It never rains but it pours, probably quite an apt quote for today’s housing sector in Scotland.

There has been a welter of negative stories recently with various local authorities declaring housing emergencies, a savage near £200 million budget cut for the Affordable Housing Supply Programme, reports showing 93,000 homes are now lying empty in Scotland and an industry expert describing the Scottish Government’s affordable housing target as becoming ‘an impossible dream’.

With that as a starting point, we might as well, if you excuse the pun, all pack up and go home. But as the sector wallows in this unfortunate set of circumstances, there is one group often forgotten about, or at least sit far down the mental checklist, for whom a lack of suitable housing is also a major issue – students.

Cushman & Wakefield’s most recent UK Student Accommodation Report throws out some alarming statistics. In 2024 the bed shortage for students in the UK sits at an uncomfortable 371,763 rising to a staggering expected shortfall of 621,373 in 2026. Amongst the other facts and figures is the 19% private sector rental growth in Glasgow, the highest in the UK this academic year.

That would suggest Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) should have an increasingly important role to play going forward and indeed there is an expected 10% increase in supply over the next two years across the country. Clearly though, that is still not enough.

But with some providers asking for a hefty £1,200 per month for a PBSA room across the central belt, this is simply out of reach for many, if not most. There is a particular subset of student for whom suitable accommodation is especially difficult to find. Those studying for PhDs have their own particular needs as distinct from the undergraduate community as they often have partners and children to support as well.

With Glasgow’s place at the top of the heap for private sector rental growth, it is perhaps reassuring that some in the sector are looking to address the problem. Work is currently well underway at Lar Housing Trust’s development at an abandoned paint factory in the Ruchill area of the city.

This will provide much needed student accommodation for the PhD market with the completed site offering 43 one, two and three bed flats, some of which have mezzanine study areas. Indeed 6% of Lar’s current tenant body are students, most of whom are studying for a PhD and mid-market rental providers have an important role to play in addressing this problem.

Clearly it is an issue that’s growing and the student conundrum is going to need some detailed discussion and particular solutions of its own to tackle yet another housing difficulty.