1. OXFORD

Average property price (June 2006) £286,042

Price growth 2001?2006 75%

Annual growth in student

numbers 1.81%

Average local income £22,441

Forecast population growth

2006?2010 5.2%

What the agents say: ‘Oxford has a strong, stable property market which has seen prices rise by more than 10% in the past year. Buying a student property represents an excellent investment for parents?the biggest problem they face is finding a property to buy. Oxford is a small city with a permanent shortage of stock, as much of the property is owned by the colleges, and with houses renting for £1,200 to £1,600 a month, parents who buy in Oxford tend to hang onto their investment, even after their children have finished their studies. The best areas are close to the city centre. Generally speaking, only rich international students (Chinese, Japanese, American) can afford to live in Jericho, where a one-bedroom apartment costs from £190,000 to £250,000, and a small two-bed Victorian terraced house from £350,000 to £400,000. English parents prefer to buy a three/four bedroom house in the more affordable Cowley Road/Iffley Fields area of East Oxford for £350,000 to £400,000.’

Judith Durham, Cluttons (01865 812777)

Investment rating *****

2. CAMBRIDGE

Average property price (June 2006) £265,044

Price growth 2001?2006 71%

Annual growth in student

numbers 1.47%

Average local income £27,146

Forecast population growth

2006?2010 4.0%

What the agents say: ‘Cambridge has the highest average income of the top 20 university towns, so there is huge demand among well-paid professionals for three-and four-bedroom family houses. As a result, students’ parents tend to buy one- and two-bedroom apartments in one of eight or nine different schemes currently being developed in the city. There are some 500 new apartments on the market at present, and with new developments coming on-stream all the time, finding buyers for older apartments could be a problem in the future.’ Stewart Chipchase, Savills (01223 347000)

Investment rating ****

3. LOUGHBOROUGH

Average property price (June 2006) £170,739

Average growth 2001?2006 107%

Annual growth in student

numbers 1.47%

Average local income £21,079 Forecast population growth 2006?2010 1.9%

What the agents say: ‘Prices in Loughborough peaked around August 2004, dipped a bit last year, and have recovered again this year. The university campus is about half a mile from the city centre, and there is steady demand among parents for traditional three- and four-bedroom houses in the many Victorian and Edwardian terraces in the town’s central “golden triangle”, between Derby Road and Ashby Road. A typical terraced house there will cost from £120,000 to £140,000, depending on condition, and parents usually hold the properties for the three years that their children are at university, and then sell on.’ David Woodfield, Andrew Granger & Co (01509 235534)

Investment rating ***

4. BRISTOL

Average property price (June 2006) £176,893

Average growth 2001?2006 66%

Annual growth in student

numbers 3.3%

Average local income £22,174

Forecast population growth

2006?2010 1.6%

What the agents say: ‘Such is the demand for property among parents of students at Bristol University, that there is no risk of them losing money; at the same time, house prices are high and yields relatively low. The main campus is quite a long way from the city centre, where the action is, and the most popular areas are Clifton, Redland, Cotham, Kingsdown and Hotwells, to the north/north-west of the centre. You can get a “grotty” two-bedroom terraced house in Kingsdown for £180,000, but a decent two-bedroom house in Clifton costs about £275,000, and a good three/four-bedroom house in Redlands costs between £375,000 and £465,000.’

Liz Atkinson, Hamptons (0117?923 9236)

Investment rating ***

5. WARWICK

Average property price (June 2006) £213,060

Average growth 2001?2006 68%

Annual growth in student

numbers 4.8%

Average local income £27,041

Forecast population growth

2006?2010 6.4%

What the agents say: ‘Warwick University campus is actually situated on the edge of Coventry, where parents can still find some-thing “cheap and cheerful”, such as a one-bedroom apartment for £127,000 or a three-bedroom apartment for £182,000. Generally, however, buyers?especially those from overseas ?want new-build for ease of maintenance, and they will pay up to £250,000 for a two-bedroom apartment. Nearby Leamington Spa now has an over-supply of apartments, and new conversions offer good value: for example, Clarendon Court, Leamington Spa, is a listed building of one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments at prices ranging from £199,000

to £320,000.’

Emma Hartshorne, Knight Frank (01789 269853)

Investment rating **

6. BATH

Average property price (June 2006) £247,399

Average growth 2001?2006 80%

Annual growth in student

numbers 1%

Average local income £23,966

Forecast population growth

2006?2010 2.2%

What the agents say: ‘There are two universities in Bath?the Bath University, just off Bathwick Hill on the south side of the city, and Bath Spa University approximately four miles west of Bath. Parents buying for their student children going to either university tend to buy a small two- or three-bedroom house where their child can live rent-free and let out the spare bedrooms to fellow students. For Bath University, the south side is obviously popular, and parents can expect to pay about £250,000 for a small Victorian terraced house. Those buying for their children at Bath Spa University tend to get a little more for their money: a small terraced house in Oldfield Park, on the west side of town, will cost about £200,000. The good news for parents is that they are likely to see good capital appreciation while their children study: in the past three or four years, Bath property prices have shown an uplift of between 50% and 60%.’ Graham Merrett, Cluttons (01225 469511)

Investment rating *****

7. DURHAM

Average property price (June 2006) £144,837

Average growth 2001?2006 108%

Annual growth in student

numbers 5.72%

Average local income £21,663 Forecast population growth

2006?2010 ?0.4%

What the agents say: ‘With its reputation for excellence in English, foreign languages and history, Durham attracts children of affluent parents from the north-east and south of England and from overseas. Most want small, preferably new-build properties which they can share with one or possibly two friends. ‘A two-bedroom apartment in one of several new developments will cost £250,000. Foreign students favour two- and three-bedroom houses in Langley Moor on the outskirts of the city, at prices ranging from £137,000 to £147,950.’ Andrew Turner, Smiths Gore (01904 756300)

Investment rating **

8. EDINBURGH

Average property price (June 2006) £176,526

Average growth 2001?2006 64%

Annual growth in student

numbers 1.27%

Average local income £24,963

Forecast population growth

2006?2010 2%

What the agents say: ‘More than 40,000 of Edinburgh’s 54,000 students live in the centre of town, with Marchmont, Bruntsfield and Polwarth the three main student areas. There is always demand from parents looking to buy for their children in these areas, and properties tend to move fast, although yields are low; most have a budget of £250,000 to £300,000. You can buy a four-bedroom flat in Marchmont on the south side of the city for £275,000; a similar property in Nelson, in the heart of the New Town will sell for between £495,000 and £550,000.’

Richard Murray, Strutt & Parker (0131?226 2500)

Investment rating **

9. BIRMINGHAM (ASTON)

Average property price (June 2006) £150,361

Average growth, 2001?2006 91%

Annual growth in student

numbers 6.27%

Average local income £20,432 Forecast population growth

2006?2010 2.4%

What the agents say: ‘Aston itself is not a particularly expensive part of town, and most students would prefer to live in the city centre, where you can buy a two-bedroom apartment with car parking for about £170,000. The main university campus is located in Selly Oaks, where you can buy a three-bedroom Victorian semi or terraced house for £150,000 to £200,000.’

Mark Evans, Knight Frank (0121?200 2220)

Investment rating **

10. NOTTINGHAM

Average property price (June 2006) £120,866

Average growth 2001?2006 62%

Annual growth in student

numbers 4.09%

Average local income £18,928

Forecast population growth

2006?2010 ?0.3%

What the agents say: ‘It is mainly the parents of female students who buy in Nottingham, for peace of mind. Nobody wants to live in the city centre, but there is steady demand in areas such as Dunkirk, near Beeston, where you can get a clean, tidy, Victorian three-bedroom terraced house for £135,000 to £180,000. In Lenton, a house with four letting rooms (three bedrooms plus the converted dining room) will cost between £160,000 and £250,000. Most parents sell on to students, investors or first-time family buyers.’

Lucie Flint, Savills (0115?934 8000)

Investment rating *

11. YORK

Average property price (June 2006) £183,277

Average growth, 2001?2006 93%

Annual growth in student

numbers 5.5%

Average local income £22,495 Forecast population growth

2006?2010 2.0%

What the agents say: ‘The student population of York has expanded to about 18,000 in recent years, especially since the creation of the new Science Park which has attracted serious funding from the pharmaceutical industry. It makes sense to buy in York itself, where there is a large supply of traditional working-class property: a late 1930s, four-bedroom Victorian terraced house in Fulford, for example, will cost about £200,000.’

Brian Jarum, Jackson-Stops & Staff (01904 625033)

Investment rating ***

12. CARDIFF

Average property price (June 2006) £172,759

Average growth 2001?2006 101%

Annual growth in student

numbers 2.83%

Average local income £22,868

Forecast population growth

2006?2010 1.3%

What the agents say: ‘More and more parents are buying for their student children in Cardiff, espe-cially parents of medical students, as the campus is close to the city centre. Most are looking for a one- or two-bedroom apartment in a new development, at prices from £140,000 to £175,000 for single units, to £200,000 for two bedrooms. Cathays, on the edge of the city centre, is the most popular student area.’

Lauren Watson, Knight Frank (029?2044 0137)

Investment Rating: **

13. LEICESTER

Average property price (June 2006) £135,769

Average growth 2001?2006 118%

Annual growth in student

numbers ?0.71%

Average local income £18,126

Forecast population growth

2006?2010 0.1%

What the agents say: ‘Parents are always keen to buy in Leicester, although property values have not increased much in the past 18 months. The university is on the south side of town, and the most popular areas for students are Aylston, Queens Road and Clarendon Park, where a good three- to four-bedroom Victorian terraced houses sells for about £200,000. You can get a poor two-bedroom terraced house in Clarendon Park for £100,000.’

Jason Hercock, James Sellicks (0116?285 4554)

Investment rating **

14. ST ANDREWS

Average property price (June 2006) £190,572

Average growth 2001?2006 94%

Annual growth in student

numbers 3.55%

Average local income £19,903

Forecast population growth

2006?2010 2.1%

What the agents say: ‘House prices in prosperous St Andrews have never fallen since the Second World War, and have almost doubled in the past five years. This is a compact town, with no outward sprawl, and there is huge demand for housing ?especially from the generally affluent parents of students, whose numbers are increasing all the time, with nothing like enough halls of residence to accommodate them all. Soundly built but “ugly as sin” former council flats in the south of town sell for £140,000 to £150,000; a substantial five-bedroom Victorian house, with a licence for multiple occupancy in the centre of town, sold recently for about £500,000.’ John Bradburne (01334 479479)

Investment rating ****

15. LANCASTER

Average property price (June 2006) £137,743

Average growth 2001?2006 120%

Annual growth in student

numbers 7.87%

Average local income £21,427

Forecast population growth

2006?2010 1.0%

What the agents say: ‘Although prices in Lancaster have more than doubled in the past five years, things have come to a fairly dramatic halt in the past 18 months. But with student numbers, espe-cially in IT, increasing at the fastest rate of any of Britain’s top universities, parents are still keen to buy a three/four-bedroom Victorian or Edwardian terraced house for about £150,000 in the south of the city. In the longer term, the Slyne Road area to the north of the River Lune could be a sound investment.’

Geoff Rowlinson, Fisher Wrathall (01524 68822)

Investment rating **

16. SOUTHAMPTON

Average property price (June 2006) £162,404

Average growth 2001?2006 78%

Annual growth in student

numbers 0.36%

Average local income £20,194

Forecast population growth

2006?2010 2.2%

What the agents say: ‘Southampton’s thriving university contributes greatly to the life of the city: its IT department, in particular, draws students from all over the country. The price of Victorian terraced houses in the Polygon area near the university has increased significantly in the past five years, with parents prepared to buy either a three/four-bedroom house with a view to renting out the additional rooms: at £50,000 per room, they reckon on

a budget of about £250,000. Otherwise, they tend go for new two-bedroom apartments at around the same price, so that their children can live

independently.’

Alan Gottschalk, Savills (02380 713990)

Investment rating ***

17. NORWICH

Average property price (June 2006) £152,515

Average growth 2001?2006 92%

Annual growth in student

numbers 1.83%

Average local income £20,898

Forecast population growth

2006?2010 ?0.8%

What the agents say: ‘The recent expansion of the university, especially the addition of a fast-track medical school, has increased demand from parents looking to buy houses in Norwich’s central “golden triangle”, where a three-bedroom Victorian terraced house in the Unthank or Earlham Road areas costs from £160,000 to £190,000. Semi-detached houses on Newmarket Road, also in the “golden triangle”, currently sell for between £325,000 and £365,000.’

Nigel Steele, Jackson-Stops & Staff (01603 612333)

Investment rating **

18. SHEFFIELD

Average property price (June 2006) £140,144

Average growth 2001?2006 100%

Annual growth in student

numbers 2.3%

Average local income £21,269

Forecast population growth

2006?2010 0.5%

What the agents say: ‘The expan-sion of Sheffield’s law, medical and architecture schools has been a big factor in the town’s recent regeneration. Increasingly, parents have been buying for their children, especially within the S10 postcode, close to the university. They are looking mainly around Crookes, Broomhill or Hunters Bar from about £140,000 to £200,000. A tightening of the laws on multiple occupancy has deterred investors from buying larger, older properties needing renovation in these areas.’

Richard Jenkinson, Winkworth (0114?255 7873)

Investment rating *

19. NEWCASTLE

Average property price (June 2006) £154,823

Average growth 2001?2006 116%

Annual growth in student

numbers 1.83%

Average local income £20,898

Forecast population growth ?0.8%

What the agents say: ‘With two universities and two hospitals in Newcastle, parents of the city’s thriving student population (currently 44,330) are now targeting areas such as Gosforth outside the traditional student heartland of Jesmond and Heaton. Typically, they are prepared to spend £250,000 to £350,000 on a three/four-bedroom terraced house which their children can share with student friends. Prices are expected to continue rising in the medium term, although they may level off in the meantime.’

James Abbott, Smiths Gore (01434 632001)

Investment rating **

20. MANCHESTER

Average property price (June 2006) £132,747

Average growth 2001?2006 118%

Annual growth in student

numbers 2.51%

Average local income £19,581

Forecast population growth

2006?2010 2.9%

What the agents say: ‘Man-chester has one of the largest student populations in the country (currently 73,000-plus), producing high-level graduates who are snapped up by local businesses. Although most students in Manchester tend to rent for the duration of their studies, there has been a growing move among parents to buy high-tech “pod” or “crash-pad”-type apartments in pioneering developments such as Abito’s Greengate scheme in Salford, where a 300?400sq ft unit of “intelligent living space” costs about £100,000. Once the children have graduated, they can either continue to live there if they go on to work in Manchester, or the parents can keep it as

a long-term investment.’

Greg Barnard, Knight Frank (0161?833 0023)

Investment rating **

This article first appeared in Country Life magazine on August 24, 2006