How students choose accommodation

Posted: 24 Jul 2017 - 14:46
By the middle of October, one month after A-level results day, 505k students had been placed on a degree course in the UK. But at the end of July, over 100k had already received a confirmed place – that’s a fifth of the fresher market making decisions about their accommodation months before A level results day.

When it comes to choosing the right digs for university life, students don’t leave much to chance. UCAS data has uncovered some interesting facts about university accommodation. Here’s our top five:

1.    How’s this for being prepared? In 2016, one in five young people started researching accommodation BEFORE they submitted their UCAS application.

2.    Before hitting ‘accept’ on an offer from their preferred university, around three-quarters of students research local housing options. For some, the accommodation on offer can make or break a university decision.

3.    It’s a myth that students will accept grotty, run-down digs. In 2017, university applicants said the quality of accommodation on offer was more important that cost when deciding which university offer to accept. 

4.    In 2017, 65% of students confirmed their accommodation BEFORE they accepted an offer. 

5.    The average weekly accommodation budget for applicants offered a place at university in 2017 was just over £130.

What our data means for you

Engage early: Start engaging with future students well before results day. Target your audience with a message that resonates: how will living in your accommodation make life easier for them? Increasing brand awareness early, as students start their research, means you will be front of mind when they are ready to commit to their new digs.

Personalise: One of our highest performing accommodation emails from 2017 was personalised by name and location. The subject line was this reassuring message: “Sarah, your accommodation in Reading is sorted.” It achieved a staggering 81.9% open rate and an 18.4% click-through rate. 

Highlight your selling points: If your accommodation is five minutes from campus or the town centre, say so. If you’re offering a significant discount or competitive rate on your accommodation, put that message upfront.

Positive peer reviews: Reviews, either online or via word of mouth, have a significant impact on where students choose to call home.

Online video tours: Nothing beats an open day to showcase your accommodation, but private landlords can take advantage of online video tours to showcase accommodation effectively. 

Incentivise: In a competitive market, incentivising your student accommodation makes sense. But, our data reveals the most common sweeteners aren’t always the most effective. A ‘guaranteed place in halls’ message isn’t as tempting as you may think. In fact, it didn’t make it onto the top five student incentives in 2016. Free or discounted facilities such as Wi-Fi or parking are other common perks that did not have a significant impact on students’ choices in 2016. Cashback and the option to negotiate terms of contract is increasingly popular, proving that students are a consumer force to be reckoned with.

How can we help?
Discover how our unique insight into students’ university choices and motivations can boost your accommodation campaign. Call us on 01242 544 881 or email [email protected].

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