Now in its fifth year, the Class of 2020 assembled for their annual conference in Amsterdam last week. What was originally set up by this not-for-profit organisation to understand the shortfall in purpose-built student accommodation in the Dutch capital has morphed into a truly international gathering looking at the challenges and opportunities for student accommodation development and investment across the whole of Europe, with a record attendance of 450+ delegates.
If anyone ever attends a UK conference in this sector, the buzz word is the “student experience”. For the first time at Class of 2020, most of the talks given by the overseas universities and representatives from European cities looking to “roll out the red carpet” and attract inward investment were all using that buzz word. The penny has finally dropped that universities are now all competing for an international talent pool which they want to attract, nurture and ideally retain in their cities.
These global recruitment strategies will shift student mobility from currently local to international demand. With approximately one-third of European universities already offering courses in English the tone of the conference centred around how red tape can be cut to enable student housing development to a reach a scale that is both financially viable and allows developers to build at a mass that will attract the external investment. Most European cities are experiencing similar housing shortage issues to the UK but there now seems to be a willingness to embrace student housing, reduce potential bureaucratic hurdles and attract investors.
This market is going to take off and OC is well placed to provide advice across the various European jurisdictions in this developing sector.