Universities shift their focus to court non-EU students

  • 40% drop in EU student applications causing universities to reprioritise
  • Institutions working to suit their accommodation to non-EU foreign students
  • Housing Hand stepping up to support both students and universities with their accommodation

Most people expected Brexit to impact the number of EU students choosing to study in the UK. However, many weren’t prepared for how big that impact would be. As such, the eye-watering 40% drop in applications from the EU for 2021/22 undergraduate courses saw universities suddenly reassessing the positions when it came to international students.

Stock photo


Thankfully, the huge reduction in EU student applications was balanced out by a 17.1% increase in applications from non-EU international students. “Universities have had to rapidly shift their offering to focus on students from further afield and accommodation plays a big part in that. Students coming to the UK from half a world away are seeking the reassurance of secure, safe accommodation – as are their parents. Yet there are particular difficulties for universities when it comes to housing international students.” James Maguire, Head of Sales and Business Development, Housing Hand

This is where UK rental guarantor service Housing Hand comes in. The firm acts as a rent guarantor service for international and UK students, offering fully comprehensive cover of rent, damages and dilapidations for young people who can’t provide a qualifying rent guarantor for their university accommodation. The service benefits all those involved – the student can access accommodation that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to, while the university can rely on receiving full rent payments and knowing that the cost of any damages will be covered.


The Housing Hand team has seen the shift in student applications first-hand. In 2020, applicants for the firm’s guarantor service were led by students from the UK, followed by those from Portugal, then Poland. In 2021, students from the UK still led the applicant numbers, but they were followed by applicants from India and then the United States. Applicants from Oman were in fourth position.

Housing Hand creates a bespoke service for each university with which it works. The recent shift in the balance of international students has driven up interest in this offering significantly. The partnership provides the university with an integrated, co-branded service that they can promote to their students, while students are able to access Housing Hand’s service for a reduced fee.


“Our university partnership service takes the pain out of the accommodation process for all sides. By providing a safe, secure and financially insured guarantor service, we cut out the financial risk to the university. This is particularly important when there’s so much movement and uncertainty in the student market.” James Maguire, Head of Sales and Business Development, Housing Hand

The Housing Hand service speaks to students’ concerns over finances as well. The February 2021 ‘Brexit temperature check’ from Study UK found that 72% of students reported worrying about increased tuition fees and living costs when it came to studying in the UK. As such, the peace of mind provided by a rent guarantor is a welcome relief to many. Also helpful is the reduction of administrative pressures that it provides; administrative pressures were raised as a concern by 59% of those surveyed.


“A UK higher education qualification is one that is respected around the world, which means that many overseas families are willing to send their offspring here to study. We need to do all we can to ensure that the appeal of attending university in the UK does not diminish. That means providing safe, affordable and easily accessible accommodation for those students in a manner that’s viable for the universities as well as helpful to the students.” Terry Mason, Group Operations Director, Housing Hand