Tens of thousands of undergraduates are paying for accommodation at universities where developers are cashing in on the privatisation of student housing using offshore companies.
More than 20,000 students are paying for rooms owned by companies
based in places such as Jersey, Guernsey, the British Virgin Islands and
Luxembourg but that figure is likely to be an underestimate given the
surge in building in university towns in recent years.
The holding structure means that overseas investors are able to sell
on the rooms without paying tax on their gains and it allows buildings
to change hands without any stamp duty bill. Complex company
arrangements also give companies the opportunity to minimise the tax
they pay while charging students up to £14,000 a year in fees for
One company collected £2.2m in rental income in 2016 but contributed
just £10,000 in income tax after it paid £2.1m in charges, mostly to a
Luxembourg based holding company.
The National Union of Students
vice-president for welfare, Izzy Lenga, said UK students were seen as a
cash cow by overseas investors, and often had no choice but to take
rooms in “overpriced glass towers”.
Lenga said: “Overseas investors make billions of pounds building
luxury apartments and charging sky-high rents for students. There is a
cost of living crisis and finding good-quality affordable accommodation
is a huge barrier for low- and middle-income students attending our