Curtis Associates Research Ltd
Higher Education and Industrial Research Market Research, Database Management and Business Development Services

Understanding how Students Choose their Accommodation

Client need:
Our client, a leading university in the UK, owns a great deal of student accommodation.  In recent years there has been a large expansion in the privately owned student accommodation that is available nearby.  The changing numbers of students, along with an increasingly competitive housing market meant that our client needed to understand more about exactly how students chose their accommodation and what was really important to them.

Market research objectives:
To understand how students decide between private accommodation and university owned accommodation.
To understand how the university could make its accommodation more attractive to prospective students.

This was a qualitative piece of research; one for which focus groups were chosen as the best way of gaining an understanding of the issues.  Groups were drawn from the overall student population to reflect the diversity of the individuals and groups in differing types of accommodation.  All participants were carefully screened at the recruitment stage to ensure representative samples.

Key outcomes:
Many students only had a sketchy view of what to expect from university owned accommodation.  By significantly improving their web site, our client was better able to demonstrate the quality and breadth of amenities and facilities available, making the accommodation more attractive to students.
Students see the benefits of university owned accommodation as including safety, convenience and an innate trust of the university as a landlord.  By promoting these benefits, our client is able to present their housing stock as an easier choice.
Many students find it difficult to make accurate cost comparisons between the different housing options open to them.  By being specific about exactly what is included in the package and what is not, our client was able to demonstrate that their housing represented good value, making it more attractive to students.

The market research results presented to our client not only informed and clarified what was important for their marketing materials but also helped to focus on those things that were important to their tenants.

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