On Thursday June 21st, The Class of 2020 held its Italian Regional Session at The Student Hotel in Florence. This session was all about balancing Italy’s long-standing traditions and design heritage, with a growing need for modern housing typologies amongst young talent. Today’s global student has completely different needs compared to previous generations and pursues an experience-driven lifestyle facilitated by an urban, tailored and integrated living environment. How can shape and aesthetics contribute to a sense of community, a sense of belonging, and the student living experience overall? How do these preferences direct redevelopment projects and transform existing neighborhoods into exciting new urban campuses?
Here below are the highlights of the event:
1. The undersupplied Italian market offers a lot of potential and witnesses the emergence of new residential typologies. As of late, Italy has become a destination for larger PBSA projects, however investors recognize the need to understand the dynamics and characteristics of the market better. For example, the local food culture appreciates having high quality meal options included, and the historic and current limited availability of purpose-built accommodation has led to a strong platformization trend. Despite a still limited offer of English taught programs, we see an increase of international students that want to study in Italy. Do the changing needs of Italian and international students diverge in different cities? And can we expect the Italian market to go in the direction of other European markets?
2. The rich Italian tradition of design, and design education, is positioning Italian polytechnic universities and schools for design and fashion high up in international rankings. Here Brexit is offering an interesting opportunity in attracting even more internationals in the coming years and boost the current 1,4% of internationals among the 1,7 millions of students in Italy.
3. Florence has an overwhelming share of international universities, and the highest share of American universities in Italy. This not only creates a very international classroom, but also high demand in an under supplied market.
4. Whereas the amount of international students in Italy is picking up, the share of English taught programs remains rather low. With only 2,9% of the courses in English, language remains a huge barrier in opening up the higher education market.
5. Over 90% of the students in Italy is still subletting private apartments. For international students this is changing, but there is a big step to make in educating the industry and universities about professional student living.
6. While PBSA is slowly picking up, also with the arrival of key international investors, we still see a wide variety in terms of product offering. Next to private studios, we see shared two-bedroom apartments, and the obvious clustered studios. Affordability is a key topic, and it will be interesting to see how premium products and services will be shaking up the market.