Martha Wardrop: We need to work with students to address Glasgow’s housing crisis

Ensuring that students have access to safe and affordable accommodation which suits their needs is hugely important for the city.

Our universities make a significant impact by creating jobs, supporting local businesses and attracting investment in to Glasgow.

There is a high proportion of student spending retained in the local economy, often supporting the establishment of new shops, services and leisure facilities in the immediate vicinity of our universities.

In addition, there are long-term benefits as people who gain higher qualifications are more likely to be in employment, and developing skills can help people to progress to secure, well paid work. It is vital for the city’s well-being to support access to higher education opportunities.

Glasgow continues to have the largest number of students in Scotland, with 16% from overseas. There is a high demand for student properties in Glasgow due to the popularity of the city’s universities.

As a welcoming, friendly city, we need to address the local housing market issues which have left many students attending university struggling to find anywhere to live.

Lack of housing provision has left many desperately applying to letting agents and being forced to sofa-surf with friends.

Students have all sorts of different housing needs. Many students are living in university managed purpose-built accommodation, but also, rent in privately run purpose-built accommodation and rely on a private rented sector landlord or a letting agent.

Since the easing of the coronavirus pandemic, there has been high demand for accommodation with prices increasing amid a shortage of flats available for rent. The availability of rental properties has reduced by 50% since 2019.

More and more private landlords are deciding to sell their properties. Rents across the UK are up at the highest level since the financial crash of 2008.

This housing crisis is taking place when more people are attending university than ever. It has generated a recipe for student housing difficulties.

The solution has to involve building affordable accommodation on a massive scale – for everyone, not just students.

This housing investment is especially important to stop students from lower socio-economic backgrounds being priced out of higher education or forced into experiencing financial hardship.

There is an urgent requirement to deliver more homes, across all tenures but especially for those that are sustainable, affordable and in places and of a type that meet people’s needs.

If we face a worsening housing crisis, we can focus on working with students and supporting tenant involvement in local government.

Most students aren’t even aware of which councilor represents them. We can do more to reach out to our universities and encourage students to have a greater say in council’s decision-making.

The things that impact students’ daily life the most are linked to local government and services delivered by the city council.

The new housing strategy is being developed by the council over the next year. This is an opportunity for student groups to influence and contribute to the drawing up of plans to meet the city’s housing needs.

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