Student digs provider sees profits rise 44%

UNITE - the heart of student living
Unite Group – the heart of student living

The largest provider of student accommodation in the UK saw pre-tax profits jump from £77.1m to £108.4m last year after restrictions on the number of students that universities can admit were lifted.

A record 512,000 students were awarded university places in September 2014, up 4% on the previous year, after the government gave the go ahead for further education providers to admit an extra 30,000 students per year.

Unite, which provides digs for 43,000 students in the UK, reports its total revenues rose to £108.5m in the year to 31 December compared with £101.6m the previous year.

The group says the removal of the government cap on student numbers, together with the continued attraction of the UK as a destination for international students, suggests a further meaningful increase in the numbers of new students next year.

The cap will be removed altogether this year, which is expected to fuel further growth in student numbers seeking admission and boost demand for rooms, according to Unite chief executive Mark Allan.

Unite’s occupancy rate for the current student year is 99%, while reservations for the 2015/16 academic year are standing at 65%, compared with 62% at the same point last year.

Allan said: “This provides us with further confidence in occupancy and rental levels for the 2015/16 academic year, which we expect to be at least as strong as for 2014/15.”

Mark Allan, Unite chief executive, said: “Market conditions remain supportive. Student numbers continue to grow steadily, interest rates are still low, development costs remain attractive and the investment market continues to strengthen.

“We are alert to the risks of rising interest rates, development cost inflation and the uncertainty of an impending general rlection but are managing the business in a disciplined way and continue to look forward with confidence.”

Image credit: M J Richardson