Last year saw the second highest level of student accommodation investment on record, with transactions reaching a total of £5.2bn.

According to new research from JLL it was the most activity the sector has seen since the record volume of 2015, when £5.7bn was invested in PBSA.

The agency predicted that with the high-profile sale of iQ Student on the horizon and confidence returning to the real estate sector after Brexit and the general election, student accommodation will smash records with up to £7.5bn of transactions this year.

Key transactions last year included Unite’s landmark £2.2bn acquisition of Liberty Living, which is the largest single PBSA deal on record.

Also notable was M&G’s £37m acquisition of The Project in Hoxton, which was revealed by Property Week at the end of last year.

JLL said the prospects for the PBSA sector are good, with an additional 500,000 students expected to be in full time education in the UK by 2030.

Another sector expected to have a bright future is co-living, according to The Living Capital Markets Q4 2019 report.

JLL said more student developers are expected to enter this market as it gathers momentum, but said local authorities will play a large part in its future because without a recognised use class for co-living, stakeholders are taking different approaches to how they put schemes through planning.

According to JLL there are currently 2,175 live co-living beds in the UK, with a development pipeline of another 14,190.

On build-to-rent, JLL said the asset class “cemented its place as one of the largest living sectors” in 2019, with £5bn of transactions. The agency highlighted the importance of forward funding to the sector, which accounted for 89% of deals last year, compared to 77% the year before.

The bulletin said that there is “a considerable volume of money” looking to get into retirement living as well, but that there remain limited options for investors that are used to buying or building at scale.

Simon Scott, Lead Director, UK Living Capital Markets, JLL said: “Student housing is the big Living investment story of 2019, and with some significant new opportunities about to break into the market, we don’t expect a slowdown any time soon.

“The success of this sector adds to the particular attention already being received by the multifamily and co-living markets, and helps to reassert the importance and value of the UK’s Living market on the European investment stage.

“Overall,” he concluded, “the £11.2 billion Living investment in 2019 accounted for 22% of all real estate investment. With the fog of political uncertainty starting to clear, we are looking forward to Living getting even bigger in 2020.”