Student accommodation is a term used in debates over the impact of student housing in the United Kingdom, especially with regard to the recent expansion of numbers in higher education. As increasing numbers of young people attend universities, institutionally-owned halls of residence have become increasingly incapable of coping with the demand for housing. At the same time, house-sharing has become considered a normal and sometimes desirable part of the student experience. In most university towns today, students only stay in halls for their first year, then move out into private student accommodation.
In many towns, this trend has led to the emergence of student areas. These tend to be low-rent areas which are situated near to city centres, and often have plenty of leisure facilities (e.g. pubs, cinemas, bowling alleys) within walking distance. On the other hand, they tend to have lower rents. Student areas are often perceived negatively by local or neighbouring populations, and the perceived negative social or economic impact of students on their chosen neighbourhoods has led to tension in so-called town-gown relations.
The influx of students to an area was thought to devalue the local property market, but recently the competition for good housing has often led to rising prices, as student landlords and letting agents compete for rental revenues. The surplus of student demand is seen to provide guaranteed income for landlords who chose to take advantage of the market, and many buy-to-let landlords chose to designate their properties as "student houses" in promotional materials. This label usually implies a lower quality of decor than would be expected for a normal let, balanced against the landlord's willingness to accept multiple tenants and parental guarantors.
Some cities have begun to offer serviced student accommodation in a bid to raise the quality of student housing and steal market share. These facilities are often quite luxurious with flat screen TV's and Playstations thrown into the offering.
The student market has become big business in the UK and organisations have sprung up to cater to this market ranging from student advice and student accommodation websites through to dedicated student letting agents. The competition in this sector is fierce because student loans and grants means this sector have a high level of disposable income at the start of the year or semester.