Housing Hand highlights pressure on UK universities as political and economic factors take their toll

Housing Hand highlights pressure on UK universities as political and economic factors take their toll

  • Enhanced further education sector in China may dent UK’s international student numbers
  • Potential tuition fee cuts could jeopardise course quality
  • Brexit’s impact on the 18% of academic staff who hail from the EU is not yet known

The UK’s universities are under increasing pressure to do more for their students, even as resources are being cut, UK rent guarantor service Housing Hand reports. Housing Hand is working in partnership with select universities in order to better support students in accessing safe, appropriate accommodation during their studies. Most recently, it launched a year-long trial with Goldsmiths, University of London, that sees the Housing Hand rent guarantor service available to all Goldsmiths students at a significantly reduced rate.

Academic institutions in the UK are trying to deal with a range of issues at present, while still trying to fulfill their duty of care to all those who study at them. We’re looking for innovative ways to try and help universities support their students in the face of diminishing resources, so that they can ultimately deliver greater value.”

Terry Mason, Group Operations Director, Housing Hand

Housing Hand helps students with no UK-based rent guarantor to secure suitable accommodation, whether that be through a landlord, agent or other student housing provider. By using Housing Hand, students can mitigate the need to pay 6-12 months’ rent upfront – a standard requirement for those who have no guarantor. The service is available to domestic students, as well as those from the EU and further afield. At present, domestic students account for around 40% of those that the company serves with the other 60% coming from overseas.

International students are a particular point of concern for many universities at present. China, which sends more students to the UK than any other country, accounting for 106,530 students in 2017/18, has recently done much to improve its own higher education offering, creating more attractive degrees at home. The UK also compares unfavourably with countries such as Canada when it comes to visa terms for those who’ve graduated here, even accounting for the recent announcement that international students will be allowed to stay in the UK for two years after graduating.

Then there’s Brexit. Not only does Brexit have the ability to cause a drop in EU student numbers, it can also cause headaches for those establishments employing foreign teaching staff. Universities UK reports that 18% of the UK higher education sector’s total academic staff in 2017/18 had an EU nationality. And that’s not to mention the loss of EU research funding.

It’s no wonder that universities are doing all they can to support international students and increase their numbers. Part of this includes using services such as Housing Hand to help students deal with the chronic undersupply of suitable student housing in many UK cities and ensure that they can access safe, appropriate places to live.”

Saasha Verma, University Partnerships Manager, Housing Hand

The pain felt by universities as a result of international competition and domestic political pressures is exacerbated by potential fee cuts. Earlier this year, a landmark review commissioned by the government recommended that tuition fees be capped at £7,500, instead of the current rate of £9,250. Such a move would have a dramatic impact on the funding available to the UK’s higher education establishments and likely an inescapable knock-on effect on the quality of the courses on offer.

The UK’s universities have been turned into businesses – businesses that are trapped between government controls and deregulation. Competition is fierce, with the 450+ institutions struggling to find the flexibility to generate additional income.

“Housing Hand doesn’t have the power to solve every issue that our universities are facing, but when it comes to student welfare, we are here to help. Higher education faces a tough few years ahead, which is why a plethora of independent services are needed to work alongside the UK’s universities in order that they can remain attractive to bright young people from around the world.”

Terry Mason, Group Operations Director, Housing Hand


For more information please contact Housing Hand today on +44 (0) 207 205 2625 or visit https://www.housinghand.co.uk/