Student Accommodation sector in Sri Lanka private institutes
Student Accommodation Sector in Sri Lanka around Private Higher Education Institutes

Student Accommodation Sector in Sri Lanka around Private Higher Education Institutes

Sri Lanka is continuing on with its path to becoming an education hub in the region and higher education institutes which offer degrees and diplomas have become an essential part in this process. Student population in these institutions has been growing steadily over the years with more and more avenues being opened to students to obtain a higher quality education via private education institutes.
However, there seems to exist no correlation between the rising student population and the student accommodation sector, which has remained very much rooted to its traditional approaches. A quick study conducted regarding the top 10 private higher education institutes in Sri Lanka (source – reveals many of them do not possess institutionally supported, student accommodation systems. And even in the institutes that do offer student accommodation, it is only either available to female students in most cases or not capable of catering to the overall demand for accommodation.
Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT), the highest ranked private education institute in the country, maintains a policy of only providing accommodation to female students. The accommodation consists of an apartment that will facilitate 5 people at once. It is equipped with 2 twin beds and a single bed. While the water and electricity facilities are free, each apartment is also furnished with a refrigerator and a gas cooker. However, they have listed a number of third party private housing facilities in their official website. (
Second highest ranked institute is the General Sir John Kotelawala Defense University, which does not provide accommodation to private students but offers full accommodation to cadets who are enrolled in their courses. This selective accommodation practice is also prevalent in Cinec Maritime campus, which provides accommodation only to phase 1 marine students. Many other campuses or higher educational institutes, seem to operate on a discretionary basis rather than offering outright accommodation and instead prefers to maintain a smaller accommodation facility which is supplemented by various third-party accommodation providers.
However, with the introduction of the NSBM Green University Town, the concept of student accommodation has begun to change. Being the first of such initiatives in Sri Lanka, it aims to mimic the conditions that exist throughout many renowned universities of the world. Such universities are supported by an eco-system which closely resembles a town, which is centered around the university. Student accommodation and other facilities are set up and maintained by the university in a larger way with the third-party providers only playing a minority role. The NSBM Green University Town states that it aims to house 30,000 undergraduates at any given time. It is also expected that shopping malls as well as banks and supermarkets will be incorporated within the town and it showcases the parallels that NSBM is trying to replicate.
It is imperative to analyze how the student accommodation industry is functioning globally; especially as it is the same conditions that NSBM is trying to recreate in their Green University town. In UK, according to data provided by Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), the number of students studying in universities was highest at 1.74 million fulltime students which continued to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 1.2%.
According to the website of Empiric Student Property, “Student accommodation rental growth in the UK of 3% per year between 2014 and 2016, has surpassed all other real estate asset sectors and significantly outpaced RPI” and that “Total investment in the UK student accommodation sector reached almost £6 billion in 2015 and £3.5bn in 2016, with increasing investment from international sources”

Also, it was noted across many student groups, that providing just basic accommodation was no longer deemed attractive by students. Availability of facilities such as internet and other digital infrastructure is having a tremendous impact on students’ choosing of such housing.
It can be expected that the same trend will follow suit in Sri Lanka. As younger generations pursue digitization as an essential element of their lives, more and more of such amenities will form an essential part of their accommodation. However, it seems unlikely that many of the third parties or even institution sponsored accommodations are adapting to this. There is a selected and very distinctive group of third parties who does provide such amenities, yet this is far from becoming the industry standard.
The shortcomings of the state universities in providing accommodations have also been extensively documented, and have been the subject of many protests over the years. These students also rely on traditional student accommodation facilities that offer nothing more than the most basic of amenities. However, the demands being placed on the accommodation sector is headed to a tipping point, where more commitment is needed to establish a higher quality student accommodation system.

Student population of Sri Lanka is growing at a tremendous rate, particularly in the higher education sector. This is primarily seen in private institutions and are closely followed by the state education system. Despite a string of third party providers, currently catering to a segment of the demand, priorities of a student in choosing accommodation is changing rapidly.
Added to this, the implosion of an expected population in the recent future, will create a void in student accommodation and providers, which in turn creates an attractive investment proposition for any interested party. Student accommodation has proven to be the highest functioning real estate venture in the UK due to growth of students and the same conditions are being laid in Sri Lanka. Therefore, any investor stands to make greater return of investment than on any other real estate project in Sri Lanka.

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Article Code : VBS/AT/18072017/Z_2

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