Student Accommodation 2021 boasts a best-in-class, one-day conference agenda curated to give actionable answers to the big questions of the last two years. You'll hear from panels of industry experts, take part in engaging roundtable discussions and engage with thought leaders as we pick a front row seat for the next student revolution.

Registration and networking
Welcome from the Chair
Home Editor
Keynote: A question of trust

Trust in the sector has been badly shaken over the past 12 months. We’ve all seen the shocking images of students barricaded in accommodations, brandishing placards with pleas for food and freedom – but as the general public cannot differentiate between universities and PBSA, how have these images and related news tarnished the sector? What is the lasting reputational damage? What needs to be done to repair and restore trust?

CEO Panel Discussion: Future-proofing PBSA: The residual impact of COVID-19

The worst of the pandemic may well be behind us, but what has been left in its wake? After a very challenging year for the sector, do we believe there has been a lasting structural change as a result of new learning models, changing student requirements, and the way that universities are interacting with both students, and the private sector? How are we applying learnings from the past year to challenge norms, build resilience, rethink design, and shape the future of PBSA?

Moderated by Mark Easton, Home Editor, BBC

Chief Executive Officer
Student view: Student decision-making in 2021 & 2022

Every good business keeps its customers at the forefront of its decision-making – and students are not shy about coming forward with their requirements. From ensuite bathrooms to common space design, technology requirements to relative affordability, and even the importance of a building’s ESG credentials.

Founder & CEO
Refreshment break and opportunity to visit the showcase
Panel discussion: The affordability conundrum

The PBSA sector has historically been more expensive than the student HMO market and university halls of residence, making the latter two more popular with domestic students. But the pandemic has levelled the playing field, with PBSA being seen as more responsive to student needs.

Under the new article 4 direction removing the permitted development right allowing housing to be converted to HMOs, the balance could swing further towards PBSA, but is it still too expensive? Will the sector be able to capitalise on the opportunity – or will university halls of residence and HMOs remain the accommodation of choice for domestic students?

Moderated by Property Week

Investment Chair
Young Group
Partner, Joint Head of Student Property, Student Property Capital Markets
Knight Frank
Fireside chat: The future of the UK Higher Education sector as a global brand

The UK will see a 25% increase in the number of 18 year olds over the next decade. The Higher Education Policy Institute is also predicting increasing levels of domestic participation, which combined with growing numbers of international students, will put significant pressure on the UK HE sector to deal with additional demand. How will UK Government and the higher education sector deal with the aspirations of this growing cohort of young adults? Will the Treasury restrict the offer of higher education to some, and seek to put more into apprenticeships and other vocational learning? How are UK universities positioned to market themselves globally as we pull out of the pandemic? Has a clear message been offered to international students that UK higher education is open for business?

Higher Education Policy Institut
Chairman - Living Capital Markets
Panel discussion: The advantages and concerns of partnering with the private sector

Partnerships with private providers are very important for the higher education sector, however there are still not enough protections in place for students against landlords that Universities have no control over. During this panel, three Vice Chancellors from UK Universities come together to discuss the advantages and potential concerns of partnering with the private sector.

Moderated by Paddy Jackman, Independent Consultant

Independent Consultant
Vice Chancellor
The University of Portsmouth
Lunch break and opportunity to visit the showcase
Presentation: Smart buildings

Hosted by RealPage

Panel Discussion: Smart thinking: how Covid-19 hit the innovation accelerator

As students switched to studying remotely during the pandemic, technology became their lifeline. High-speed broadband, virtual tours, online communication platforms, you name it, students expected it – and the good PBSA operators delivered it. The innovation did not stop there. Operators quickly rolled out health & safety measures to make their buildings Covid-safe, rose to the climate crisis challenge by switching to green energy sources and addressed the ‘S’ in ESG with tech-enabled wellbeing and mental health initiatives. But what do students want post pandemic? How should the sector be innovating to meet their evolving needs and the needs of the planet? What does the smart student accommodation of the future look like?

Mark Easton, Home Editor, BBC

This session will kick off with a brief scene setter from applied futurist, Tom Cheesewright on the topic of innovation, followed by a panel discussion with PBSA industry experts.


Jon Thornhill, Group Commercial Director, Ask4

James Tiernan, Head of Energy & Environment, Unite Students

Mike Adams, Principal Insight Consultant, UCAS

Tuely Robins, Head of Insights, StudentCrowd

Applied Futurist
Commercial Director
Concurrent roundtable discussions

Sharing experiences and knowledge are key elements for the Student Accommodation audience. This is your opportunity to enter the discussion with a series of roundtables hosted by partners, speakers and Property Week editorial staff. Choose from a wide range of topics and arrive prepared to listen, learn.

Topics will include:

  • The Climate Crisis Challenge 
  • Student mental health and wellbeing
  • Learnings from build to rent: Hosted by Yardi
  • Tenancy reformation – is this the end of leasing agreements as we know them?
  • Winners and losers: how has the pandemic affected university financial positions and what doe this mean for PBSA providers?
  • The Augur review – kicked into the long grass forever?
  • Brexit: what will the lasting impact be for European students?
  • City by city: a review of affordability across different regions of the UK
Afternoon refreshment break and opportunity to visit the showcase
Panel discussion: Student Accommodation: Still hot or not?

What does the investment market look like for student accommodation in 2022 and beyond? What characteristics are investors looking for? Are yields trending inwards? How are parties dealing with the pandemic from an investment perspective? How have lenders found the past year? What forbearance has been offered on covenant breaches, and how long will this patience last? How has the pandemic affected lender views on the future?

Moderated by Mark Easton, Home Editor, BBC

Relationship Director
Investec Real Estate
Managing Director
UK Real Estate Finance
Kinetic Capital
Head of Student
Round Hill Capital
Chief Executive Officer
Harrison Street Europe
Spotlight session: Lockdown but not out

Faced with the biggest shock to the world economy in 300 years, developers were faced with a stark choice: either evolve or die. Andrew charts how Covid changed the PBSA playbook forever - and why collaboration and camaraderie have never meant more in business.

Speaker: Andrew Southern, Founder & Chairman, Southern Grove Group of companies Southern Grove & Future Generation

Panel discussion: Does PBSA (purposed built student accommodation) need to be reimagined in light of covid?

The coronavirus pandemic has caused a seismic shift in the way student housing is being operated, with many leading organisations now looking to hospitality and other sectors for inspiration and insight. How can we reimagine the sector to optimise assets? Do buildings need a full redesign? Is it the end of the leasing model as we know it? Is hotelification of operations and services the answer?

Moderated by Mark Easton, Home Editor, BBC

Director of Acquisition
Principal Director
TP Bennett
Blue Sky Thinking: What can you do today to future-proof your business?

Hear from one of the city’s most successful CEOs in how you can continue to secure investment and funding for your business, whatever the future may throw at you.

Chair’s closing remarks
Evening Awards Programme*

Get ready for an evening of celebrations as we reward the student sector for new standards of excellence.

Featuring: networking welcome reception, celebrity host, dinner and the awards ceremony.

Dress code: Lounge suits and cocktail attire

*Awards ticket holders only.

*Programme and speakers subject to change