Student Accommodation in Scotland: Towards A Sustainable Model

This event will explore the situation of student housing in Scotland. We will look at the challenges in responding to the increasing demand for student properties and how to offer a solution that is safe and sustainable for our students and local communities. Check our agenda and book your place! 

Providing housing services to students under pressure

With students in St Andrew’s having to join waiting lists to rent accommodation despite one in five houses in the town centre lying empty, the town is an example of the challenges of maintaining sustainable and affordable student housing across Scotland. Glasgow and Edinburgh provide 34821 bed spaces to students between them – with the average rooms costing £138 and £153 respectively. And they’re struggling to cope with the number of students residing in the cities – in 2018 just 1231 new bed spaces were created.

What is the best course of action for the councils, universities and private housing enterprises looking to increase the number of student beds? What policies will ensure that students have access to affordable and safe housing, without having a negative impact on local communities? Could limiting the number of new HMOs, as Fife Council has, the best solution?

This event presents a unique opportunity to discuss the future of the student housing sector and debate the policies that could benefit both local communities and students. We will bring you key voices in the field including expert policy makers, student associations, universities and private housing enterprises. The event is an excellent chance to have a voice in a key debate that is already shaping local housing policies across Scotland.

Confirmed speakers

  • Alexandra Marks, Senior Researcher - Justice and Social Affairs Unit, SPICe
  • David Feeney, Student Accommodation Advisor at Cushman & Wakefield
  • Nick Findlay, Managing Director at City Room Rentals
  • Liam McCabe, NUS Scotland President
  • Sandra Hunter, Legal Director at Morton and Fraser
  • Councilor Neil Gardiner, Planning Convener at Edinburgh Council 

Key issues we’ll examine with you

  • Affordability and quality of student housing – impact on student mobility
  • Impact on local communities – how student accommodation changes neighborhoods
  • Housing policies - the impact of HMOs licenses, Private Residential Tenancy and EPC ratings
  • Universities’ long-term plans – responding to the pressure of increasing student numbers
  • The role of private student housing – sustainability of the model



Registration and opening remarks

09:30    Registration and Refreshments

10:00    Welcome and Introduction from the Chair 

10.05 Session 1Assessing the growth and quality of student housing in Scotland

David Feeney, Student Accommodation Advisor at Cushman & Wakefield

Alexandra Marks, Senior Researcher - Justice and Social Affairs Unit, SPICe

  • Student mobility trends in Scotland: where is accommodation most needed?
  • The availability and affordability of flats and bed spaces: the impact on local communities and student poverty

10:40    Questions and Discussion

10:50    Refreshments and Networking

11:00  Session 2: Sustainable planning and licensing – what’s needed

11:00 Sandra Hunter, Legal Director at Morton and Fraser 

11:20 Councilor Neil Gardiner, Planning Convener at Edinburgh Council 

  • Private Residential Tenancy agreements, the student exemption and the impact of the new Tenancy Agreements on HMOs
  • Student tenants’ rights
  • Sustainability: energy performance criteria for student lettings

11:20 Speaker 2

12:50    Questions and Discussion

13:15    Lunch and Networking

13:50 Session 3: Fostering collaboration between universities, private renters and students – what’s next for the sector

Nick Findlay, Managing Director at City Room Rentals

Liam McCabe, NUS Scotland President

  • Demand in a post-Brexit scenario
  • Fostering collaboration with local communities and private landlords

15:00    Questions and Discussion

15:25    Closing Remarks from Chair

15:30    Close of Event

*Agenda subject to change


Our events are CPD certified. This event is equivalent to 3 CPD points.
A certificate is available on request post-event to all attendees. 


Speaker callout

We are committed to bringing the latest policy information with engaging dialogue and practical case studies to make a real impact in the public sector. If you are a knowledge expert in your field or have an inspiring case study which would make an impact to Public Sector organisations, we would love to hear from you. Please email with your name and contact details, linkedin profile and a summary of your project or area or expertise and we will be in touch.


Central Edinburgh, venue to be confirmed in due course
15 August 2019
Central Edinburgh Edinburgh
United Kingdom



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