financial verifications, many experts predict it will be difficult for some international students to reach universities in September.
VIEW FROM HERE: Trump rebukes US officials warning against reopening campuses in the fall. In a conference call last week organised by the White House coronavirus task force, 14 college and university presidents told US Vice President Mike Pence that they are more likely to reopen their physical campuses if they can be protected from lawsuits if students get sick.
UK: The UK’s oldest university towns are being hit hard by a “double whammy” of lost tourism and student contributions to their local economies.
ALSO: Latest National Code guidance provides advice on arranging for students to pick up remaining belongings and further guidance on rent payment obligations.
INSIGHT: As universities begin to make announcements about their 2020 plans, Inside Higher Education provides a snapshot of how their 15 predicted scenarios are playing out.
LATEST: In a sale in excess of AUD 2.1 billion, the largest ever student accommodation transaction in Australia, Evergreen, M3 Capital Partners (M3) has sold its 7,402 bed Urbanest Australia Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) platform. Savills advised the deal.
CLOSER LOOK: UK Education Advisory Service service international student survey results find that prospective UK Autumn 2020 international students are waiting to see what happens in their own countries and in the UK before committing to studying overseas. In Thailand, 64% of students disagreed or strongly disagreed with starting the 2020 academic year as normal, compared to 44% of Ghanaians and 76% of Nigerians who agreed or strongly agreed.
SWEDEN: Despite the current uncertainties, applications from international students seeking to study degree courses in Sweden have increased by 12% on last year’s figures.
UK: Pressure on PBSA providers to relieve student rents continue.
ALSO: Developer Empiric Student Property has announced it has halted plans for three student accommodation projects as it seeks to protect cash reserves.
MEANWHILE: In Cork, Ireland, Future Generation’s plans for a 623 bed student block on a former Coca Cola plant are moving forward, with the scheme expected to be completed for the 2022 academic year.
IRELAND: As coronavirus continues to dramatically reshape how higher education systems operate, smaller destinations such as Ireland are commanding attention for their approach to supporting international students.
PORTUGAL: The current academic year in higher education may be extended until the end of July, the Government said this Thursday, announcing that face-to-face classes, when possible, can be given at night, on weekends and holidays
THE NETHERLANDS: The Municipality of Eindhoven has launched the Rental Team (Huurteam) Eindhoven pilot to make Eindhoven a hospitable student city. The rental team will, among other things, provide support and information on housing issues to (international) students, contribute to identifying and tackling undesirable rental situations and is a source of information for insight into student housing in Eindhoven.
Following the first, second, and third student accommodation industry sentiment surveys, we asked our industry stakeholders about financial considerations in this time of uncertainty. This survey focused on the current financial priorities in both student accommodation operation and investment with a short-term outlook of 6 months, during which the industry expects to see the rise of a ‘new normal’.
LATEST: US coliving operator Common unveils property brand geared towards workforce housing. The new product is called Noah — for “naturally occurring affordable housing.” The initial portfolio will be Class B and C multifamily buildings where renters earn 40 percent to 80 percent of the area median income, said Brad Hargreaves, Common’s CEO and co-founder.
GERMANY: Germany’s coalition government will provide emergency loans for students whose source of income is threatened by the coronavirus pandemic but who are not entitled to federal grants. Loans will comprise up to €650 (US$705) a month and will be available interest-free for German students up to March 2021. International students can apply for the loan as of July 2020.
UK: University students in England will still have to pay full tuition fees even if their courses are taught online in the autumn, the government has said. “We don’t believe students will be entitled to reimbursement if the quality is there,” universities minister Michelle Donelan said.
IRELAND: Given the severe drop in income expected due to the collapse in international student fees, as well as commercial revenues due to the current restrictions, universities are now reviewing recruitment, according to the Irish Universities Association.
NORWAY: Pointing to further education as a great alternative to unemployment, Norwegian universities and colleges have opened up to increase study capacity to include 4,000 extra study places this fall.
QUOTABLE: “Partner institutions can form an excellent stepping stone for students who are reluctant or unable to travel abroad to study. This can be in the form of blended learning, 1+3, 2+2, recognition, matriculation or any other form of arrangement that ensures that students have options.” Said Yusra Mouzughi, vice-chancellor of Muscat University, Oman speaking of how university partnerships could redress the international student decline.
VIEW FROM HERE: An Australian higher education emergency app used by student accommodation providers reports a surge in mental health related calls, with 91% of the calls it receives mental health-related since the crisis.
ALSO: As US Higher Education braces for a recession, latest state higher education finance report reveals that public higher education funding has not yet fully recovered from the 2008 recession. State funding nationwide is nearly 9 percent below pre-Great Recession levels and 18 percent below where it was before the 2001 tech bust. Per-student education appropriations increased 2.4 percent between fiscal 2018 and fiscal 2019, but 2019 marks the “likely end” to post-recession recovery funding, the report states.
INSIGHT: QS releases white paper detailing how recruitment teams from higher eduction institutions can engage students on the virtual student journey. According to the paper, to meet students where they are in the new virtual student journey, institutions should conduct an audit of all online content, utilize new online opportunities for data gathering, and learn to adapt accordingly. Tone, timing, data and assessment, being nimble and proactivity are among the strategies suggested. While aimed at recruitment professionals, many of these suggestions apply to all stakeholders looking to engage current and prospective students in this landscape.
LATEST: According to the results of a recent survey undertaken by international education specialist IDP Connect, 69 per cent of international students with current offers from universities surveyed expect to commence their studies as planned. Reassuringly, for the international education sector, only 5 per cent no longer expect to commence their studies.
QUOTABLE: “Even under nationalistic models, national success will depend on global collaboration for access to the best students, faculty and scholars. It is the right kinds of global collaboration that will result in cutting-edge opportunity and results that benefit all – the big guys, the little guys and in between.” Dr John K Hudzik, chair of the NAFSA Senior Fellows for Internationalisation writes for University Business.
UK: The UK government has announced a package of measures to protect students and the higher education sector from the impact of Covid-19, including admissions caps and funding.
IRELAND: Irish universities could lose out on up to €200 million in international student revenue next year – a “massive blow”, according to one of the sector’s experts.
ALSO: Dublin City University (DCU) has said it is reversing a plan to increase the cost of on-campus accommodation from September. This follows a similar decision by Maynooth University which announced in late April it would reverse a proposed 3 per cent rent increase and introduce a freeze.
THE NETHERLANDS: Dutch university students report challenges in online learning including struggling to raise questions in online lectures. Surveys by the Dutch Student Union have shown that 41 per cent agreed that the quality of their online education was good, while almost a third disagreed, and the rest were neutral. Those at universities of applied sciences reported more difficulties.
VIEW FROM HERE: One of the first countries to release specific data on student migration changes, immigration statistics in New Zealand report a 14.5 per cent drop in foreign student numbers since mid-March.
SHIFT: The Collective is considering reallocating rooms for long-stay use in order to make up for the loss of short-stay revenue. The co-living specialist’s short-stay business has been “severely impacted” by the lockdown but its longstay housing has proved more resilient with many residents remaining in their flats, according to an update from one of its lenders last week. To compensate for the loss of revenue, the lender, GCP Asset Backed Income Fund, said The Collective was in advanced negotiations to let one of its short-stay buildings for key workers and was considering reallocating short-stay rooms for long-stay use.
Last week our community discussed how student accommodation spaces might look and operate post-pandemic. As questions regarding the long-term form and future of internationalization continue, conversations revealed a willingness to think creatively, and the energy towards addressing evolving challenges is palpable.
In this game of “three-dimensional chess,” Nido student is focusing on the wellbeing of the Nido community. CEO Brian Welsh tells us their delivery of virtual events has been vital to securing student wellbeing in this challenging time (hint: “content is king, queen and bishop”) and calls for communication and collaboration among industry leaders.
WINNERS & LOSERS: International Hospitality Media CEO Piers Brown has predicted the urban living winners and losers in this crisis. Winners: coliving, prop tech, serviced apartments, real estate lawyers. Losers: hotels, hostels and short-term rentals. To be determined: student housing, coworking, planners.
UK: UK Education Minister rejects suggestions that the government will “pick and choose” which universities to support and reiterates that a relief package will deliver aid to the whole sector. Referring to the important role universities play in communities and the economy, he emphasised the importance of support for all universities.
CLOSER LOOK: Only 57% of US parents say they would continue paying for their children’s higher education if it were to continue as online-only in the fall, a Tyton Partners survey conducted throughout April has found. 35% have said they’re unsure how they will proceed. Unprepared instructors, inconsistent delivery and the missing student experience were cited among reasons for negative responses.
TREND: Hygiene and sanitation will become the top priority in the sharing economy, experts predict. Other trends will include demand for housing within proximity to workplace, a rise in acquisitions, and a rise in flexible real estate contracts.
VIEW FROM HERE: A panel of hotel industry experts at an April 29 webinar hosted by the Prague-based IDEEA Hotel Investment Forum predicted that post-COVID Europe will see risk come to the forefront of deal negotiations for the industry and that while leases will remain the go-to model for investors, there will have to be more balanced risk in management contracts.
ITALY: New government legislation specifies that for packages to countries where Italians aren’t allowed to land, Italians can withdraw from tourism and study abroad contracts. The travel organizer can offer the buyer a replacement package of equivalent or higher quality, can refund, or can issue a voucher, to be used within a year of its issue.
ALSO: Representatives from Italian universities characterise online learning as “essential” to resuming the next academic year and emphasize thee key role universities will play in developing economies following this crisis.
LATEST: China has threatened a possible boycott of Australian universities as bilateral tensions rise over Australia’s call for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus.
ALSO: Australia’s state government of Victoria, which ranks international education as its largest service export – has announced an emergency support fund of AU$45 million offering AU$1,100 for all struggling international students.
URGENT: Experts have warned that the UK Government needs to take urgent steps to ensure that visas for international students are not held up by the coronavirus outbreak. Visa application centers remain closed, which is sending the message to potential international students that they will not be able to get the visas they need to study in the UK.
MEANWHILE: Study abroad faces a new reality. With no clear timeline for putting students on planes again, study abroad providers face layoffs and uncertain futures. Some experts predict that study abroad providers more focused on discipline, over destination, will better weather the storm.
REMARKS: It is too early to predict the impact of Covid-19 on the recruitment of international students, the director of Universities UK International (UUKi) says, as she called on the government to help the sector remain globally competitive.
THE NETHERLANDS: Parliament will meet today to debate the position of students in this crisis. National student unions are joining forces to call for support for students financially struggling from the crisis.
AND: International graduates in The Netherlands are calling for extensions on their one-year job-seeking residence permits post-graduation but to the current challenge of finding a job.
IN OTHER NEWS: Despite banks taking a constructive approach to help struggling borrowers during the crisis, concerns are growing over a prolonged period of an economic slump. According to Property EU, real estate lenders fear their loan books will come under stress in Q3 2020 if the economic activity does not pick up.
LATEST: Spanish universities are planning a phased return as COVID-19 cases slow. The decision to reopen is delegated to the universities themselves, many of which are singling that they plan to phase in to the return of students and researchers to campus with the first phase beginning in June. This would likely mean the academic year would end in July and follow up work would occur in September. There would either be overlap, or a delayed start for the upcoming term.
QUOTABLE: The UK university sector was in the spotlight in the Financial Times’ weekend editorial, which argued “it would be an enormous blunder to let a temporary interruption in their revenue inflict permanent damage on this invaluable part of the country’s assets. The UK has a world-leading university sector. That needs to continue.”
GERMANY: As COVID-19 responses in Germany are praised, interest in studying in the country is growing, according to individual university recruitment departments and StudyPortals. While interest does not necessarily correlate with enrolment as many barriers to mobility remain, these observations align with predictions that government responses to this epidemic would contribute to choices of study destination.
ANOTHER ANGLE: Students are in dire financial straits, German universities warn. In a country where students are especially reliant on part-time jobs, the shutdown caused by the pandemic has devastated incomes and led to calls for government help.
CLOSER LOOK: The latest QS survey of prospective international students to the UK has found that only 6% of prospective students are aware of the extension of the post-study work visa from four months to two years. This measure has been recently cited as an important factor in attracting the international students higher education institutions rely on.
POLAND: The Polish Minister of Science and Higher Education said that there are currently no plans to delay the start of the next academic year.
INSIGHT: In Sweden, the numbers of applications to local universities are rising. According to the Director General of the University and University Council, this is likely due to the impact of the pandemic and the economic recession.
NOTABLE: US survey of 54 school-based college counsellors in China finds that 87% report that parents and students are reconsidering plans for studying in the US and are diversifying their choices of study destinations.
TREND: Virtual tours are becoming more widely used in the real estate sector, and some predict the current challenges will help bring these tools into the mainstream.
UPDATE: To address the evolving international student crisis in Australia, the Australian government plans to announce economic relief measures for international students on Wednesday. The past few weeks have seen students face severe economic hardship and the government receive worldwide criticism for its lack of assistance to the cohort which contributes significantly to the national economy.
UK: As international mobility for September 2020 remains uncertain, universities prepare to rely more heavily on domestic students. Universities UK proposes a numbers cap on university admission, but higher education experts worry it will not be enough to stop the most prestigious universities from ‘hoovering up’ domestic students.
VIEW FROM HERE: US Public Policy and Economic expert Christina Paxson writes for the NY Times that she is “cautiously optimistic that campuses can reopen in the fall, but only if careful planning is done now.” Serious changes to dormitory layouts, testing and isolation, blended teaching methods for large lectures, the use of masks and adjustments to social activities will be necessary, she asserts.
Monday update: As Autumn 2020 possibilities proliferate, PBSA providers innovate with their virtual offerings
Students crave human interaction and want to be in the classrooms and on the campuses in their chosen study destinations. Higher education and student accommodation operator representatives long to be face-to-face with their colleagues and engaging with their teams on the ground.
However, unfortunately, it remains unsafe to exit isolation across Europe, and we have been learning of incredible virtual platforms quickly launched by our community to fill the gap that ranges from cooking classes, professional development courses to DJ set livestreams made available (watch this space for a directory of partner initiatives). But the sense of cabin fever and the longing for the human touch has led us to wonder: might there be a resurgence in mobility once it is safe to do so? Are we headed towards a new “Roaring ‘20s,” where the virtual initiatives and partnerships strengthened and forged during this difficult time will be brought to “real life” with pent-up enthusiasm?
While the first and the second student accommodation industry sentiment survey focused on understanding the change of priorities in relations to necessary responses taken, supports they require during the pandemic and anticipated recovery period, the third edition addresses currently the most frequently asked question: what will happen to the next academic year?
LATEST: Health-focused universities ‘catapulted into the limelight’ as Covid-19 draws attention to the impact on universities in this current crisis. Universities worldwide report that the COVID-19 epidemic has drawn attention to the work universities do in their communities as experts and healthcare workers visibly make a difference. New rankings such as Times Higher Education’s Sustainable Development Goals ranking may become more influential as the pandemics impacts what students choose to study and where they study.
CLOSER LOOK: 90% of US Higher Education institutions used emergency distance education to complete Spring 2020 term, survey finds. Almost all institutions (97%) moving classes online had to call on faculty with no previous online teaching experience.
PREDICTION: Inside Higher Ed imagines 15 possible scenarios for the autumn semester, ranging from back to normal to fully remote.
QUOTABLE: “In this new environment, higher-ed institutions that are less in love with tradition and more in love with their students will be the ones that thrive.” Michael Sorrell, President of Paul Quinn College said during a virtual summit.
US: International students who have left the country report feelings of isolation and anxiety due to time differences and concerns about visa status. University efforts to reach out via social media and email have helped them understand what actions can be taken to alleviate pressures.
GERMANY: Coalition government is yet to reach agreement on supporting the many thousands of students facing financial hardship because of the lockdown measures
UK: Universities face loss of £2.5 billion with 30k jobs at risk, according to new report.
PORTUGAL: International students at the University of Lisbon ask for financial support for the disruption to this academic semester. The rectory says it does not intend to reduce tuition fees, individual institutions have begun creating emergency funds to support students.
LATEST: US higher education representatives fear that President Trump’s announcement of immigration suspension will send a negative message to students around the world looking to study in the US in September. NAFSA CEO Esther D. Brimmer said: “While we are awaiting an official executive order and do not yet know how the announced immigration policy will impact international students and scholars, we can unequivocally state that they are vital to the US economy.”
RELEASE: UK student accommodation provider Unite has issued a press release announcing they expect to forgo rent on around 43,000- 46,000 beds representing around 62-65% of all owned and managed beds and a £125m revenue hit on student rents. The release announces a number of cost saving measures including four-month salary reductions to the Board, Executive and Non-Executive Directors, and senior management as well as a suspension of bonus payments. The group has also pushed back its development pipeline by at least year.
INSIGHT: As many as 40% of recent travellers may wait six months or more after coronavirus containment measures end before they decide to fly again, according to a consumer survey commissioned by Iata, the global airline association. About 60% anticipate a return to travel within one to two months after restrictions are lifted. As many as 69% indicated they might delay a return to travel until their personal financial situation stabilises.
AUSTRIA: Restaurants, cafes, and some schools in Austria will re-open from May 15. Universities remain closed .
IN OTHER NEWS: Flexible workspace provider Tribes announced the launch of ‘corona-proof’ offices. Within one month, Tribes will transform all of its 23 branches in these countries into so-called ‘Blue Zone Offices’. Thermal body temperature cameras, automatic dispensers for facemasks, gloves and sanitizer and private workspaces are all integrated in the new concept.
DEBATABLE: Is online learning a short term fix or a threat to future fees? Experts are weighing in on the pandemic’s impact on university business models as well as whether the potential to reach more people will be offset by the pressure to cut fees.
IRELAND: Amidst conflict regarding high student rents in Ireland, Trinity College unveils plans for university accommodation with low rent designed in. Moving away from the en-suite style towards apartment-style accommodation will allow for significant rent reductions, a spokesperson claims.
UK: Tier 4 visa restrictions loosen. New guidance includes provisions that sponsors can self-assess whether students have met language requirements and relaxed attendance requirements. International higher education advocates express hopes that this will ease the way into future migration schemes which better balance the encouragement of educational exports against the need for security.
CLOSER LOOK: Erasmus Student Network Impact Report finds 37.5% of students experienced at least one major problem related to their exchange. The most common was related to the loss of transportation to return home, followed by problems with accommodation and problems with access to basic needs such as food and sanitary products.
NOTABLE: Student Living by Sodexo is providing virtual support programme for UK students in lockdown. The new virtual programme allows students to continue developing new life skills and gives them something to focus on whilst living in isolation through Facebook Q & A sessions, online exercise classes and a series of lessons ranging from Spanish to cookery and Salsa dancing.
BIG PICTURE: A survey of prospective Indian students looking to study overseas finds 70 per cent wish to continue their applications to study overseas.
ALSO: Singapore Press Holdings reports bookings to date for the 2020/2021 academic year are around 60 per cent, which is higher than this time last year. 65 per cent of the target revenue for AY20/21 has been achieved as a result of better-than-expected rental growth. SPH said the reduction in revenue from offering students the option of refunds if they left their tenancies early amid the Covid-19 crisis was about £4.5 million (S$8 million), at the lower end of the £4 million to £8 million range previously expected. Of the £4.5 million, over 20 per cent is in credits to students planning to return to their housing for the next academic year.
ACTION: The National Union of Students is calling for a student hardship fund of £60 million for all students currently in further and higher education in the UK, and the option for students to retake or be reimbursed for the academic year due to the disruption caused by Covid-19. Students and parents seek to put pressure on accommodation providers to waive rents through social media accounts. Students around the US are also organizing to demand tuition refunds from their universities.
UK: Scottish Minsters have begun preparing a bailout for struggling universities.
ALSO: The UK government has announced that international students employed in healthcare work are not confined to usual caps of 20 hours per week during term time.
NORWAY: International students from low-income countries are eligible for a government grant, but will need to write an essay on their experiences as International students during this time in order to receive it. The responses will assist in future planning for higher education.
USA: A number of universities consider cancelling in-person classes until 2021. Boston University is among the first to announce the likelihood of a closed campus in the fall, alongside ideas for re-imagining the campus once classes do open, including reconfigured classroom layouts and smaller class sizes.
LATEST: The first wave of government funding to US institutions will see $14 billion in grants distributed to colleges and universities.
VIEW FROM HERE: At least five US institutions and university students are facing class action lawsuits from students and parents demanding refunds for underused tuition fees and unused room and board.
QUOTABLE: “Even in a 1,000-student classroom, an instructor can sense if students are absorbing concepts, and can change the pace of the teaching accordingly. A student can sense whether they are asking too many questions, and are delaying the whole class. Is our technology good enough to accommodate these features virtually?” Vijay Govindarajan and Anup Srivatava comment on the future of virtual education in an article for the Harvard Business Review.
Last week, we saw the industry begin to shape a ‘new normal’ for the day-to-day, the next academic year, and beyond. We interviewed Jo Winchester, Executive Director in the Student Accommodation Valuation and Advisory Team at CBRE, to hear her anticipation of the duration of this crisis for PBSA and coliving.
In her words “I think COVID-19 is totally unprecedented. It feels worse than the financial crisis in some ways. The impact will be felt for a while.” While Jo expresses serious concern for the current situation, she has hope for a potential return to normalcy in the academic year 2021/2022.
CLOSER LOOK: How risky would an Autumn return to campus be? Cornell University sociologists estimate the average Cornell undergraduate student comes into contact with 500 other students per week in class alone. Data will be instrumental in university decisions regarding the next academic year.
FRANCE: Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron announces higher education institutions will remain closed until September.
PORTUGAL: Universities and polytechnic institutes have two weeks to prepare for the possibility of restarting face-to-face classes in early May, according to an order from the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education. Portuguese higher education institutions have the autonomy to define how they will reopen.
POLAND: Universities remain closed. But the higher education minister comments that should they reopen for this academic year, universities could shorten the summer holiday to compensate, at their discretion.
LATEST: A McKinsey report defines three potential epidemiological and public health scenarios for US higher education, outlining the implications for a resumption to face-to-face instruction as early as Autumn 2020 or as late as Autumn 2021.
VIEW FROM HERE: An American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers survey finds 58% of respondent US Higher Education institutions are considering or have decided to move to online learning in Autumn 2020. Additional scenarios include a move to single dorm rooms and cancelling all large lectures. Some institutions are already seeking opportunities to close or merge given the financial projections for such measures.
ELSEWHERE: International students in Australia report feelings of abandonment as they are stranded without available flights home, assurances of visa extensions or extension of financial support. Students also report heightened anxiety caused by racism. International students contribute $39bn to the Australian economy annually.
DILEMMA: As professors worldwide adjust to online teaching, many international students must adapt to unusual class times.
IRELAND: Anticipating an 80% drop in international students and a loss of hundreds of millions of euros, Trinity College Dublin announces recruitment freeze as part of a cost-saving strategy.
QUOTABLE: “We would also like to join the voices that have urged the global academic community to place humanity, ethics, sustainability, responsibility and care at the core of our thinking, planning and practice of education, of which international education is a part,” international educators Muhammad Adil Iqbal and Phan Le Ha write for University World News in response to continued concerns over international student wellbeing.
With all eyes on September 2020, last week saw the industry begin to imagine a ‘new normal’: for the day to day now, for the upcoming academic year and beyond. Close collaboration and understanding of the current needs of students and residents have helped the industry begin to shape priorities in planning.
CLOSER LOOK: Latest QS Global Higher Education Survey finds 53% of respondents worldwide say COVID-19 has impacted their plans to study abroad and 50% of institutions predict the pandemic will have a detrimental impact on the volume of student applications.
ALSO: As universities in the UK increase their attention on attracting local students, HEPO study confirms that living at home is the most popular option for local students in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, while shared flats and halls of residence are most common in England.
QUOTABLE: “One positive side-effect of the coronavirus crisis is that it has speeded up experimentation with alternative recruitment practices that don’t involve long-haul travel. A key factor in how soon an institution is likely to recover is how well it treats its current and prospective international students at this time of crisis.” says Dr Vicky Lewis, international education strategy and marketing consultant.
DILEMMA: Global universities struggle to engage fully with Chinese students given Chinese internet restrictions.
COMMUNITY: UK higher education sector launches #WeAreTogether campaign to highlight support for international students.
CLOSER LOOK: 27% of prospective Chinese students intend to cancel their study plans in the UK, British Council survey finds.
ELSEWHERE: Hungary reports a drop of 20,000 applications for higher education institutions this year.
NOTEWORTHY: The International Association of Language Centers has launched an online portal for agents and students, offering an overview of available language courses and the ability to directly book courses.
QUOTABLE: “If anything, there will be a rediscovery of how really special the traditional campus is,” US education historian John R. Thelin writes for The Chronicle of Higher Education.
LATEST DECISION: Students in The Czech Republic can return to universities next week for activities capped at 5 people.
LATEST: UK Universities prepare for a reduction in international students of between 80% and 100% with some prestigious names expecting to lose over £100m in the short term.
BIG PICTURE: With universities bracing for the financial impact of COVID-19, experts worldwide suggest structural changes to higher education.
ALSO: Portuguese universities are very likely to postpone the beginning of the next academic year.
ELSEWHERE: 56% of surveyed international students in Norway cannot pay their rent due to lost income.
REMARKS: A group of major English Language Teaching schools have written an open letter to education agencies explaining the industry is at risk.
TREND: While the real estate sector has historically been slow to adopt technological advancements, PropTech providers are seeing a huge surge in demand with the need for virtual touring solutions.
VIEW FROM HERE: US university finance expert Lucie Lapovsky suggests universities innovate in their summer offerings to encourage new student enrollments.
Monday Update: Primary focus on current cohort but eyes on the future for post-COVID-19 higher education
The results of our second industry sentiment survey published last week made it clear, if it was not already, that the student accommodation industry is preparing to see this crisis impact the first semester of 2020/2021. But beyond the timeline, our community has highlighted a perspective shift towards the future nature of higher education – Are we sure the current models will keep working? Will an increase in virtual learning lead to a different type of internationalisation in higher education? Will this set a trend for future mobility? – were among the questions raised in conversations last week.
Here we highlight some key findings from our conversations with our community last week to help shape priorities this week.
DIVIDED: France, Canada and New Zealand extend financial support measures to international students, while the US, UK and China refuse to do so.
DEBATABLE: Police fine students in the Amsterdam region for social distance violations, despite their shared household status in student accommodation.
NOTEWORTHY: Xior has issued its first debt capital markets transaction through a €100 million green US bond.
LOOKING AHEAD: As businesses scale back recruitment activities, 2020 graduates face a severely impacted job market. Recent studies show 68% of UK firms have canceled work experience and trial opportunities.
TIP: CUBO offers complimentary membership to UK and Irish Higher Education institutions for support amidst the Corona crisis.
This year’s Easter festivities will likely look a lot different from usual in shared living communities. A celebratory long weekend might be difficult for students and residents in isolation, especially for many international students who are away from family. We’ve been excited to hear how our partners are rising to the challenge of keeping community spirits up while practicing social distancing. From curated playlists to productivity tips, we are happy to highlight some amazing initiatives implemented by our partners.
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.
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.
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.
Monday Update: Universities and accommodation providers prepare for next academic year while helping students finish current semester online
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.
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.
– 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
“We should not forget that coliving spaces also offer a fundamental benefit, namely human support. I personally believe that residents of coliving spaces will be better off through the crisis,” says Gui Perdrix.
– 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 [Italian]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com.
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.
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.
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 educations.com’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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.