Highlights from The Class Conference in Berlin

09 dec 2019

In the beginning of November, this year’s The Class Conference was held. This is an annual conference organized by the think tank The Class of 2020, where student housing companies from around the world gather around issues related to student recidence and student life. Here are three main tracks from the conference that the NSBO office identified.

The coliving trend is growing
Coliving is an increasingly hot topic at The Class Conference. This year, almost all of the 26 program points concerned coliving. Not least from an investor perspective, but also from the point of view of construction and social aspects. The speakers agreed that coliving is not a temporary trend but a form of housing that is here to stay and be developed further.

The most important, but at the same time most difficult, is to get a sense of ”community”. It is the community that largely sells, tha adds value, and thus something that needs to be invested in.

Many of the companies at the conference are working with a mix of digital solutions and physical meetings, which means offering everything from apps to arranging social activities for and with the tenants. Several speakers emphasized that it is by sharing experiences that we create community, which makes the activities very important.

Something else that was frequently discussed was how coliving will develop in the future. Some predicted that we will see more of the cheaper concepts in the future and that more people will mix different groups of people in the houses, such as seniors and students or hotel guests and students.

Focusing on well-being produces successful students
The mental health of young people was a major topic of discussion at the Class conference. But as someone wisely put it; ”Mental health and wellness is not a trend, but something we will need to work on continuously in the future”.

European student housing often differs from the Nordic in that it has more staff present among the students and that they offer more services around the housing. But even though the conditions are different, there is much to be inspired by.

Very interesting was that several companies measure how students feel during the housing period and can thus follow up the effect of the efforts they put in. ”We have shifted our focus from measuring how the studies go, to how things are going for the student,” a panelist explained.

Another participant highlighted the risks of streamlining the personal meetings with the students and instead encouraged spontaneous meetings with the tenants. At a more exclusive student accommodation, they had a psychologist employed on behalf of the students. Finally, it was highlighted how to promote well-being through the physical environment, for example in color selection and design.

Student housing creates attractiveness
The need for skills and investment for cities and regions is very much linked to their ability to attract students and young people. A recurring theme during the conference was how important student housing is to the attractiveness of the higher education institutions and how crucial the political will is. It was also emphasized how important it is for cities to set clear goals and strategies for attracting talent and what an important enabler student housing is.