(The Free Press Journal publishes articles by study abroad consultants, Consulates, foreign universities, international students, and much more every Saturday to give its readers a glimpse of the world of overseas education.)
International students will no longer be allowed to bring family members with them after 2024, according to the UK Department of Education. As the government works to cut back on immigration, this new cap was established about a month ago.
The regulation is an exemption for students enrolled in courses designated as research programmes, such as PhD students or research-led master's courses, who will still be allowed to bring dependents with them to the UK.
While the new rules could impact Indian students planning to study in the UK, another aspect with regards to accommodation has not been discussed enough.
New rules could hurt student housing market in UK
The recent proposal of restrictions by the UK government on students bringing dependents, unless enrolled in specific research programs, is poised to have far-reaching consequences. If passed, this proposal will not only affect a large number of applicants coming to the UK but will also have significant implications for higher education institutes and the broader UK economy.
It may deter students from choosing the UK as their study destination, leading them to consider alternative countries like Australia, Canada, and the USA.
Furthermore, this policy change will have an adverse impact on local landlords and the HMO market, while purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) will remain unaffected. As experts in providing solutions for students with dependents, Amberstudent has been engaged by both higher education institutes and PBSA providers to assess the potential impact of this legislation.
The actual impact on the student accommodation sector would depend on the extent of the restrictions, and the number of students affected by these changes. The extent of these may also vary in different cities and regions of the UK.
Majority of UK cities have less options for dependents
Only a small percentage of accommodations cater to dependents, and it is a requirement for at least one family member to be a student. The scarcity of affordable and family-friendly housing near universities has always been a major concern.
It is also important to note that the significant increase in dependent visas granted to family members of foreign students highlights the growing demand for family-friendly accommodation among Indian students. However, the majority of housing options do not cater to students with dependents, leading them to seek private sector solutions such as securing houses for multiple occupancy.
Some major cities including London can have very high accommodation costs and renting a larger home to accommodate dependents does become very expensive. Thus, it is essential for students to also consider overall living costs such as utilities, commuting and other expenses.
Will students find good accommodation with family members?
With the majority of student housing designed for single occupants or small groups, neglecting the needs of families. Those wishing to bring dependents must navigate the private sector, where securing houses for multiple occupants is the norm among single students but comes with hidden costs and the challenge of finding reputable landlords.
It's advisable for Indian students considering bringing dependents to the UK to contact the universities they are interested in or consult with current students to gather accurate and updated information on the availability of dependent-friendly accommodations.
In light of these obstacles, it is imperative for student accommodation providers to proactively adapt to the evolving needs of Indian students. This entails increasing the availability of dependent-friendly options, offering greater flexibility in housing arrangements, and providing comprehensive support services to assist students in finding suitable accommodations for themselves and their dependents. By addressing these pressing concerns, accommodation providers can make a profound impact on the educational journeys of Indian students in the UK.
For students, it is advisable to keep in touch with their university authorities and consultants to stay informed about the impact of these regulations.
The author is the Co-Founder & CEO of Amberstudent -International Student Accommodation Provider.