Ireland Student Housing Market 2023

  • The full-time undergraduate and postgraduate student population of Ireland has increased 23% over the last 10 years.
  • Knight Frank Research shows that the ratio of students to purpose built student accommodation (PBSA) / bed spaces in Ireland’s four main university cities is currently 2:1, reflecting the acute shortage of supply.
  • Forecasts indicate that there will be between 39,500 and 48,900 additional full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students in higher education by 2030/31 compared to 2021/22. The fact that the number of people aged 15-19 has increased by just over 10% since 2016, puts the risk to these forecasts on the upside.
  • A limited development pipeline of PBSA bed spaces in the short to medium term is accentuating the problem. Construction cost inflation is leading to viability issues and delays in the planning system have also made it harder to obtain a grant of planning permission.
  • Given the supply and demand dynamics, we expect PBSA investment to be a key target for investors. Some churn in existing portfolios is expected, but the majority of activity will come from new site purchases and planning applications.
  • While there is significant demand by investors in this sector, only €688m has been invested in the student housing market in Ireland over the last five years,  largely due to lack of available product. We expect this to be considerably higher over the next five-years.

Joan Henry, Chief Economist & Director of Research, Knight Frank Ireland