The lack of affordable housing for students in Italy was under the spotlight for much of 2023, with students in major cities across Italy protesting the lack of affordable housing for students and some going so far as to set up tents outside their universities:

“The country’s higher education accommodation challenges were highlighted nationally … when an out-of-town environmental engineering student at the Polytechnic University of Milan pitched a tent and camped on university grounds in protest, saying she could not afford to live elsewhere.  The protest quickly spread to other Italian cities, and soon student tents appeared outside universities all over the country.”

University World News

According to the latest Euro Student figures, 68% of Italian students lived at home – the highest rate in Europe. For some students, living at home is the only choice in the face of high private rental sector prices and an undersupply of affordable student housing. Analysis undertaken by Italy’s National Council of University Students in its 2022 Report on Student Conditions highlighted that in 2022, 764,146 students were studying at universities outside their home province.

Significant growth in Italy’s international student population has also contributed to the increased demand for student housing. According to Italy’s Ministry of Universities and Research (MUR), in 2022/23, there were 1.9 million university students in Italy, including 121,165 international students. The compound annual growth rate of international students in Italy from 2018/19 to 2022/23 was 6.25%. Italy’s five largest sending markets are Romania, Iran, China, Albania, and Turkey.


The current bed supply is c.65,500 units. Most of these (61%) are facilities under the management of the DSU (Diritto allo Studio Universitario – Right to University Education), with priority given to students from low-income families and those with a disability.

According to 2023 JLL figures, Italy had a 3.8% provision rate, much lower than more mature European markets, which have provision rates that are “well into double digits.” The United Kingdom, for example, had a 27% provision rate for 2.86 million students.

Rome and Milan host the largest number of students, including the highest number of international students in absolute terms. However, Rome has a provision rate of just 3%, according to JLL estimates. MUR figures show that in 2022/23, Pavia and Bologna had the highest proportions of international students within their total student populations. In Pavia, international students make up 13% of the student population; in Bologna, international students account for 11% of the total student population. Pavia has a provision rate of just over 8%, while the provision rate in Bologna is just over 4%.

In response to the protests, the Italian government has committed €960m EU Post-Pandemic National Recovery and Resilience funding to deliver approximately 60,000 new student beds by 2026. Initiatives include constructing new PBSA, repurposing existing buildings, and modernising current student housing stock. However, even with the addition of these beds, there will continue to be a significant undersupply.

GSL will host an Investor Summit – an exclusive gathering designed for distinguished global PBSA funders, investors, developers, and C-Suite operators in Florence, Italy, on 16 & 17 May, 2024. Participation is strictly by invitation.

This summit will unite the foremost leaders of PBSA across Europe, with a particular emphasis on Italy’s vibrant market. Led by seasoned investment professionals, these discussions aim to explore critical issues and emerging trends shaping the PBSA sector.

Visit our event page for registration and details.

Thank you to our event sponsors: Stoneshield Capital, ASK4 Ltd, micampus Residencias, and C Clean