THE words “Unite Students” are emblazoned on Aston University’s residence halls and on signs all over campus. They are the name of a firm that builds, buys and manages student accommodation across Britain. Last year Unite Students bought all 3,000 of Aston’s on-campus bedrooms for £227m ($313m) in partnership with the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation, a sovereign-wealth fund. It was thought to be the largest ever one-off purchase of student housing.
Many readers will no doubt recall dingy halls of residence owned by universities, or squalid private digs owned by individual landlords. But student accommodation has got an upgrade. Private halls have sprung up as cash-strapped universities have outsourced to companies such as Unite. Some have grown into publicly traded brands offering thousands of beds across the globe. American Campus Communities owns more than 134,000 beds across America. Dubai’s GSA has student housing in…Continue reading