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University Living Redefines Student Housing Landscape

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RealtyNXT decodes the success behind University Living with Founder and CEO Saurabh Arora as he shares the company’s journey towards becoming quality student accommodation provider

Started in the year 2015, University Living has established itself as an acclaimed player in the student housing segment. The company is building a dedicated, end-to-end ecosystem that caters to every need of students pursuing higher education at top global institutes. It currently offers 1 million beds in 12,000 verified properties, with a global presence in more than 180 international cities across markets such as the UK, Australia, USA, Canada, Europe, New Zealand, and Singapore, among others.

With a presence in more than 180 international cities, University Living plans to tap the cities of Delhi, Noida/Greater Noida, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kota, Chandigarh, and Dehradun within the Indian market.

1. How has been the growth of the company in terms of the global market?

University Living has grown exponentially in the last 5 years, having assisted 1.5 million students globally since inception. Our tech-enabled platform now features 1 million beds in 12K properties across 180+ international cities. Having established a strong presence in top education hubs across the UK, Australia, Singapore, and Dubai, we are now focused on expanding operations to the United States of America, Canada and select European cities, including Spain, Germany, and Ireland, to name a few. We have clocked a 300 percent increase in revenue year-on-year and steadily grown by 30 percent month-on-month.

2. Any new associations or tie-ups with the universities globally?

We are the preferred accommodation partners for several top-ranked universities in the UK and Australia along with respective embassies of Ireland and Australia, as well as education facilitators like The British Council. We routinely assist students whom the authorities are unable to accommodate on campus. Domestically, we’ve also tied up with universities that are the top suppliers of overseas students from India, including through student exchange and study abroad programs.  

3. What is the market size of student accommodation market? What is University Living’s contribution to the market?

The global student housing industry has a market size of USD 200 billion with access to a network of 80 million internationally mobile students. Around 8 percent of this comprises solely of students from India. As a market leader, University Living caters to a majority of both international and domestic students alike.

4. How are we different from the other players in the industry?

We are a one-stop solution for all student accommodation-related needs, offering value-added service offerings beyond the bed for a customised booking experience. This includes first-in-the-industry features like an integrated payment gateway for instant bookings and live status updates, guarantor support for flexible payment options, concierge service spanning airport transfer and personalized welcome kits, doorstep delivery of room essentials, to name a few. We have access to an exclusive inventory of curated student accommodations close to campus around the world and offer flexible tenancies to meet student needs.

Our student-first approach involves a 24/7 support team of housing experts dedicated to helping students compare accommodations based on key parameters to make an informed decision for a hassle-free living experience. We have also launched a student ambassador program that connects prospective students to those currently studying overseas for peer support and query resolution. We believe in going the extra mile with a smile.

5. Roadmap for the next 5 years and the Indian market?

In the next 5 years, we plan to set up satellite offices in Canada and Australia to cater more effectively to the demand generated in Northern America and in Australia and New Zealand respectively. We’re also working to introduce inventory management solutions to boutique property providers, and launch a mobile application for ease of re-booking. In India specifically, the plan is to launch a singular platform wherein students can choose from verified and curated accommodations at every price point. Currently, the student housing landscape is quite fragmented with no uniform parameters of rent, facilities, etc.

With the launch of a managed marketplace, students will not only be able to sidestep the financial burden of appointing brokerage services to book reliable and safe housing but also avail other accommodation-related services for a happy stay.

6.  How technology is enabling University Living to achieve their growth and targets?

Technology is the driving force behind the smooth operation of our global student housing marketplace.

  • Machine Learning-enabled predictive search platform with curated housing recommendations.
  • Industry-first integrated payment gateway for instant bookings and live status updates.
  • Artificial Intelligence chatbot for customised support and immediate assistance to the user base.
  • Automation for end-user retargeting to secure successful conversions
  • Seamless integration of value-added services for end-to-end post-admissions support, including Forex solution, guarantor assistance for rental payment in easy instalments, setting up a student bank account before moving overseas, international mobile SIM, doorstep delivery of room essentials, airport transfer, and more. 

7.  What is the current team size of University Living? 

We are a team of 70+.

8.  Please do share some statistics or data which can reflect University Living revenue and the numbers they have achieved so far.

We’ve steadily increased bookings by 30 percent month-on-month and grown our revenue by 300 percent year-on-year, profitably. Since inception, we have assisted 1.5 million students around the world. Our global ranking has drastically improved by 118 percent in the last quarter, and our country ranking has improved by 146 percent in the same duration. Our current website traffic is 57K on average each month, with a spike of 212K in August 2019 alone, and 293.34K user sessions.  We are also among the top-ranked web platform in our industry niche.

9. Which cities would University Living be targeting in India?

Our plan is to target the top education hubs across India, namely Delhi, Noida/Greater Noida, Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kota, Chandigarh, and Dehradun.

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