By members of the Economic Policy & Research Group
In this report, the Economic Policy & Research Group (EPRG) investigates the nature of high costs in student accommodation in St Andrews. An initial analysis of the current housing situation shows that rents in St Andrews are abnormally expensive for a student town; overall St Andreans pay the third highest student rents in the country. The increase in student and staff numbers over the past decade and a half, as well as restrictive green belt policies, have contributed to the upward pressure in prices.
A survey of the student body gathers information on rent prices and student preferences when it comes to house-hunting. The data is gathered together and transformed into a heat map which depicts the geographical differences in rent price. Showing clear preferences for being close to the centre of town, but also being highly sensitive to rent prices, students exhibit a willingness to trade-off between proximity and price.
The report then outlines where the HMO ban failed to deliver upon its intended twin-goal of dampening house prices and strengthening town and gown relations. Indeed, it has forced both younger and lower income families out of the local housing market, putting the future social cohesion of the town at risk. It is argued that for supply to match demand and reduce upward pressure on rent prices, the HMO ban should be reversed.
On a final note, the high rental costs are intrinsically linked to St Andrews’ unique situation: golf tourism, prestigious university and HMO restrictions in the town centre. There is only so much that can be done to dampen the upward trend without changing the very nature and close-knit atmosphere of the town, which is itself a unique selling point of the university and therefore very unlikely.
Click here for the final report.
Featured photo by Peter Gordon