When looking for the top university markets for student housing demand this year, it helps to remember the factors that make up that demand for off-campus beds.
Enrollment growth is the main driver of student housing demand, as we mentioned a few weeks ago. The impact and volatility of growth vary by type and size of the university, along with other fundamentals.
Headlines have mentioned declining and negative enrollment growth across the U.S. from 2012-2015. While it is true nationally, the trends at the 175 universities forecasted by Axiometrics, a RealPage company, are different. The Axio175 comprises primarily four-year public universities, which aren’t necessarily those where growth rates are declining.
On an aggregate basis, enrollment growth for these universities has remained positive and stable the past few years and is expected to average 1.1% for Fall 2017, according to student housing research. Only 37 universities are forecast to register negative growth this fall, while more than 70 are expected to add more than 300 students in 2017, with more than 90 expecting enrollment growth of 1.2% or higher.
However, growth impact varies by size of the university and market fundamentals. The universities below are projected to see the highest enrollment growth for Fall 2017. All had strong growth in 2016 and many also experienced strong growth in previous years.
The University of Texas at Dallas ranks No. 1 with a projected 5.9% enrollment growth. This is above the university’s long-term average growth of 4.5%, but in line with the growth momentum since 2009. UT Dallas ranks No. 4 in sheer number of additional students. Another university in The University of Texas System, UT Arlington, is among the top universities for expected demand, with forecasted 4.3% growth or 1,700 students. That number is good for No. 4 in relative growth and No. 2 in absolute growth. Both universities have exceeded targets and are evolving into some of the top public universities in Texas.
Georgia Tech ranked No. 1 among the Axio175 in 2016 for highest enrollment growth and is expected to remain near the top in 2017. Georgia Tech ranks No. 2 for highest enrollment growth, projected to reach 5.3%. This is also above the university’s long-term average growth of 3.1%. In terms of absolute enrollment growth, Georgia Tech ranks No. 6, anticipated to be slightly above 1,400 students, the student housing research found.
University of California – San Diego, Clark Atlanta, Angelo State and the University of Alabama at Birmingham are all tied for the No. 5 spot with enrollment growth projected at 4.2%. However, in terms of absolute growth, UC San Diego is expected to record the highest of the four, with a growth of more than 1,400 students. UA Birmingham and Angelo State follow with more than 800 and 300 added students, respectively. Angelo State and Clark Atlanta, last with 160, have enrollment levels below 10,000 students.
Arizona State University ranks No. 10 for highest enrollment growth, but No. 1 for highest change in enrollment (projected at more than 2,800 students). Enrollment at ASU’s Tempe campus has grown by an average of 1,500 students per year since at least 1994, with only four years of negative growth since then. This volume has kept ASU among the top universities for several consecutive years.
The University of California – Irvine is tied for the No. 10 for relative growth, but ranks below ASU for absolute growth, with expected growth of 1,200 students.
The amount of enrollment growth affects student housing demand, which translates into the amount of new supply needed and the ability of new and existing supply to be absorbed in the market. Stayed tuned for which universities are expecting the most off-campus beds in 2017.