Purpose Built Student Accommodation: A Solution for Modern Student Living

As the number of students attending universities and colleges around the world continues to increase, so does the demand for high-quality student accommodation. Traditionally, students have turned to university halls, the private rented market or student digs to live while studying. However, in recent years, a new trend has emerged: purpose built student accommodation (PBSA).

Download the Ireland Student Housing Market 2023.

What is Purpose-Built Student Accommodation?

Purpose built student accommodation is housing designed specifically for students. Unlike traditional student accommodation, which is often converted from existing properties, PBSA is designed and built with students in mind, featuring facilities and amenities that cater to their needs. They are typically located developed close to universities and colleges, making them convenient for students.

Purpose built student accommodation

Benefits of Purpose-Built Student Accommodation

There are several benefits to living in PBSA, including:

1. High-quality facilities

PBSA is purpose built to provide students with modern and high-quality living spaces. They often feature state-of-the-art facilities, including study areas, social spaces and gyms which can help to enhance the student experience.

2. Social opportunities

PBSA often includes organised events which can help to create a sense of community among the residents.

3. Convenience

PBSA is typically located close to universities and colleges, making it easy for students to get to and from their classes. They are often located in city centres or close to public transport links, making it easy for students to explore their surroundings.

4. Safety and security

PBSA often includes security measures such as 24-hour security staff, CCTV and secure access systems, ensuring that students feel safe and secure in their living environment and provides peace of mind to parents and guardians.

modern gym with equipments - benefit of purpose built student accommodation

Challenges of Purpose-Built Student Accommodation

While PBSA offers many benefits, there are also some challenges that students may face, including:

1. Cost

PBSA can be more expensive than other forms of student accommodation, which may not be affordable for all students.

2. Lack of flexibility

PBSA often requires students to sign a licence for a fixed period, which may not be suitable for those who require more flexibility.

3. Limited availability

Sufficient PBSA bed spaces may not be available in all locations, which may limit the options for students who wish to live in purpose-built student accommodation.

Investment in Purpose Built Student Accommodation

PBSA which sits within the living sector has seen strong levels of investment in recent years. PBSA has moved from an alternative asset to one which is now a growth area of investments for many institutional funds. PBSA is seen by investors as being aligned with the highly stable higher education sector and the growing student populations.

The market is underpinned by the structural under supply of accommodation which is not keeping pace with the growth in student numbers. There is a lack of grants of planning to deliver student accommodation in the short to medium term as other forms of development have taken preference. This now provides significant opportunities for developers and investors to enter this market.

investment opportunities in purpose built student accommodation


Purpose built student accommodation is a growing trend in the student accommodation sector, offering modern and high-quality living spaces designed specifically for students. While there are some challenges associated with PBSA, the benefits it offers, including convenience, safety, and social opportunities, make it an attractive option for many students.

As the demand for student accommodation continues to increase, we can expect to see more purpose built student accommodation developments in the future.

If you would like to know more about the PBSA sector in Ireland, get in touch with Emma Courtney or Tim McMahon on the Knight Frank Residential Capital Markets team.

Irish Student Accommodation Report

 Click below to download a copy of the Irish Student Accommodation Report.