What Universities Want In Student Housing Partnerships
After embarking on a first-of-its-kind PPP for student housing with the University System of Georgia, Corvias Campus Living’s leadership conducted a survey of over 100 higher ed execs and administrators to learn exactly what's needed in a student housing partnership at a macro level. Here are the results.
Corvias Campus Living partnership development VP Geoff Eisenacher tells us every school’s situation is different, but there were recurring priorities shared by many different institutions.
Cost plays a big part in whether a person decides to attend college, Geoff tells us. Compound the increased student debt with competition for campus distinction, and the affordability for students affects every major campus decision. In this case, affordability is the total economic result of the overall transaction. For a student housing program, it’s not just rent—it’s profit sharing, cash-flow distribution, fees and more. For every dollar that escapes the partnership, a dollar is taken away from the student, he says.
Easy To Work With
It’s important that the institution and its private partner are able to agree on various elements of decision-making and work within an environment that has ever-changing challenges, Geoff tells us. A campus wants a partner that listens and addresses its needs and desires.
The partnership needs to focus on the students to truly have an alignment of interest, Geoff says. These goals should be well-established in the beginning of the relationship so that compensation to the private partner won’t be influenced by manipulating the partnership in a negative way, he tells us. It’s also critical because they have to last the life of the long-term partnership. It doesn’t stop at the delivery of the new building; it weaves throughout the life of operations, renovations and stewardship of the asset and partnership.
Control for the University
Control is extremely important for schools. The only way to retain control is to ensure there is a mechanism in place for true joint governance, Geoff tells us. A well-established joint-governance structure provides the campus with an opportunity to set rents, influence policy and staffing levels, determine scope of renovations and new construction, etc. It creates an environment where the schools don’t have to continually check the legal documents for what rights they have within the partnership.
Campuses realize that today’s environment won’t remain static for the next 10 years. Having a partner with a proven reputation managing complex programs, solving unforeseen challenges, who wants to be involved for the long-term, and creates a program and governance structure with that in mind is critical for a school to feel comfortable when entering into a relationship, Geoff says. Flexibility within the partnership is key, as well as having a private partner who's confident in making the right decision on behalf of the partnership vs. them.