Key Scottish Government review of student housing could be delayed after contract failure

A major review of purpose-built student housing across Scotland could be delayed after a key research contract received no bidders, it can be revealed.

The Scottish Government committed to the review in its Programme for Government in September, adding it would make recommendations on regulation, affordability and the role of councils in provision.

Covid-19 and a lack of supply of housing, alongside rocketing rents in Edinburgh, has led to a housing crisis for students this year, with the National Union of Students warning some are facing potential homelessness.

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A Scottish Government review of purpose built student housing could be delayed

The union accused landlords of “pricing students out of education with sky-high rents”, adding some are being forced to stay in hostels, commute for hours, or sofa surf.

Student housing has also been criticised by local residents as failing to solve the issue of a lack of affordable housing for residents.

This key review could now be delayed, The Scotsman can reveal, after a key research contract set to inform recommendations for changes to the sector failed to receive any bidders.

The £50,000 contract follows a “small-scale scoping survey” that “identified potential areas to include in the review”.

It was intended the money would go towards research to gather information to “further explore these areas and identify any other issues or concerns”.

The Scottish Government was asked whether the failure to find a bidder for the contract would lead to the delay of the review, which is set to be published by September next year.

In response, a Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Earlier this year we completed a scoping study, which informed the range of our review of purpose-built student accommodation and we have formed a review group, which includes Universities Scotland, the Scottish Funding Council and NUS Scotland, to drive this forward.

“A tender was published on Public Contracts Scotland to help gather information to inform the review’s recommendations. Although there were no bidders, there were a number of notes of interest.

“We continue to gather information to progress this and other related pieces of work, including our commitment to a guarantorship scheme.”

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