The postgraduate accommodation sector is facing growing pressure, particularly in the wake of a spate of suicides in the industry.
It’s a sector which many say is under-resourced and under-rewarded.
But the industry itself is not the only one facing the pressures.
A new report by the Overseas Research Institute (ORI) is shedding light on the challenges facing the industry in the postgraduate sector.
The report, titled Postgraduate Accommodation in the UK, describes the challenges faced by postgraduate students in the current postgraduate climate.
It says:While the postgraduates themselves are in a very good position, the post graduate accommodation industry in Britain is facing a number of challenges.
The most serious issue is the increasing number of students who are seeking accommodation elsewhere in the country.
The industry, says the ORI report, is facing the challenge of accommodating a growing number of graduates who have come to the UK seeking postgraduate work experience.
The survey, commissioned by the Association of Postgraduate Student Operators (APSE), says the number of postgraduate student accommodation vacancies has more than doubled in just two years, and is expected to double again in the next two years.
The study also found that in the last year, the number awarded postgraduate degrees to postgraduate graduates in the sector had risen by 10% to just under 1,000.
The study, published in the ORIS journal Postgraduate Studies, also found the proportion of students seeking accommodation from abroad to accommodation on the mainland had grown from less than one in 20 in 2014 to one in three.
The trend, said the report, was largely driven by an increase in the number seeking post-graduate accommodation from China, which accounted for one in four of the UK’s postgraduate vacancies in 2015.
The data showed that a quarter of UK postgraduate employers said that in 2017 they had been forced to increase their recruitment targets because of the rise in the demand for accommodation in mainland China, and that this had been exacerbated by the influx of graduates from overseas.
The ORI study, conducted by the Oxford-based research agency and published by The Times Higher Education, says that the sector is struggling to keep up with the increasing demand for postgraduate study.
The organisation warns that the rise of the mainland China market has had a knock-on effect on the post-graduation industry.
The growing demand for overseas study has led to the shortage of available accommodation, with the majority of employers reporting that they are experiencing a shortage of vacancies.
In a report to the Home Affairs Select Committee in April, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said the industry was struggling to accommodate a growing proportion of graduates, particularly those from China.
In response, a government-backed organisation, the Postgraduate Admissions Commission (PACC), has launched an ambitious plan to boost the numbers of postgraduate students from mainland China who have applied to study in the British capital.
According to the PACC, the majority (75%) of post-doctoral students who have been admitted to the post university system are from mainland Chinese universities.
The PACC says this is a reflection of the increasing numbers of Chinese students coming to study here, with many of them pursuing postgraduate studies.
In April, the Pacc launched a pilot scheme in Cambridge which will allow overseas students to apply to study at Cambridge University.
It also has plans to expand its partnership with other postgraduate institutes across the UK.
The Department for International Development (DFID) is looking at ways to address the problem of recruitment from mainland mainland China to the country of residence.
A DFID spokesperson said:”The Department welcomes the opportunity to support more students from overseas who wish to study and study in Britain and to encourage more students to take up postgraduate programmes in Britain.”
A spokesperson for the UK Association of University and College Leaders (UKACL) said: “We welcome the government’s plan to offer more overseas students the opportunity for higher education.
We recognise that there are still challenges for overseas students who wish for post-degree work experience in Britain, and have taken the opportunity of the poststudy study commission to raise concerns about the quality of the accommodation available to them in the city centre.”
But the report suggests that many of these challenges are not being addressed.
“The problem of the shortage in postgraduate beds is compounded by the increasing competition for these spaces,” said the study.
“As the vacancy rate continues to rise, we believe that it will become increasingly difficult for postgraduation students to secure a place in the accommodation industry.
We believe that the Government must be proactive in addressing the demand and supply of post graduate beds, and work with our partners to ensure that there is a more sustainable and equitable supply of accommodation.”