Growth in higher education enrolment globally has underpinned demand for student accommodation. In many cases it has significantly outpaced supply. Such is the imbalance that even in markets where student numbers are stagnant, opportunities do exist.
The higher education sector saw a boost to student numbers during the global economic downturn as a weaker world job market pushed more people into higher education.
Between the 2006/07 and 2010/11 academic years, student enrolment increased by an average 12% across the top seven internationally significant student markets. Since then, uneven economic recovery has brought divergent performance. Some markets have sustained enrolment growth, while others have seen numbers plateau or decline.
In response to rising tuition fees and demographic change, the large US and UK student markets have seen a fall in numbers from a 2010/11 peak (in the UK, driven by a decline in part-time students), as have Spain, Portugal and Italy.
Conversely, some smaller markets such as Austria and Ireland have enjoyed a very strong run of growth throughout the period, up 44% and 42% in the last seven years respectively. Austria has been buoyed by low tuition fees and European appeal, while Ireland has benefited from favourable demographics.
In the southern hemisphere, Australia has seen student numbers surge, benefiting from strong inbound Asian demand and fast-growing domestic population. A comparatively large market of 1.4 million students, total student numbers are up 37% in the last eight years.