Unite student digs in demand as profits soar

 
Kasmira Jefford
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STUDENT accommodation giant Unite has reported a 45 per cent jump in earnings in the first half of 2015 as near-record numbers of students seeking admission to UK universities helped boost demand for rooms.

The FTSE 250 company, which has 45,000 beds across the UK, said net asset value per share rose by 30 per cent to 521p in the six months to 30 June on earnings of £29.6m.

Changes set out in 2013’s Aut­umn Statement mean a cap on the number of students universities can admit in this academic year has been lifted, sparking a major recruitment drive among institutions.

“We expect this to result in at least 100,000 additional students attending university over the next few years and have already seen this translate into strong demand for accommodation amongst universities planning for higher student numbers in 2015/16,” Unite boss Mark Allan said.

Already, room reservations for September are at 90 per cent capacity compared to 85 per cent last year. The firm expects rental growth this year to be between 3.5 per cent and four per cent, up from 3.3 per cent in 2014.

Unite added that government measures to scrap student grants will have a “small negative impact” on numbers but less so among the “stronger” universities.