Housing Specification Blog

Premium tuition fees cause students to expect luxury flats

August 2, 2012 Alexandra Blakeman Housing Issues

This September thousands of students across the country will pay £9,000 a year to go university. Will the rise in tuition fees encourage a cohort of students who expect the very best from their first year accommodation?

A survey carried out earlier this year by Unite, a leading developer in purpose built student accommodation, showed that 42% of students expect accommodation to improve.

This year’s Unite Student Experience Report revealed that some soon-to-be students have very specific requirements for their first year digs.

The majority wanted their halls of residence to be modern and bright, with appropriate facilities in excellent condition. En-suites were also a popular request. Understandably, those surveyed prioritised security, but didn’t want to live by particularly strict rules.

Paul Harris, group director of strategy and corporate relations at Unite  said: “Even though our research has shown that today’s students are prioritising academic rigour over partying, expectations are equally high when it comes to the non-academic side of university life. Safe, clean and modern accommodation, as well as great sporting and social facilities, are hugely important to students.”

Exeter University, who will be charging the full £9,000 a year, are making significant improvements to their onsite accommodation, ahead of the new intake’s arrival in September.

Opal 1, the new student apartments at Exeter University.

Opal 1, the brand new living complex built by Ocon Property, is situated on the university’s main Streatham campus, within easy reach of the town centre and train station. The £7.2m development, which consists of four timber-framed buildings of three or four storeys, will provide living space for 219 students.

Knauf Drywall were asked to install their Brio dry floor boards into the Opal apartments eight weeks ahead of schedule. The sound proof flooring system was installed early to avoid any risk of delay to other trades. Developers for Opal 1 were keen to install sound proof flooring to ensure that noise disturbance is reduced between levels.

A luxury en-suite room in Opal 1 will set students back £87.22 per week, and a luxury studio room will cost £116.62 a week – that’s a princely sum of £466.48 a month. For their money, students are promised a high speed internet connection, Sky television, 24/7 accommodation management service and VIP student services.

Living space in Opal 1 apartment

VIP student services include:

  • Bedroom cleaning service
  • Laundry service
  • Airport chauffeur pick-up service
  • Various welcome packs – including bedding, cooking, cleaning and studying packs.

If universities are to charge the full allowance for tuition fees, is this the kind of service that students will come to expect? Unite expressed a concern that students might arrive at university with inflated and unrealistic expectations. Brand new student housing is a wonderful option, but as with everything, it comes at a price.

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