The number of purpose built student flats in Glasgow increased by approximately 2,000 last year, bringing the total to over 14,500. SNP MSP Sandra White recently held a public meeting to gauge opinion on these growing numbers, after claiming the city centre and the West End are being “swamped” by student accommodation.
The statistics were reported in a recent survey by commercial property and real estate consultants Cushman and Wakefield. Senior Consultant at Cushman and Wakefield, David Feeny, attributed the increases to the growing student numbers and a rise in the number of international students.
Mr Feeny added: “Things like on-site gyms, weekly cleaning, grab and go breakfasts and free broadband help make the transition from the family home easier.”
Sandra White, MSP for North Kelvin, said: “Every single piece of spare land in the West End and the city centre is being taken up by student accommodation. What do we want Glasgow to turn into? Do we want Glasgow to end up like St Andrews, which is like a ghost town at the end of semesters?
“I think it’s time for a public meeting. People should be consulted about this. These are profiting businesses. They don’t play community tax or council tax.
“We should be trying to bring families into the city centre, creating more social housing.”
A Glasgow City Council spokesperson said: “Glasgow enjoys a great reputation as an academic city, home to three universities, the Glasgow School of Art, the Royal Conservatoire and a number of colleges. This enviable reputation means that an increasing number of students now live in the city – in fact they form around 13% of the city’s population.
“These students make a great contribution to our civic and economic life, and the increasing number of purpose-built student accommodation developments reflect their growing numbers.”
Ms White later stated: “Having received numerous representations from groups and individuals within Kelvin regarding student accommodation I felt it was only right and proper to arrange a public meeting in order to raise these concerns in a public forum.
“Being well aware of the many benefits students bring to our community this only heightens my very real concerns regarding these types of developments.
“They appear to be solely constructed for profit and certainly not in the interest of our student population, with monthly rents easily outstripping even private lets in the West End and City Centre.”
A spokesperson for the University of Glasgow said: “The provision of student accommodation is an important part of the student experience and we are focused on making sure that the accommodation we currently provide meets the needs of the students who choose to study at University of Glasgow. A number of private developers currently operate in the City and this provides choice for students.
“Whilst the University is unable to control the activities of the private sector developers we do not actively approach developers nor do we commit to taking long term interests in any of the private developments.”
President of Glasgow University’s Students’ Representative Council Ameer Ibrahim said: “Students substantially enhance the culture within the West End community.
“We would hope going forward that quality accommodation is there in the future for our student community.”
Ms White held a meeting at Strathclyde University’s Student Union on 30 January to consult students on the accommodation developments targeted at them.