Property Week editor Lem Bingley welcomed 800+ guests to the O2 InterContinental Hotel to celebrate the outstanding achievements of the PBSA sector over the past year.
He pointed out that young people enter education because they want to achieve things over a lifetime and are prepared to study and pay for that chance. This is evidenced by the fact the Student Loans Company paid out £19.1bn in the last financial year.
Bingley continued: “The total student loan book now stands at more than £205bn. Every penny of that was borrowed as an investment in the future. Even if quite a bit of it was actually spent on beer and having a good time.
“That huge flow of investment, that continuing belief in the future, is also the lifeblood of this thriving industry.”
Bingley thanked the judging panel and sponsors across the 17 categories. He said: “Talking of dedication, I want to acknowledge the hard work put into these awards by our panel of judges. They have spent a lot of time assessing entries to make sure that tonight’s awards go to the most deserving entrants.”
Lauren Ambrose, CEO of Property Week’s charity Partner Talent Trap and Max Webster, who has been helped by the charity, then took to the stage to share more about the fantastic work this charity does to promote social mobility.
Along with all of the deserving winners (see below), Property Week was also delighted to welcome our Hall of Fame recipients to the stage. Jo Winchester, formerly of CBRE and now with Gerald Eve, and Mark Quigley of Beaufort Capital, both took the top award of the night thanks to their dedication to building and developing the PBSA sector.
Winchester said it was a “huge privilege” to take home a Hall of Fame trophy and highlighted that it was reflective of three key factors: “Receiving this award means the world to me and is recognition of three things. Firstly, is the recognition of valuation skills. Valuation is pivotal to all activity in real estate. Secondly, recognition of the value of noticing trends…and creating insight for the wider benefit of others. Thirdly, perhaps most importantly, is recognition of the impact of women…it is a credit to the student accomodation sector that it isn’t as male dominated as the rest of the property industry.”
She added: “I continue to support diversity, equity and inclusion through coaching and would like to thank everyone who has supported my career journey, from the team members at CBRE and others, the clients who trusted me and the judges who voted for me.”
Quigley thanked his wife and the judging panel, and commented: ”I started lending to the student accomodation in 1999 and sometimes have to pinch myself to think that next year I will have been lending to the sector for a quarter of a century!
“I now work across a number of asset classes and what I will say is student accommodation continues to be a passion.” He recalled being asked by Barclays to set up a student team in 2008 and reminisced how it quickly grew from a team of four to a team of seven which collectively lent three quarters of a billion pounds to the student accommodation sector.
Proving he still has a passion for growing the industry he added: “Anyone who wishes to see me tonight please do so.”
Agency Team of the Year
Sponsored by Abodus
Winner – JLL
JLL’s agency team has participated in some of the largest accommodation deals in the market. The activities of the team show versatility across a wide portfolio featuring joint venture structuring, land sales and single-asset investment transactions, amounting to £3.3bn in buy-side deals and £783m in sell-side deals.
Notably, the team advised on the GIC/Greystar acquisition of Student Roost in December 2022. It also helped push through the multi-million-pound Harrison Street and CDL deal.
The judges were impressed with how JLL went the extra mile with its focus on diversity and noted how it was “different from other entries” with numbers and claims backed up with clear evidence.
The judging panel also picked up on the work the team was doing in terms of environmental, social and governance (ESG).
Shortlist Harris Associates | JLL | Knight Frank | Londonist DMC | Savills | Student Housing Consultancy | TONG | WAU Agency
Sponsored by Torsion Group
Winner – University Quarter
University Quarter provided a brilliant example of collaboration as it worked with key stakeholders to drive home the importance of postgraduate students, who add a staggering £41bn to the UK economy.As part of efforts to promote Yorkshire as a postgraduate destination, the group secured coverage from a university visit to Castle Howard with ITV Productions as part of its programme A year in the life of Castle Howard.It also funded traffic-calming measures close to the university, in association with Hull City Council, and taught students how to eat, shop and dress sustainably with its Green Room project alongside the authority and Aldermore Bank.The company organised links with RICS and built Global UQ, designed to help international postgraduates move forward in their careers.The judges described it as “an innovative project” with “wonderful outcomes” and supported by meaningful testimonials.
Shortlist Abodus Living | GRAHAM | McComb Students | Novel Student | University Quarter – Kexgill Group Highly Commended: GRAHAM
Climate Crisis Initiative
Winner – EcoSync and Corpus Christi College Oxford
EcoSync and University of Oxford’s Corpus Christi College
EcoSync and the University of Oxford’s Corpus Christi College initiative to reduce the energy wasted heating unoccupied rooms has achieved some encouraging results.
The technology, created by EcoSync, uses data, artificial intelligence (AI) and intelligent battery-free heating controllers to transform the carbon footprint of the halls. The successful 2021-22 trial in 32 student rooms was
expanded in 2022-23 to some 350 units across multiple accommodation buildings, delivering overall energy savings of 31%, with some buildings seeing savings of up to 53%.
Other colleges have followed suit and successful installations are already in place in other buildings.
The judges praised “impressive” data and lauded EcoSync for “providing a template for others to replicate”.
Shortlist Abodus Living | EcoSync | Novel Student | Queen’s University Belfast | The Student Energy Group University of Birmingham – Student Living | University Quarter – Kexgill Group
Sponsored by JLL
Winner – Torsion Group
Torsion Group created almost 400 new units in 2022. In 2021, it formed a joint venture with Harrison Street Real Estate to focus on purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) to provide a best-in-class product with genuine ESG credentials.
Since then, it has delivered a 91-bed PBSA scheme in Leeds, a 290-bed scheme in Birmingham plus a 297-unit development in Nottingham.
Its ESG focus has seen it install solar panels, air source heat pumps and MVHR systems. Furthermore, the business has restored brownfield sites into student living and contributed to the regeneration of local areas.
The judges highlighted Torsion’s vision and focus on innovation and the delivery of three “high-standard” developments with a focus on ESG, which “ticked a lot of boxes”.
Shortlist Alumno Group | CA Ventures | Collegiate AC Group | SKA Developments | Study Inn | Torsion Group | Unite Students |
Vita Group | Watkin Jones Group
Health & Wellbeing Initiative
Sponsored by Student Crowd
Winner – Fresh
Fresh has developed the ‘Be Wellbeing’ programme offering innovative solutions for students such as coffee afternoons, puppy therapy and the #BeProudofYou campaign.
The provider also creates bespoke event calendars, with an ethical, local ESG focus, for each of its locations and appoints Be Ambassadors from its residents in each building. The ambassadors engage peers, gather feedback and enhance resident involvement and help Fresh prioritise resident wellbeing and satisfaction.
The evidence of success was clear, with an 82% rating for student care and support, a 76% rating for opportunities for social interaction and a 75% rating for relationships with students in the Global Student Living Index.
The “consistent focus on student experience and wellbeing” was one reason the panel chose Fresh as the winner against stiff competition.
Shortlist Abodus Living | Fresh | Joint Living | McComb Students | Nurtur Student Living | Student Roost | Study Inn | Torsion Group | Unite Students
Sponsored by Aldermore
Winner – Investors in Students
Investors in Students has met the criteria of using game-changing innovation to create an outstanding student experience by providing a 360° assessment of the success of the student experience. It has done this by measuring student feedback and staff and senior management responses to show the true picture of a student service.
Since its inception in 2021, Investors in Students has surveyed 190,697 students and 1,963 staff members and its research helps institutions benchmark themselves against peers.
The organisation has published a series of bespoke reports and helped institutions unlock £3m of investment and increase NPS scores.
The judges described Investors in Students as the “first genuine benchmark” offering. It praised its “smart” application of data to drive real insight for members and noted its high rating among users.
Shortlist Abodus Living | EyeSea Green | Housemates | Investor in Students | Novel Student | University of Birmingham – Student Living | Yugo
International Operator of the Year
Sponsored by Yardi
Winner – Nido
During July 2022 and June 2023, accommodation provider Nido mobilised more than 3,000 student beds across Europe and entered new markets in Seville, Madrid, Dublin, Porto and Copenhagen..
It has introduced a number of ground-breaking initiatives across the business to improve student experience and designs its properties around regional expectations.
Nido, which averages an NPS score 10 points above average, also partners with a psychologist to aid student wellbeing and support mental health. To promote inclusion, it upholds the use of pronouns and also develops a cultural events calendar to support Black History Month and Pride Month.
The judges were impressed by its rebooking rate of 32%. They described the way it conducted itself across cultures as “admirable”.
Shortlist Collegiate AC Group | CRM Students | Fresh | Greystar | LIV Student | Londonist DMC | micampus residencias | MILESTONE | Nido | tp bennett | University Living | Yugo
Investor of the Year
Sponsored by Irwin Mitchell
Winner – Harrison Street
Since Harrison Street launched in Europe in 2015 it has blazed a real estate trail and has invested in approximately 20,400 student housing beds.
Its portfolio includes six student assets that have gained three-star Fitwel certification, something only achieved by 5% of Fitwel-certified properties.
Over the past 12 months, Harrison Street has developed nearly 2,000 high-quality student beds across six PBSA properties in Europe. The firm also announced the sale of four PBSA assets with a total number of 1,657 beds in December 2022.
The investor also demonstrated an impressive future pipeline with 1,500 units to be created in Ireland.
The judging panel praised Harrison Street’s “clear leadership” and highlighted its commitment to ESG and effective joint ventures.
Shortlist Greystar | Harrison Street | Investec | iQ Student Accommodation | Student Homes Management
Legal/Professional team – Student Property
Winner – Pinsent Masons
The statistics behind Pinsent Masons reveal a trusted firm at the heart of the student accommodation legal space, with the organisation appointed by universities and private sector partners to deliver around 13,000 bedrooms with a capital value in excess of £1.5bn.
The results speak for themselves, with its 25% increase on fee income and wide array of clients. It is the only firm to have advised on all DBFO (design, build, fund, operate) schemes. It also advises on PBSA models.
Beyond that, Pinsent Masons embeds itself in the education space with staff members in post as a Student Minds trustee, member of the British Property Federation’s Student Accommodation Committee and member of the UK’s taskforce on information sharing for mental health.
Its work around Covid-19 and the impact on contracts is notable.
The judges said that Pinsent Masons offered “incredibly broad advisory support” especially in the DBFO space.
Shortlist ACBRE | Curtins | Eversheds Sutherland | Knight Frank | Mills & Reeve | Pinsent Masons | QMPF
Private Halls of Residence
Sponsored by Assured Energy
Winner – LIV Student – Belfast
Belfast’s largest PBSA scheme opened in September 2021. The design-focused LIV Student building offers a number of commendable amenities for students including a gym, a library, private study rooms, a games room, a social café, hosting kitchens, a cinema room, a media room, a laundry room, a bike store and outside terraces.
It is the first residential building in Northern Ireland to gain a three-star Fitwel rating.
The LIV Student team prides itself on its mental health support. It consistently checks in with residents and is developing the customer journey based on feedback and collaboration.
The judging panel praised the initiative and highlighted glittering testimonials from partner universities, its commitment to student feedback and its genuine partnership with institutions alongside attention to detail in design and operation. All in all, it is an “outstanding facility”, one judge said
Shortlist Collegiate AC Group | Downing Students | Fresh | LIV Student – Belfast | micampus residencias | Novel Student | Student Roost | Study Inn | true student Swansea | Vita Group and MRP (joint submission)
Sponsored by UCAS
Winner – Hannah Yates, Torsion Group
Hannah Yates, a development manager at Torsion Group, was selected as the brightest talent in the PBSA space thanks to a series of outstanding and tangible achievements.
Thanks to Yates’ dedication, Torsion’s LUNA Student schemes have achieved a three-star Fitwell rating. On top of these, for schemes in the pipeline, Yates has ensured pre-planning credits are secured to go one step further and achieve BREEAM ‘Excellent’ ratings [sense?].
Yates, who manages large projects, also takes on additional responsibilities sitting on Torsion’s ESG board and founding Working in Real Estate, a community of like-minded professionals who discuss issues facing the PBSA sector.
The judges highlighted her progress in a male-dominated field and described her as “one to watch”.
Shortlist Anthony Laville, Volume.Property | Grace Turnbull, Now Student Living | Hannah Chappatte, Hybr | Hannah Yates, Torsion Group | Josh Rosenberg, Harris Associates | Joshua Howells, Novel Student | Nathan Van Paesschen, Student Homes Management | Niamh Connell, Homes For Students | Paul McComb, McComb Students | Romy Levin, Nido | Sam Kingsley, Unite Students
Social Impact Initiative
Sponsored by Howard Kennedy
Winner – iQ Student Accommodation
iQ Student Accommodation recognises it has a unique insight into the lives of its students. The business developed an enhanced focus on ESG with a three-pronged strategy, iQ Thrive, made up of Think Green, its approach to sustainability; Feel Good, its wellbeing initiative; and Give Back, a commitment to doing right by local communities.
At the heart of Give Back is the iQ Thrive Academy, a launched this year in partnership with the social mobility charity upReach, focused on delivering enhanced employability outcomes for students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds – 40 students are being supported. 28 iQ staff act as mentors for Thrive IQ and the scheme also provides ten free accommodation bursaries.
Judges said the initiative is “really making a difference” lauded it as a “great launch”.
Shortlist Abodus Living | AXA IM Alts | CA Ventures | iQ Student Accommodation | LHA London | Student Castle.
Supplier of the Year
Sponsored by EcoSync
Winner – A Designer at Heart
A Designer at Heart’s ambition is to enhance student lives through effective interior design.
The young, female-led business has delivered 9,500 PBSA beds. The team has worked on 45 projects across eight countries with a solutions-orientated approach and focuses on giving institutional spaces a homely feel, homing in on warmth and comfort through a thoughtful use of colour psychology and biophilic design principles.
Its collaborative ethos involves different stakeholders to integrate their views into the final design.
ESG is also a major consideration for A Designer at Heart. Its buildings have achieved DGNB Silver and BREEAM accreditations.
The judges were delighted to see evidence of sustainable design and described the firm as “innovative” with “strong testimonials and a track record of success”.
One noted that the business is “certainly creative and definitely going places.”
Shortlist A Designer at Heart | EGGER (UK) | IKEA UK & IE | Lavanda | TSL | VIDA Living
University Halls of Residence
Sponsored by Beaufort
Winner – University of the Arts London
University of the Arts London’s Archwood House was born out of the challenges of the pandemic and first took in students in 2022.
The university challenged itself to create a highly sustainable, inclusive space, responsive to students’ needs and wants, while addressing the needs of the local community and beyond both socially and economically. Twenty-two jobs and six apprenticeships were also offered to locals in the construction phase.
The 393-bed building, which includes a cinema and games room, is designed with photovoltaic panels on the roof, is rated BREEAM ‘Excellent’ and meets Greater London Authority carbon emission reduction targets. It also provides shared space for a range of community projects.
The judges were impressed by how the hall was “embedded in the local community”. They said its strong testimonials meant Archwood was the surefire winner.
Shortlist Abodus Living | Corstorphine & Wright | R H Partnership Architects | Sheppard Robson | University of the Arts London
Sponsored by Your Tribe
Winner – Nicola Hayes, Abodus Living
Nicola Hayes, operations manager at the Abodus Glassworks site in Liverpool, is described in testimonials as an “absolute diamond” and a “person who really loves her students”.
Her commitment to providing excellent service is obvious and the results speak for themselves, with Hayes driving 98% occupancy for Abodus since joining the organisation in June 2022.
Thanks to Hayes, Glassworks’ NPS score increased to +60 at its check-in survey.
Hayes deals with challenges in an empathetic, respectful and dignified manner with a detailed focus on duty of care. She implements best practice, streamlining efficiencies without compromising service and helping achieve a 3.5% reduction in student debt over three months.
The judging panel could not fail to recognise her obvious “dedication to the students”.
Shortlist Clair Shaw, Capitol Students | Craig McCartney, Novel Student | Irene Allen, Orland Village | Keith Lunn, Project Student | Miriam Vidal Buiza, Nido | Nicola Hayes, Abodus Living | Richard Niedzialek, Homes For Students | Yuan Li, Yugo
University Team of the Year
Sponsored by Collegiate
Winner – London School of Economics and Political Science
A category with high-scoring entries was led by the London School of Economics and Political Science team for its housing management, academic support, financial advice and pastoral care.
It supported students through the cost-of-living crisis, awarding £325,500 in bursaries to 173 students. Additionally, £2.9m was awarded through academic bursaries to 872 students and the university launched new cost-of-living one-off payments totalling £299,475. The team also created a ‘Care Experienced and Estranged Student’ bursary. Innovations include free, fully sustainable and gender-neutral sanitary products across residences.
The panel said: “LSE clearly has an accommodation team that think well beyond merely providing a room.”
Shortlist London School of Economics and Political Science, University of Birmingham – Student Living, University of Derby, University of Essex, University of Warwick Highly commended University of Birmingham – Student Living
Operator of the Year
Sponsored by mi campus
Winner – Downing Students
Family-owned Downing Students has been in business for 35 years and provides the development, construction and management of accommodation.
Its customer-first ethos and 89% satisfaction rating were beacons of exemplary operation and the business implemented a number of forward-thinking initiatives to drive better customer experience.
Innovations include flexible and shorter lease terms and inclusive pricing. In addition, the provider contacts residents six weeks before they move in to learn how they can make their move to university more comfortable, then undertakes a six-week welcome programme to help students settle in.
Alongside this, the organisation has managed to reduce its emissions by 20% to 30%.
The judges described Downing as “strong in all aspects”. They were impressed with the strategy, testimonials and innovation displayed by the company.
Shortlist Abodus Living | Bricks Group | Downing Students | Homes For Students | iQ Student Accommodation | Nido | Student Roost | Study Inn | Torsion Group | Unite Students | Yugo
Hall of Fame
Winner – Jo Winchester, Gerald Eve
Jo Winchester has been a constant in the PBSA sector for 25 years and is a student accommodation powerhouse. Thanks to her leadership and guidance, PBSA has changed from a niche alternative sector to one of the most transparent and trusted investment opportunities in real estate.
In her long career, she has worked closely with many of the leading developer-operators and has helped many major financial institutions understand the dynamics of the sector, broadening its appeal to the mainstream.
While at CBRE, she led a small advisory team to become one of the industry’s leading consultancy firms for PBSA and has been a tireless champion for the model.
As one judge noted: “She has been a visionary, at times understanding where the sector was going before other realised it. It a loss to the sector now that she has moved on, but she has really helped shape where this sector is now and the success that it has.”
Winner – Mark Quigley, Beaufort Capital
Mark Quigley has an esteemed career as a financier to the student housing market. He is credited as being one of the key creators of the vibrant student accommodation market that exists today.
His foresight as an investor led to the creation of Nido Student Housing and he has been influential in growing student housing as an asset class, going as far to support speculative development before the market had matured, creating evidence of liquidity and institutional appetite for the asset class.
Quigley, who has also led on PBSA at Barclays, is described as a supportive mentor for many in the student accommodation space with a commercially minded, consistent, supportive and fair outlook.
The judges commented: “He has always been the first choice for financing.”
One noted: “He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame as he enabled and supported many student housing colleagues and has been instrumental in creating the student asset class we have today.”