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Residential higher education is entrenched in English culture and leaving home to study is considered to be an important part of the higher education experience.

The main problem area around student accommodation is cost. Students are concerned about the level of student support to cover costs and the availability of low cost rooms. Reliance on private purpose-built accommodation and its regulation is another growing area of concern particularly with recent problems about accommodation being unfinished for the start of the academic year.

In 2018/19 1.1 million full-time students in the UK, or 62%, lived away from home.

The proportion of students living anywhere other than with their parents fell from around 90% in the early 1990s to around 80% at the end of the decade and 75% in 2011/12. It has since increased back to 80% in 2018/19.

Around 30% of students live in private rented accommodation, 20% in university owned ‘halls’, 18% their own residence and 8% in private sector halls. More than half of new undergraduates live in university or private sector halls.

Over the past decade there has been a shift away from university owned purpose-built accommodation and towards privately-owned buildings

International students are more likely to live in purpose-built accommodation than home students. They are particularly likely to opt for more expensive studio flats.

Ethnic minority students, particularly those from Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds, and disadvantaged students are more likely to live at home than other groups. In 2014/15 fewer than 20% of students from the highest socio-economic groups stayed at compared with around 40% from the lowest groups.

The average student rent in purpose-built accommodation was £147 per week in 2018/19. Rents were highest in London, £30 per week higher than any other region for university ‘hall’s and £60 per week higher than any other region for private sector ‘halls’.

In 2018/19 the most expensive types of purpose-built accommodation were catered rooms at just under £200 per week. Among self-catered accommodation average weekly rents were just under £200 for studio flats, £150 for en-suite rooms and around £120 for rooms without en-suite.

The average annual rent was £5,403 for accommodation owned by universities and £6,462 for the private sector. These rents were 62% and 74% of the maximum maintenance loan (outside London) respectively.

Between 2011/12 and 2018/19 the maximum support for maintenance (outside London) increased by 36% in cash term. Rents varied sector-by-sector, but averages increases were typically in the 30-40% range over the same period.

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