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Richard Smith, Chief Executive of Unite Students, commented:

“The business has seen a strong recovery in performance in 2021 and is well positioned for further growth due to our alignment to the strongest universities, an enhanced reputation thanks to our supportive actions during the pandemic and our best-in-class operating platform. We have ambitious goals for our environmental and social impact, as underlined by the recent publication of our pathway to net zero carbon by 2030.

“The outlook for the business and the UK Higher Education sector is strong, driven by rising participation rates, increased demand for our product from returning students, significant and sustained demographic growth and Government support for growth in international student numbers.

“We have our biggest ever development pipeline and the balance sheet capacity to pursue new growth opportunities through university partnerships and targeted acquisitions. We are confident in our ability to attract more of the students currently living in the HMO sector and also see potential to extend our platform to cater to the growing number of young professional renters living in major UK cities. Together this underpins significant future earnings growth and attractive total returns for shareholders.”

Year ended


31 December 2021 31 December 2020 Change
Adjusted earnings1,3 £110.1m £91.6m 20%
Adjusted EPS1,3 27.6p 24.0p 15%
IFRS profit/(loss) before tax £343.1m £(120.1)m n/m
IFRS basic EPS 85.9p (31.8)p n/m
Dividend per share 22.1p 12.8p 73%
Total accounting return1 10.2% (3.4)%
As at 31 December 2021 31 December 2020 Change
EPRA NTA per share1 882p 818p 8%
IFRS net assets per share 880p 809p 9%
See-through net debt2 £1,522m £1,742m (13)%
Loan to value2 29% 34% (5)%
MSCI ESG AA rating AA rating
GRESB score 85/100 81/100 +4


Return to earnings growth

  • Adjusted earnings of £110.1 million, up 20% (2020: £91.6 million) and adjusted EPS of 27.6p, up 15% (2020: 24.0p)3
  • IFRS profit before tax of £343.1 million (2020: loss of £120.1 million), driven by a valuation gain of £182.2 million (2020: £178.8 million loss)
  • EPRA NTA up 8% to 882p (31 December 2020: 818p)
  • IFRS NAV up 9% to 880p (31 December 2020: 809p)
  • Total accounting return of 10.2% for the year (2020: (3.4)%)
  • Dividend of 22.1p (2020: 12.8p), reflecting a payout ratio of 80% of adjusted EPS (2020: 53%)

Recovery in 2021/22 and strong student demand for 2022/23

  • 94% occupancy and 2.3% rental growth for 2021/22 (2020/21: 88% and (0.6)%, 2019/20: 98% and 3.4%)
  • Reservations at 67% for 2022/23, with increased customer retention (2020/21: 60%, 2019/20: 73%)
  • University applications for 2022/23 up 7% on pre-pandemic levels
  • Inflation protection through multi-year nomination agreements and annual sales cycle

Record development pipeline, funded through active capital recycling

  • Secured development and university partnerships pipeline of £967 million (c.6,000 beds) for delivery over the next four years, delivering 10p of upside to EPRA EPS
  • Acquisition of £177 million development in East London, providing 700 beds
  • £261 million of disposals, improving portfolio quality
  • Further opportunities to add to university partnerships and development pipeline

Best-in-class platform supporting attractive financial returns

  • Anticipate total accounting returns of c.10% in 2022, excluding any impact from yield movements
  • Return to 97% occupancy and rental growth of 3.0-3.5% for 2022/23
  • EPRA EPS guidance of 41-43p for 2022
  • Targeting adjusted EBIT margin of above 72% over the medium term (2021: 62.3%)

Balance sheet positioned for growth

  • LTV reduced to 29% (2020: 34%), demonstrating ongoing capital discipline
  • LSAV joint venture extended by 10 years to 2032 and receipt of £53 million performance fee

Committed to being a responsible and resilient business

  • Publication of net zero carbon pathway and SBTi validated carbon reduction targets
  • Proactive improvements in fire safety, demonstrating leadership on removal of HPL cladding
  1. The financial statements are prepared in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). The Group uses alternative performance measures (APMs), which are not defined or specified under IFRS. These APMs, which are not considered to be a substitute for IFRS measures, provide additional helpful information and are based on the European Public Real Estate Association (EPRA) best practice recommendations. The metrics are also used internally to measure and manage the business and to align to the performance related conditions for Directors’ remuneration. See glossary for definitions and note 7 for calculations and reconciliations.
  2. Excludes IFRS 16 related balances recognised in respect of leased properties. See glossary for definitions.
  3. Adjusted earnings and adjusted EPS remove the impact of the LSAV performance fee and integration costs in relation to Liberty Living from EPRA earnings and EPRA EPS. See glossary for definitions and note 7 for calculations and reconciliations.


The presentation can be downloaded here. A recording of the webcast is available here.

For further information, please contact:

Unite Students

Richard Smith / Joe Lister / Michael Burt                Tel: +44 117 302 7005

Unite press office                                                             Tel: +44 117 450 6300


Justin Griffiths / Victoria Heslop                                 Tel: +44 20 7250 1446

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