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58% of students would not rent a property with poor broadband a new survey reveals

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Swansea University’s Bay Campus (Image: Swansea University)

With Swansea’s growing student population and two universities, how does it rank when compared to the top 50 University towns and cities for broadband speed and student rental costs?

The latest research by UniHomes, the UK’s leading student accommodation platform, has revealed how the pandemic has resulted in students placing a far greater importance on internet connectivity, as well as the UK universities offering the best broadband speeds to meet this need.

The modern student relies heavily on the internet with much of their course material, research and writing delivered in a digital capacity. Although price and location still take priority when searching for a property, 58% of students told UniHomes that they would not rent a property without the availability of high-speed broadband.

With current Covid restrictions, this reliance on the internet has become even greater as many are now restricted from visiting their campus for the foreseeable future. In fact, UniHomes found that 33% of students are now spending more than five additional hours online per day in order to study. A further 21% are spending an additional four to five hours extra, with 24% spending an additional two to three hours.

Students at Swansea University’s Singleton Campus before the pandemic (Image: Swansea University)

This pandemic induced uplift in internet usage means that 66% of students now place greater importance on good internet in the home, with 29% having struggled to join online lectures or seminars due to poor internet connectivity while studying remotely. 19% have also struggled to access other course materials, while a below par internet connection has prevented others from completing research (18%) and submitting assignments (13%). 

When you add in the all-important need to use the internet in a social capacity, whether it be to stream Netflix or for those Zoom calls to family and friends, it’s clear that good connectivity is vital to stay on top of uni life.

Fear not, UniHomes has broken the UK’s top 50 universities down based on current broadband quality, as well as highlighting those that are not only home to above-average connectivity but have the added bonus of an affordable average rental cost.

Across the UK, the average broadband download speed is currently 32.2 megabits per second and the good news is that as many as 40 of the top 50 UK unis are home to above-average broadband speeds.

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(Image: Brett Sayles / Pexels.com)

Best for Broadband

In terms of all-out broadband speed, Queen Mary University of London ranks as number one. Located in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, the area boasts an average broadband speed of 56.7Mbps. The downside? This connectivity will cost you and at £1,679 per month in rent, ranking as the eighth most expensive university where the cost of renting is concerned.

In fact, eight of the top 10 universities for connectivity are also home to an average monthly rental cost upwards of £1,200 per month, including Cambridge, ICL, SOAS University of London, Oxford Brookes, the University of Oxford, the Harper Adams University and the University of East Anglia.

St David’s student accommodation is one of the many dedicated blocks in Swansea (Image: Google Maps)

Cheapest Rental

However, if a more affordable rental cost is more important than broadband speed, then the Universities of Liverpool, Leicester, Leeds, Lincoln, Lancaster and Loughborough (we’re not making this up) could be the right choice for you.

All six of these universities not only offer broadband speeds above the UK average, but they’re also home to a monthly rental cost of between £517 and £737.

Swansea University Singleton Campus (Image: Swansea University)

Swansea

Swansea comes mid-table – 25th out of the top 50 for broadband speed with an average of 36.2Mbps. This is 4Mbps faster than the UK average of 32.2Mbps. It’s also mid-table when it comes to accommodation rental costs – averaging at £930 per month. This is £49 per month cheaper than the UK average monthly rental cost of £979.

Co-Founder of UniHomes, Phil Greaves commented: “Broadband connectivity plays an incredibly important role in university life and this importance has only increased due to the current pandemic.

“It also plays a big part in our social wellbeing, allowing for social interaction with friends and family at home, or to binge on our favourite TV shows and films.

“More often than not, students will be living in shared accommodation and so bad broadband can lead to tension should one person be constantly streaming, resulting in poor connectivity for the rest.

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“The good news is that the vast majority of the UK’s best universities are home to above-average broadband speeds. So even if you prioritise the cost of renting when searching for the right university, the chances are you’ll still be able to work, stream and Zoom without any major issues.”


The Top 50 list in full

Table shows which of the UK’s top 50 universities have above average broadband speeds and the cost of renting in each universities postcode

UniversityAverage rent per month in university postcodeAverage rent per week in university postcodeMedian broadband download speed (Mbps)
Queen Mary University of London£1,679£38756.7
University of Cambridge£1,460£33749.6
UCL (University College London)£1,806£41745.5
SOAS University of London£1,806£41745.5
Oxford Brookes University£1,611£37241.5
University of Oxford£1,425£32941.5
University of Nottingham£958£22140.3
Nottingham Trent University£889£20540.3
Harper Adams University£1,211£27939.4
University of East Anglia UEA£1,392£32138.8
University of Sussex£1,506£34838.7
Imperial College London£2,979£68737.8
London School of Economics and Political Science£2,486£57437.8
King’s College London, University of London£2,486£57437.8
University of Bristol£1,514£34937.8
University of Reading£936£21637.6
University of Birmingham£796£18437.5
Aston University, Birmingham£757£17537.5
University of Edinburgh£934£21636.8
Heriot-Watt University£858£19836.8
Royal Holloway, University of London£1,440£33236.7
Cardiff University£858£19836.7
University of Leeds£696£16136.5
University of Leicester£637£14736.5
Swansea University£930£21536.2
Arts University Bournemouth£1,086£25136.0
University of Surrey£2,086£48135.8
University of Warwick£1,225£28335.6
University of Glasgow£1,053£24335.5
University of Strathclyde£861£19935.5
University of Manchester£1,031£23835.4
University of Liverpool£517£11935.3
Loughborough University£737£17035.1
University of Dundee£834£19235.0
University of Southampton£1,376£31834.8
University of York£1,156£26734.8
University of Lincoln£721£16634.7
University of Exeter£974£22534.5
Newcastle University£837£19333.7
Lancaster University£723£16733.7
UK Average£979£22632.2
The Complete University GuideProperty DataThink Broadband (Q4, 2020)

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Construction

Housebuilder reports “exceptional demand” as Aberavon development launched

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“Exceptional demand” has been reported as the first homes at a new development on Aberavon seafront were released for sale.

All appointments were fully booked on Saturday as Persimmon Homes West Wales opened the doors to the sales office.

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Two homes were purchased at the Awel Afan development and a further 10 reserved on the Early Bird scheme over a busy weekend.

A total of 137 homes are being built on the former Afan Lido Leisure Centre site on Princess Margaret Way.

Sharon Bouhali, Sales Director at Persimmon Homes West Wales, said: “We’re pleased to have launched our Awel Afan site.

“The demand has been exceptional. Right from the moment we acquired the site and announced the plans, we have seen a phenomenal amount of interest from a wide range of people wanting to live in his amazing location.

“The housing market remains buoyant in West Wales but, even so, the buzz around Awel Afan is almost unprecedented.”

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Opened by the Queen in the 1970s, the Afan Lido was destroyed in a fire in 2009 and the site has been unused since.

Persimmon say the development will bring a massive boost to the local economy through the construction industry and its multiplier effect. According to figures from the House Builders Federation, for every £1 spent on housing, £3 goes back into the economy.

The national house builder says that each home built also creates 1.5 full-time direct jobs – and at least twice that number in the supply chain.

The development will be made up of two, three and four-bedroom houses, as well as a range of two-bedroom flats.

Homes currently on sale include the popular two-bedroom terraced Alnwick with its modern open plan kitchen/diner and the four-bedroom detached Hornsea with ensuite and integral garage.

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Persimmon Homes recently supported Afan Lido Girls FC with a game-changing grant of £20,000 through its Building Futures campaign.

(Lead image: Persimmon Homes)

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Construction

Time to raise the bar on Wales’ housing standards says Minister

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Welsh Government Minister Julie James has announced the upcoming launch of a consultation on proposed new social housing quality standard for Wales.

The Minister said the Welsh Housing Quality Standard 2023 (WHQS 2023) would ‘build on the excellent achievements of its predecessor’ – the standard introduced in 2002.

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Since then, the Welsh Government has worked with social landlord delivery partners to invest billions of pounds to significantly improve and maintain the quality of social homes across Wales.

As a result, by the end of 2020, 99 per cent of social housing in Wales met the original WHQS – a standard which is more demanding than in the other home nations.

Speaking in the Senedd, the Minister said: “Reflecting on the levels of achievement of the current standard, I am sure members will agree that, after 20 years, the standard is due to be reviewed, especially to acknowledge the considerable changes to how people live, work and feel about their homes.

“The world has moved on apace in the last 20 years and our expectation of our homes has moved on too.

“The proposed standard aims to be bold but ultimately achievable. We aim with our consultation to ensure that the voice of the sector is taken into account in finalising these standards and getting them right.

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“Setting standards is not an easy business at the best of times. It is even more challenging setting standards relating to the decarbonisation of homes – which is a developing area where we are learning what works best on an ongoing basis.

“The £220m committed over this term of government to the Optimised Retrofit Programme, our whole house, pragmatic, approach to decarbonising existing homes will help.

“It will provide some of the answers to how we effectively and efficiently reduce carbon emissions from homes in line with our Net Zero Wales plan.

“However, in the face of the climate change emergency we cannot stand still, and we must continue to push progress and set standards to address decarbonisation through a variety of measures in existing social housing.”

More than 900 tenants have been involved in the development of the new standard and technical elements have been supported by experts who have looked at what else is happening across the UK and the rest of the world.

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The Minister added: “I make no apology for proposing what some will see as a bold approach, I am determined the standards bar should be raised again.

“Meeting our Net Zero Wales targets requires us to make determined progress and I believe these standards are fit to take us forward in that regard.

“Our social housing tenants deserve these standards to be the best we can make them.

“My firm hope is that these standards will not only be brought to bear for social housing, but that in the future other tenures may consider how they too might meet and exceed these expectations.”

The proposed WHQS 2023 standards will be published for consultation from Wednesday May 11 and will be open for stakeholders to respond to for 12 weeks.

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Construction

Skills shortages and material costs continue to impact Welsh construction activity

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man in white and black plaid dress shirt holding white printer paper

Construction market activity continues to rise in Wales despite rising material costs and ongoing skill shortages, latest data from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) suggests. However, the sector doesn’t expect to make a profit this year.

The Q1 2022 RICS UK Construction and Infrastructure Monitor shows greater than +40% of respondents in Wales reporting a rise in workloads in the quarter, up marginally from +37% in Q4 2021.

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The report says that infrastructure projects, alongside activity related to the development of public and private sector housing shows the strongest workload growth – with private housing up +48% and public housing up +54%.

Despite the growth in current workloads, the impact of global supply shortages, rising costs and a lack of skilled workers are impacting on activity.

When it comes to labour, 66% of survey respondents said that they were experiencing a shortage of quantity surveyors, whilst 67% reported shortages in other construction professionals and 65% pointed to a lack of labourers.

Despite the current challenges, respondents still remain relatively optimistic for the coming year ahead regarding workloads. However, they expect profit margins to be severely impacted by rising costs. Over a third (+36%) of respondents expect workloads to rise in the next 12 months. However, expectations for profit margins are now firmly negative with a net balance of –25%.

Aled Davies of VINCI Construction UK Limited in Cardiff said that material prices are increasing exponentially.

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Peter Jenkins of Willis Construction Limited in Cardiff said that the impact of the war in Ukraine is being felt in fuel and material costs as well as their availability.

RICS Chief Economist, Simon Rubinsohn, commented: “The good news in the latest report is that the industry remains positive about the outlook for activity and that the generally upbeat mood can be seen not just in regard of infrastructure and housing development but also in the commercial sector.

“However, it is clear that the sector faces significant challenges which have been reflected in recent official data showing a sharp rise in vacancies across the construction industry. RICS numbers demonstrate these shortages are pretty much across the board including quantity surveyors and project managers as well as both skilled trades and more general labour.

“This, combined with problems around accessing building materials in the current environment, is exerting significant upward pressure on construction costs at the present time.”

(Lead image: Tima Miroshnichenko / Pexels.com)

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