VIDEO: ‘We are very proud of what we’ve built … our halls are what students want’

By Ian Marland at

They’ve come a long way since mums and dads were anywhere near college.

A new generation of students is spoilt for choice when it comes to accommodation.

And Glasgow like many other UK cities has seen an explosion in purpose-built halls.

Glasgow true and students

Features: true’s £45m halls comes with its own helter skelter slide and rest area

From Finnieston to the city centre, from Partick to High Street – major developments are rising from brownfield sites across the city.

Private providers and developers are now major players in a multi-million pound business.

But so much new building has brought tensions in areas where communities feel swamped by the new arrivals.

Glasgow City Council recently conceded a change in policy was needed to protect areas from being inundated.

true is one of the new wave of student accommodation providers making its mark on the city.

Glasgow true and students

Location: the complex was built on a brownfield site in Finnieston

Managing director Marc Carter says he leaves planning matters to the local authority.

Instead he hails the benefits of halls like his to the new generation of students making Glasgow their home.

true opened its £45 million development on Kelvinhaugh Road in the West End last month.

It offers club suites for single occupancy and en-suite bedrooms in shared apartments, with 589 beds.

Marc says: “We are very proud of it. It is purpose-built.

“We think it has a lot of features that we think students look for.

“Students have a certain amount of expectation – they want their own bathroom, for example.

“They also want central heating and wi-fi so they use their smartphones and go on their social media apps.”

“We give them all that and much more in a safe, modern space.”

Glasgow true and Students

Buzz: the communal space has its own ‘Festival’ zone where residents can enjoy music and gatherings

The criticism of the new providers is that they charge high prices and try to justify their rates with gimmicky add-ons, such as gyms.

true has its unusual features – swings, festival site and even a helter-skelter slide give the common area a playground feel.

It also boasts a cinema, a meeting hub, a library, a café, a fully-staffed gym with classes, a multi-sport all-weather pitch, extra bookable dining rooms, and separate accommodation suites for when family or friends visit.

But Marc believes the market caters for all choices and means – like any other sector.

He says: “One kind find a student room for £99 (a week) and one can pay £250 a week for a student room.

“One pays one’s money and takes one’s choice. I don’t think there is a catch-all that one can apply.

“There is a market that applies at different levels – and that pretty much applies in any market, whether property, hotels, cars or anything.

“The student market really shouldn’t be any different.”

Of true he says: “We don’t aspire to be either end of the spectrum.

“We think our offering is very much in the middle ground – mass market, if you like.

“We did a lot of research around price at our development before we opened in Glasgow.”

Glasgow true and Students

Fitness: a gym is an essential feature of modern private student accommodation

He adds: “I think there is an audience for our particular type of product.

“By including certain services, like a gym, we are finding that young people are becoming more interested in things like health and fitness.

“Gym membership is exploding in the under 25s sector.

“So for a lot of people they may not have a gym in their student accommodation but they will join a gym and pay a monthly premium to join elsewhere.

“We are simply including in provision so they got a mutual effect on overcome cost – and on a personal level the gym is one feature that has excited me the most.”

true has created 18 new full-time jobs, with more planned as the brand develops.

One position is a head of wellness to look after students’ physical and emotional wellness.

Watch: Marc Carter gives an overview of his company’s new student halls in Finnieston

Marc says: “The students coming in have been very excited about, and happy with, their new accommodation, and of course the slide is a huge talking point.

“Studying at university is such an important time in life and we are committed to supporting our residents in getting the very best from the experience, starting with first-class accommodation, but more importantly extending to the inclusive, family-like community we are creating here.”

University of Glasgow student, Aliaa Elesaaki, 25, from Egypt, said: “I’m blown away by the quality of the rooms and common areas.”

Shannon Welch, 21, from Las Vegas USA, also studying at University of Glasgow, said: “This is the coolest place to live in Glasgow.

“Everyone is so friendly and the place amazing. I am so glad I booked to live here.”