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BLOG: A struggle for a place to call home: Glasgow student housing
For students in Glasgow, the 2022-23 academic year was a battle against a surprising enemy: finding a place to live. A severe lack of suitable and affordable student housing left […]
Published: 14 Mar, 2024

For students in Glasgow, the 2022-23 academic year was a battle against a surprising enemy: finding a place to live. A severe lack of suitable and affordable student housing left many students struggling. In 2023, Road to Home conducted a research project on Student Homelessness to examine why this happened, what the University did to support students and what lessons have been learned to prevent a similar situation. The following information summarises the key takeaways from the Student Homelessness Report 2022-23.

Where did the shortage come from?

Two main factors collided. Firstly, fewer houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) were willing to rent to students due to recent changes in tenancy laws. Secondly, a surge in student demand hit the city. This was caused by a combination of pent-up demand after the pandemic and a rise in university admissions.

Students facing an uphill battle:

The consequences for students were significant. Many faced difficulties securing accommodation due to late application deadlines, visa restrictions, and a general lack of awareness of the housing crisis. Expensive temporary solutions like hotels and AirBnB became common, impacting their finances and well-being. Limited knowledge of the housing market also made them vulnerable to scams.

Universities stepped in, but a long-term fix is needed:

Universities responded by increasing guaranteed places for specific student groups and offering short-term solutions like temporary accommodation and financial aid.

However, these are just temporary measures. Long-term solutions are crucial to create a sustainable student housing system in Glasgow.

Here’s what needs to happen:

  • Smarter data: A data-driven approach is needed to understand the number of students and the available accommodation. We know surprisingly little about student affordability, particularly incomes.
  • Increasing supply: Encouragement for the development of affordable purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) is essential, but must fit sympathetically into their communities and neighbourhoods. Exploring alternative models like student cooperatives and long-term private rented sector (PRS) leases could also be beneficial.
  • Collaboration is key: Universities in the city need to work together, share information, and plan strategically.
  • Better student support: Enhanced support services, impartial housing advice, and a dedicated non-profit student lettings agency would empower students navigating the housing market.
  • A city-wide effort: A collaborative task force across the city and potentially even nationally is vital to address the long-term supply and demand imbalance.

Things are looking slightly better, but challenges remain:

The situation has improved in 2023-24 due to decreased student numbers and university efforts. However, this is just a small step.

Investing in a long-term solution is crucial, not only for the well-being of students but also for the city’s prosperity. A thriving student population brings graduates and a future workforce, benefiting Glasgow in the long run.

Further research is needed to gain a deeper understanding of:

  • The different student market segments and their affordability.
  • How the private rented sector operates in the context of student housing.

By addressing these issues, Glasgow can ensure a future where every student feels welcome and has a safe and secure place to call home while pursuing their academic goals.

CaCHE and the Cross Party Group on Housing at Holyrood are collaborating with Edinburgh University students in 2024 to undertake further student accommodation research.

To learn more about homelessness in Glasgow, sign up for the Road to Home newsletter and join the conversation online.

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