Investing in education

25 April 2018

Until recently the market has barely existed. However, because of the high number of students n Poland (1.3 mln) and a high level of investment, the sector is currently blossoming. The supply of student halls in Poland is still quite low and there is not enough product to provide for the basic living needs of students. It’s a niche that investors cannot leave fallow.

“The student hall market is much more developed in Europe than in Poland. In our country the ratio of beds in private student halls to the number of students is about 10 pct, while in the UK it is over 20 pct and in other western countries, it is around 11-19 pct. It is also a very important part of the investment market,” claimed Wioleta Wojtczak, the head of research at Savills during the 9th Hotel and Office Investment Conference, organised by Eurobuild Conferences and the city of Łódź.

“The market is also more diverse there – from budget accommodation, to mid-range and luxurious projects,” she added. Just like with other classes of real estate assets, investors are now showing interest in student halls in our part of Europe. “The market for student halls was first developed in the USA then it went to the UK and then to the rest of Europe, where it is currently booming due to the involvement of institutional investors such as insurance companies and funds. We can now see that investors are shifting their attention to Central and Eastern Europe and the Polish market is leading this trend due to its sheer size,” stated Stefan Kolibar, the head of marketing at Student Marketing.

The demand for such accommodation is being addressed by developers. “We are focusing on the largest cities: Warsaw, Kraków, and Gdańsk. Of course there is a lot of competition in these centres, but if you take into account the size of the entire Polish market, it is so small that anyone can simply enter it and grow,” claims Rafał Kroczak, the director of analysis at Metropolitan Investment. “We currently are working on two projects. One at the Gdańsk University of Technology and the other is on ul. Grunwald, at the border of Gdańsk and Sopot. These are going to be student halls of a superior-standard with micro-apartments. We’re focusing on foreign students such as from Kuwait or India. We are also marketing to Polish students and they also expect a high standard,” he added. To successfully market a student hall developers have to address these higher expectations. “We saw the demand for private student halls in Łódź five years ago. Universities were not particularly interested in the development of private student accommodation, but after talking with student communities, we became convinced that students expect higher standards than in public facilities. The modern-day student is also able to pay for them. After doing our research, we built Super Akademik with 270 rooms. When we started commercialising it, it turned out that even with three such buildings, we wouldn’t have had a problem with finding interested parties,” said Urszula Aleksandrowicz, the CEO of MRT Philosophy.

“This shows the potential of Łódź, which has good reason to be called an academic city,” she added. The student housing market has grown so much that some now want to develop this niche market on a massive scale. “We want to operate on a large scale in the market – we have almost 500 beds in Poznań, in Łódź we have our Super Akademik, which is now called Salsa and has 283 beds, and our student hall in Lublin has same number beds. The opening of a student hall with around 500 beds in Wrocław is also to take place soon and we are starting development of a centre in Warsaw. We are also about to complete a project in Kraków and we’re also looking at Gdańsk,” says Jolanta Bubel, the operational director at Student Depot.

The moderator of the panel was Dorota Malinowska, a partner at Pro Value.

More information: EurobuildCEE

The 10th Hotel Investment Conference
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