According to CBRE there were just 5,200 beds for students across 20 projects in Dubai at the end of 2019, while the number of students pursuing higher education in Dubai alone during the 2018-19 academic year was 53,200.
“Historically, higher education has been primarily geared towards residents of the UAE. So, students whose parents happen to live and work in the UAE and as they grow, they need options for higher education. That’s really why there aren’t as many professional student accommodation providers,” said Gabriella De La Torre, a director of CBRE’s Middle East, North Africa and Turkey region’s consulting division.
Another factor weighing against the provision of dedicated student units has been the large amount of residential units on the market, with many students renting in residential communities.
Of the 5,200 beds currently classed as student accommodation, most are in Dubai International Academic City. About 40 per cent are on-campus units provided by the universities and 45 per cent are in off-campus, university-affiliated accommodation. The remaining 15 per cent are in purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA), according to CBRE.
The first PBSA scheme to be built in the UAE was Uninest, a 424-unit project completed in 2016 by Global Student Accommodation, a company founded by Nicholas Porter, who pioneered the PBSA model in the UK through Unite Group.
According to CBRE, 34 per cent of those pursuing higher education in Dubai are UAE nationals while the remaining 66 per cent are non-nationals. Around 53 per cent of students are from Asia, 30 per cent are from the Middle East and North Africa, six per cent from Europe and five per cent from Africa.
For the latest market intelligence on a wide range of hospitality and real estate asset classes in the UAE, including student accommodation, don’t miss Urban Living MEA, which takes place on November 13 and 14 at ROVE Dubai Marina.