This piece was published in The Guardian in March 2016.
Once upon a time, students lived in the cheapest and grottiest shared houses a city had to offer. First-year students had it even worse, traditionally confined to bog-standard, barrack-like halls of residence tucked away on the edge of campus.
Today, student accommodation in the UK is big business. According to the estate agent Savills, £5.8bn was pumped into the market last year, and private developments continue to spring up on prime city-centre sites. From the outside, the blocks look indistinguishable from residential flats, except for the giveaway branding that promises a “boutique” or “luxury” student experience.
Nowhere is the student housing boom more evident than Coventry. The city centre is best known, and often maligned, for its radical postwar reconstruction. Yet the maze-like 1950s shopping precinct and 1960s office blocks will soon be surrounded by towering 21st-century student flats. A company called Study Inn offers accommodation at five locations.
Coventry University has been relaxed about the private sector picking up the demand among overseas students for hotel-type rooms, with flatscreen TVs and en suite bathrooms. Four of the five Study Inn locations are made up solely of self-contained studio apartments, with rent ranging from £141 to £181 a week.
Read more at The Guardian.