Students outside Edinburgh student housing Co-op

Overpriced, under-maintained and uncaring. Over 54% of university students live in private rented accommodation in the UK, and 1 in 3 view their accommodation as being poor value for money. 65% of students borrow money to pay accommodation, with the bank of mum and dad being the main moneylender here. With most students moving out each year, landlords have no incentive to provide affordable, quality housing. With this broken market, it can be pretty bleak being a student in the UK. 

But there’s a solution! Co-operation! Student housing co-ops have been implemented in a few places in the UK so far and have been shown to reduce average rents compared to the local area. With studies showing a link between higher rents and worsening mental health, reducing rent is a clear way to improve student wellbeing. 

Not only that, but student housing co-ops often offer skills and training to the residents of the co-op, teaching practical skills for the benefit of the co-op or to develop personal skills. 

Lastly, since a student housing co-op is mutually owned there is no worry about asking the landlord if you can put up posters or a wall-hang. Student housing co-ops give agency to change the environment students actually live in.

Despite the benefits, that there are only a few fully operating student housing co-ops in the UK, with Birmingham, Sheffield and Edinburgh leading the way. One reason is that funding is often tight for co-ops, in particular when concerning students. Banks don’t like giving mortgages to university students, and as a result, other sources of income need to be found. Student Co-op Homes (SCH) was set up and supported by a number of UK co-operatives as a route to finance the purchase of property for use as co-operative student housing. The initial co-ops in Birmingham, Sheffield and Edinburgh were a fantastic embryonic step, but SCH aims to do much, much more than the 100+ current residents in student co-operative housing. The aim is about 9,900 more in the UK. 

They seek to achieve 10,000 students by raising funds through their recently announced share offer. They have an ambition of raising between £100,000 and £2,000,000. Their goal with this is to use the money to purchase property for each individual student housing co-op, then lease it back to the individual co-op to repay the lease. It hopes to greatly increase the quantity of co-operative student housing in the UK and help solve the problem of poor student accommodation and create co-operators of the future.