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Unexploited PBSA potential makes Poland CEE’s Germany

Coventry University’s Wroclaw Campus

Poland offers scale, multiple locations, good prospects and a warm welcome to investors, experts agreed at Real Asset Media’s Student Housing in Poland & CEE: Data, Deals, Banking, Opportunities briefing, which took place online this week.

Investors who are already present have found the market very resilient even during the pandemic.

“Our property in central Poland has been at 90%-plus occupancy throughout the year, even when the university was closed,” said Armon Bar-Tur, CEO, BaseCamp Students. “We’ve seen many students moving out of their rented accommodation into ours because they want the amenities, the surroundings and above all the experience.”

PBSA in Poland currently covers only 8% of students, with 92% living in private rented accommodation, so there is no question over strength of demand.

“We have 17,500 beds in Coventry and that’s three times the total number of PBSA beds in the whole of Poland,” said John Dishman, pro-vice chancellor, Coventry University. “It’s early days for us, but we are planning to grow in the next few years and we are in Poland for the long term.”

Coventry University has established a campus at Wroclaw, choosing the city because of high levels of foreign investment. All courses are in English, the curriculum is flexible to adapt to market needs and the Government has granted permission to expand student recruitment outside of the EU.

Poland’s polycentricity is one of its market strengths

“We’ve had a great welcome from the authorities,” said Dishman. “We can recruit students from outside the EU, but we see them as the cream on top. We’re primarily there to serve the local students.”

Coventry’s experience at Wroclaw highlights one of the strengths of the Polish market: its polycentric nature.

“I see Poland as very similar to Germany, because it doesn’t just have Warsaw but many different strong regional cities with good universities,” said Joao Sarpacho de Almeida, managing director, Mota-Engil Real Estate. “This combination of local and international makes it a very interesting market.”

The market has developed very fast in the last few years but there is a lot left to do. PBSA is just at the beginning.

“We’re very optimistic on prospects for the Polish market,” said Nils Hübener CIO, Corestate Capital Group. “It has scaleability, there are plenty of opportunities, large numbers of students and many options to choose from. Plus local authorities have a positive attitude, which helps.”