The Class of 2020 and StudentMarketing announce partnership to help University Cities

The Class of 2020, Europe’s largest student housing platform, and StudentMarketing, the leading youth travel and education experts, signed a partnership agreement during ITB Berlin.

The announcement heralds the highly successful collaboration, on projects such as the report‘Will Amsterdam be Europe’s Next University Capital?’. The report compared Amsterdam’s internationalization level of student populations to that of other university cities in The Netherlands and Europe. The results and recommendations generated headlines in the press and debate in the city council.

Cities have opportunities to capture a growing number of international students (4.1 million) and benefit from the economic and social impact they bring – an average 10 million Euro and 290 jobs created per 1,000 students per annum.

As Frank Uffen, co-founder of The Class of 2020 explained “Combining our expertise in research, marketing and leadership will enable us to deliver much needed insights and strategy support for university cities looking to improve their ability to compete for global talent.”

Samuel Vetrak, CEO of StudentMarketing, added “As leading youth travel and international education authorities, we are excited about the opportunities we can generate for cities around Europe and beyond. The number of international students will almost double by 2020. Our previous report and research have shown how important it is to act fast and decisively.”

Agreement signed at ITB Berlin
Most appropriately, the signing of the agreement took place in the Youth Travel Center at ITB Berlin following a panel discussion on “How your destination can benefit from the $200bn international youth travel market.” The panel explored why international youth and education travel is increasingly important to countries, states, provinces, regions, and cities. Building on the underestimated ability to raise revenue and traffic, the panel discussed how regional partners can yield long term benefits by capturing future leisure and business travelers in their formative years. Samuel Vetrak, together with a panel of leading destination experts, shared what is new in youth travel and how to best tap into it.

Frank and Samuel signing the agreement

The Class of 2020 makes headlines in The Netherlands


The Class of 2020 is making the headlines in leading Dutch newspapers as it released a report with 10 recommendations for the city of Amsterdam. Research shows that Amsterdam is underperforming as an international student city. The report contains the 2013 conference conclusions and is titled “Will Amsterdam be the next University Capital of Europe?”

Research and conference recommendations
Deputy mayor Carolien Gehrels called upon The Class of 2020 conference to make recommendations to the city of Amsterdam after it became clear that the city is underperforming as an international student city. Research by StudentMarketing has since shown that Amsterdam is indeed lagging far behind other European capitals with 6,6% international students. The report contains the 10 recommendations that were made by the 2013 conference, and shows the opportunities of Amsterdam as a university capital.

Headlines and politics
Amsterdam’s underperformance as an international student hub comes as a surprise to many, which is shown in the headlines of newspapers De Telegraaf, FD, Het Parool.

The report has been put on Amsterdam’s city council agenda, just two weeks prior to council elections. It calls upon the city to work with education and business leadership to create a more favorable climate for international academia. This includes welcoming investment for student housing development.

Download the report here (PDF in Dutch with English summary).

Map: International students in major European cities (2013 numbers, 2020 projections, and 2020 projected percentages):brochure_map

Cities and developers announce new projects: International investors develop European markets despite regulatory challenges

The Class of 2020 and ULI Netherlands joined forces at the ULI conference in Paris on February 5. The first Student Housing Investment Breakfast was hosted and moderated by ULI Netherlands chairman Rudy Stroink and included investors and operators from across Europe as well as representatives from the Amsterdam investment office. All signs confirm that the market is dynamic: new projects are popping up throughout Europe, but the lack of market data and the patchwork of regulations still makes entering the markets in Europe a challenge.

Strong market fundamentals
Attendants shared their experience in investing in, developing and operating student housing in the UK, Germany, France and The Netherlands. The market fundamentals are strong:

  • An undersupplied market that is not able to keep up with growing demand;
  • Growing student numbers, especially students coming from abroad who rely exclusively on purpose-built student housing;
  • Increasing wealth among international students whose high expectations are not met in traditional student residences;
  • Changing education cultures, where accommodation is increasingly part of the whole experience.

New projects announced
These strong fundamentals were illustrated by the City of Amsterdam which is seeing increased interest from international investors. Bouwfonds, MPC Capital, Alternative Development, and The Student Hotel all expect to announce new projects in the next few months, specifically in the German, French and Dutch markets. Alternative Development shared its experiences developing and operating in the London market, which seems to stand out as the most sophisticated in Europe.

Despite all this good news there are still obstacles in different European markets. Especially when it comes to securing funding and developing locations:

Benchmarks lacking
Whether it is equity or debt funding, investors need reliable market data in order to make their decisions. In the UK the market has matured: comparable data sets are available and exit strategies in place, securing investors’ trust. In continental Europe the market has yet to prove itself. There is a real need for a European benchmark for Student Housing. The Class of 2020 is working with IPD to have one in place by the end of the year.

Regulatory patchwork limits capital flow
Europe is a patchwork of different rent, building and tax regulations. In Hamburg a hotel development has stricter building codes than a residential development, while it is the other way around in Amsterdam. In Sweden the minimum size of a unit is 20 m2′s, while developers wish to build smaller units with more common space. In France, investing in individual units is attractive due to a fiscal tax deduction scheme. In many cases the local government has no experience accommodating private student housing developers.

All the different regulations  limit the flow of capital into the markets and hinder innovative business models in markets that need them. It is difficult for developers to create an international portfolio of projects, as each local market requires customization and attention. Because of these specific local factors, a European business model is difficult to establish. The underlying investors have become European, but regulations are local.

Build a professional network 
Each student housing provider in Europe is pioneering in its own market and inventing the wheel. Sharing best practices and building networks will be essential for the growth and the professionalization of the market as a whole. In this stage of the market it is more important to be smart as a sector than it is to out-smart your competitors.

Market segmentation
The panel also discussed segmentation in the market. Upscale concepts are attractive because of high margins and yields, but in many markets the greatest need is for housing schemes with moderate rents and higher volumes.


  • Andrew Dawson (Alternative Development)
  • Leo  Hertog (APG Asset Management)
  • Xavier Jongen (BouwfondsInvestment Management)
  • Caleb Mercer (Heitman)
  • Rainer Nonnengässer (MPC Capital)
  • Wouter Onclin (The Class of 2020)
  • Lars Rompelberg (FAKTON)
  • Rudy Stroink (ULI Netherlands)
  • Eric Thelen (Investment Office, City of Amsterdam)
  • René Tim (Savills)
  • Frank Uffen (The Student Hotel, The Class of 2020)
  • Samuel Vetrak (Student Marketing)
  • Bob van der Zande (Investment Office, City of Amsterdam)

2013 Conference a success!

Over 250 participant from around the globe gathered in Amsterdam on November 13 to discuss about the future of student housing in Europe. It was an inspiring and exciting day. We would like to thank all our speakers, partners and attendees for making The Class of 2020 conference edition 2013 into a great success!

Have a look at the image gallery of the conference day, or watch the 2013 video reports.

Click here to view the attendees list of The Class of 2020 conference 2013.

For the presentations of our 2013 speakers click here.

Read the Class of 2020 magazine below, or find it on issuu.

Mark your calendar for next year: on 11-12 November we will be hosting the 2014 edition of The Class of 2020!