Much has been written about Purpose-Built Student Housing (PBSH) in the past few years as globally, investors have cottoned-on to the compelling investment story that lies behind this popular asset class. Its mix of over-demand and under-supply, even as global student numbers look set to rise still further, has attracted billions of investment dollars, pounds and euros into new developments in many cities across the World.
Studivest Business Development Director, Tony Trescothick said: “What is perhaps not considered, though, are the opportunities for SRI investing – an acronym with several definitions but for our purposes, Sustainable, Responsible and Impact. In other words, investing in assets that are designed to be considerate towards the environment, society and the needs of communities in general, where energy-efficiency and environmental-kindliness is an important element within design, and where the act of investing can have a positively impactful effect upon users or the communities in which the investments are made.”
Studivest has published a short paper which suggests that providing a ready-supply of modern, secure housing with additional levels of facilities aimed at students from a broader section of the global community could nicely match the criteria that SRI investing tends to have when strategies are employed.
PBSH that is run with these young people in mind, can be a support for them as they find their feet in the first few months, and also as they learn to cope with heavy study workloads, being away from their families, and maybe cultural differences that add additional pressures. This is an area most PBSH developments will already allow for with well-run management services ensuring students don’t feel isolated or overwhelmed.
Mental health is a huge concern in these environments where students may need peer support and pastoral care when things can get on top of them, either with their studies, relationships, financial matters or simply feeling isolated from loved ones. Increasingly, operators are aware of these issues and will work with mental health charities and the colleges themselves to provide valuable support when needed.
Within an SRI-friendly investing environment, these elements could be improved even further by adding new layers of support and encouragement, particularly to students from less-well-off countries with perhaps limited resources.
At more moderate rents yet with good quality finishes and amenities, utilities included and with caring and thoughtful support services on-hand, this section of our global society could be ensured that high standards of education, foreign travel and positive cultural exchange experiences, will not elude them. In turn, this could empower many thousands of students from developing or less-well-off countries to bring back to their home communities the skills and expertise needed to stoke national development and progress.
SRI investors who collaborate with skilled and experienced developers and operators could create a dynamic new movement within the higher education sector, enabling students from more countries and more economic strata than ever before to benefit from the World’s universities.
Many countries, especially in the emerging economies of Europe by way of example, have on offer a good education but at living and tuition costs that are more within the means of more students as well as a welcoming and positive attitude to students from other continents.
Studivest is proposing that this could be a whole new way forward for SRI investors to stimulate and support the growing higher education system and the students from around the World that are seeking to benefit from it.