The state of student accommodation in the UK for the 2024 academic year

The state of UK student accommodation 2024

Why is there a crisis in UK student accommodation, and what can you do to secure your preferred place in 2024?

The student accommodation crisis in the UK is worsening, with demand for beds outstripping supply by a significant margin. This is having a negative impact on students, who are facing rising rents, overcrowding, and an inability to find appropriate accommodation in their chosen university town.

Images of students sleeping on pavements in queues outside letting agencies, alongside reports of students commuting to their chosen university from another city, demonstrate the intense demand for student accommodation. It raises questions about how widespread the shortage is, how local demand and supply are driving booking processes for 2024 accommodation, and to what extent demand is driving rental price growth.

Growth in student numbers 2023

Factors driving the crisis.

Several factors are driving the student accommodation crisis, including:

  • An increase in the number of students attending university in the UK. The number of students attending university in the UK has increased by over 50% in the last 20 years. This has put a strain on the supply of student accommodation, which has not kept pace with the growth in demand.
  • An increase in the number of international students attending university in the UK. The number of international students attending university in the UK has also increased significantly in recent years. International students are often willing to pay higher rents for student accommodation, which drives up prices and quickly reduces the availability of good houses and flats for all students. 

The UK has seen an increase of approximately 77% in non-EU international full-time students since the 2017/18 academic year, which continued to grow in 2021/22 despite concerns and restrictions related to the pandemic. The top three source countries for international students to the UK were India, China and Nigeria respectively. The number of Indian students coming to study in the UK saw the most significant growth between the 2017/18 and 2021/22, particularly at the postgraduate level, which increased by 6.75x (approximately 89,000 students).

Looking ahead, we can expect to see continued growth in the number of international students, given the strength of these markets. Many universities will also see this growth as an essential mitigation to the financial pressures caused by the freeze on the domestic fee cap at a time of significant inflationary pressure. Therefore, the recruitment of international students offers universities the opportunity to deliver improved margins needed to subsidise domestic teaching and research activity.

“If you were a student accepting a place late in the cycle and were looking to book private accommodation in Durham on 31 October 2022 (for the 2022/23 AY), there would have been nothing left to book as no buildings had any available rooms. On 25 May 2023, Durham only had 14% of buildings with availability for 2023/24 AY. This means that from a total of seven private PBSA in Durham, only one building had at least one room available.”

A shortage of affordable housing in the private sector. 

The lack of affordable housing in the private sector is also having an impact on the student accommodation market. As more and more people struggle to find affordable housing in the private sector, they turn to what would have been student accommodation in previous years. Landlords are taking advantage of those renters who are desperate for housing and gaining long-term rental security. This transition from Student-only accommodation to general housing is putting additional pressure on the supply of student beds.

The shortage of student accommodation in the UK 2024

Impact on students

The student accommodation crisis is having a significant impact on students in a number of ways, including:

  • Financial impact: The cost of student accommodation is rising quickly, putting a strain on students’ finances. Many students are having to take out larger loans or work part-time jobs to cover the cost of their accommodation. This can reduce the amount of time that students have to focus on their studies and can also lead to increased stress and anxiety.
  • Academic impact: The student accommodation crisis can also have a negative impact on students’ academic performance. Students who are struggling to find or afford accommodation may be more likely to drop out of university. Students who are living in overcrowded or unsuitable accommodation may also find it difficult to concentrate on their studies.
  • Mental health impact: The student accommodation crisis can also have a negative impact on student’s mental health and wellbeing. Students who are struggling to find or afford accommodation may experience stress, anxiety, and depression. Students living in overcrowded or unsuitable accommodation may also feel isolated and lonely.

Recommendations for government and universities

The government and universities need to take action to address the student accommodation crisis. This action could include:

  • Increasing the supply of student accommodation. This could be done by building more halls and dedicated student apartments and by encouraging private landlords to provide student accommodation through tax breaks and other incentives.
  • Providing financial assistance to students who are struggling to afford accommodation. This could be done through grants, loans, or tax breaks.
  • Regulating the student accommodation market. This could involve setting rent caps and introducing minimum standards for student accommodation.

Additional insights

The student accommodation crisis is more than just a problem for students. It is also a problem for the UK economy. The student accommodation sector is worth billions of pounds and supports thousands of jobs. However, the crisis is putting this sector at risk.

If the government and universities do not take action to address the crisis, it is likely to get worse. This could have a negative impact on the UK economy and on the quality of life for students.

search for student accommodation from a trusted landlord in 2024

How students can stay ahead of the accommodation crisis

The student accommodation crisis is a real challenge for students in the UK. With demand outstripping supply, it can be very difficult and expensive to find a place after your first year in halls of residence. However, there are a number of things that students can do to stay ahead of the crisis and find affordable and suitable accommodation:

Start your search early this year

One of the most important things that students can do is to start their search for accommodation early. This is especially important for students who are applying to universities in the most popular cities, where accommodation tends to fill up quickly.

Students should start their search for accommodation as early as the autumn of the year before they start university. This will give them plenty of time to research their options and to find a place that meets their needs and budget. 

Be prepared to commit when you find suitable accommodation.

In the current competitive student accommodation market, students need to be prepared to commit as soon as they find suitable accommodation. This means being able to make a decision on a property quickly and having the funds in place to pay a deposit. Students should also be prepared to deal with the appropriate paperwork, such as signing a tenancy agreement and providing references.

Here are some tips for students on how to be prepared to commit early:

  • Have your finances in order. Before you start looking for accommodation, make sure you have a good understanding of your budget and how much you can afford to spend on rent and other expenses. It is also a good idea to have some money saved up for a deposit, which is typically around one month’s rent.
  • Be prepared to act quickly. When you find a property that you like, be prepared to make a decision quickly. In the current market, properties can be snapped up within hours or even minutes.
  • Read the tenancy agreement carefully before signing it. The tenancy agreement is a legally binding contract, so it is important to read it carefully before signing it. Make sure you understand all of the terms and conditions, including the rent price, the length of the tenancy, and the notice period.
  • Provide references. Most landlords will require references from previous landlords or employers. Make sure you have references ready to provide when you are applying for accommodation.

By being prepared to commit early, students can increase their chances of finding suitable accommodation in a competitive market. Remember, rents are increasing, so getting a commitment from a landlord can also save you the stress of finding that the rent has gone up if you delay. 

Group together with other students

Another way to save money and find suitable accommodation is to group together with other students to rent an entire house or a group of flats. This can be a great option for students who are studying on the same course, as it will allow them to live with people who have similar needs and lifestyles.

Students can find other students to group with by advertising on social media or by contacting their student union. There are also a number of websites that specialise in matching students together to find accommodation. For example, Metro Student Accommodation can help you fill a larger house or group of flats if you are willing to take on the entire place.

Students working together to save costs in 2024

Ask for advice from leading student landlords.

Leading student landlords, such as Metro Student Accommodation, can offer students valuable advice on how to find and secure affordable housing. They may also have a number of student properties available to rent, even if their websites are showing as fully booked.

Students can contact leading student landlords by phone or email. They should be prepared to provide information about their needs and budget, and they should be ready to have an open and honest discussion about their needs and expectations.

Here are some additional tips for students who are looking for accommodation:

  • Be flexible with your location. Students who are willing to live further away from their university campus may be able to find more affordable accommodation.
  • Consider renting a room in a private house. This can be a more affordable option than renting a flat or house, and it can also be a great way to meet new people.
  • Use student unions and social media to find others on your course or university so you can club together.
  • Be prepared to commit. With fewer houses and flats available to students, it is unlikely that students can take time to negotiate or ‘think’ about their accommodation.

Following these tips can help students stay ahead of the accommodation crisis and find affordable and suitable housing for the 2024 academic year.


The student accommodation crisis is a serious problem that is having a significant impact on students and on the UK economy. Students must act quickly to secure the best accommodation in their chosen university town – and they may need to compromise on some requirements to get the house, flat or room they want.

Contact Metro Student Accommodation

Get in touch to discuss your student accommodation needs for 2024:

Call: +44(0)1491 527 500

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Search our student properties to rent for 2024:

Search for student accommodation in Preston, Plymouth, Swansea, Bath or Bristol.

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Metro Student Accommodation 
Old Ship House,
Wharfe Lane
Henley on Thames

PWC Student Accommodation: Availability and rental growth trends, July 2023
Higher education student numbers, House of Commons Library, Research Briefing by Paul Bolton, 21 February 2023
2023 cycle applicant figures – 25 January deadline
Demand for Higher Education to 2035, HEPI
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities 2019/20 and


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