CREATING A HOME FOR SUCCESS FOR STUDENTS

 
CREATING A HOME FOR SUCCESS FOR STUDENTS
THE UNITE GROUP PLC | Annual Report and Financial Statements 2021

                             CREATING
                            A HOME FOR
                            SUCCESS FOR
                             STUDENTS
                         A safe and welcoming home enables students to
                        engage, learn and thrive. That’s the philosophy that
                       underpins the core of our purpose, which is to create
                               a Home for Success for our students.

                               It’s fundamental to everything we do.
CREATING A HOME FOR SUCCESS FOR STUDENTS
STRATEGIC REPORT                             GOVERNANCE
                                                                                                FINANCIAL
                                                                                                STATEMENTS
                                                                                                                                            OTHER
                                                                                                                                            INFORMATION
                                                                                                                                                                                01

                                                             FINANCIAL HIGHLIGHTS
                       37.1p                                            29.0p                                               14.4%
             34.1p                                                                                                                  13.2%
30.3p                                                                                                                                        11.7%
                                            27.6p           22.7p                                        22.1p                                                   10.2%
                                   24.0p

                                                                                                12.75p
                                                                                   10.25p
                                                                                                                            2017    2018     2019      -3.4%     2021
2017         2018      2019        2020     2021            2017        2018       2019         2020     2021                                          2020

ADJUSTED EARNINGS PER SHARE1, 2 (P)                         DIVIDEND PER SHARE (P)                                          TOTAL ACCOUNTING RETURN1 (%)

27.6p                                                       22.1p                                                           10.2%
95p                                                                                                      882p                                37%
             91p                            86p                                                                                                        34%
                                                                                   847p                                     31%
                                                                                                                                    29%                          29%
                                                                                                818p
                                                                        790p

2017         2018      -32p        -32p     2021
                                                            720p
                       2019        2020                     2017        2018       2019         2020     2021               2017    2018     2019      2020      2021

IFRS BASIC EARNINGS PER SHARE (P)                           EPRA NTA PER SHARE1, 3 (P)                                      LOAN-TO-VALUE RATIO1 (%)

86p                                                         882p                                                            29%
                                                         OPERATIONAL HIGHLIGHTS
•    Recovery in 2021/22 and strong student                                                 •     Balance sheet positioned for growth
     demand for 2022/23
                                                                                            •     Committed to being a responsible
•    Record development pipeline, funded                                                          and resilient business
     through active capital recycling
•    Best-in-class platform supporting
     attractive financial returns

                                                                               CONTENTS
STRATEGIC REPORT                             CORPORATE GOVERNANCE                           FINANCIAL STATEMENTS
01      Highlights                           90	Chair’s introduction to                    174    Independent auditor’s report
02      Our Annual Report at a glance            Governance                                 184    Consolidated income statement
04      Being purpose-led                    92     Board of Directors                      184	Consolidated statement of
06      Why invest in Unite                  96     Board statements                             comprehensive income
08      Our business model                   99     Board leadership and purpose            185    Consolidated balance sheet
        08    Who we are                     106    Division of responsibilities            186    Company balance sheet
        10    How we operate                 109    Board activities                        187 	Consolidated statement of
        12    The value we create            117    Nomination Committee                          changes in shareholders’ equity

15	Section 172 statement                    120	Audit Committee 4                         188 	Company statement of changes
                                             126    Sustainability Committee                      in shareholders’ equity
18      Chair’s statement
                                             130 	Health & Safety Committee                189    Statements of cash flows
20      Chief Executive’s review
                                             134    Remuneration Committee                  190    Notes to the financial
27      Market overview
                                                                                                   statements
30      Our strategy                         136    Directors’ Remuneration policy
32	Key performance indicators               153    Annual Report on Remuneration
                                                                                            OTHER INFORMATION
                                             168    Directors’ Report                                                                  View our 2021 Annual Report &
34      Sustainability report
                                                                                            249    Financial record                    Accounts online at: unite-group.co.uk/
        50    TCFD                           171	Statement of Directors’
                                                                                            250    Glossary                            investors/reports-and-presentations
56      Operations review                         Responsibilities
                                                                                            253    Company information
62      Property review
70      Financial review
74      Risk management                                                                                                                Page references are shown throughout
76      Principal risks and uncertainties                                                                                              for links to important content

1. The financial statements are prepared in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). The Group uses alternative performance measures (APMs),
   which are not defined or specified under IFRS. These APMs, which are not considered to be a substitute for IFRS measures, provide additional helpful information and
   are based on the European Public Real Estate Association (EPRA) best practice recommendations. The metrics are also used internally to measure and manage the
   business and to align to the performance related conditions for Directors’ remuneration. See glossary for definitions and note 8 for calculations and reconciliations.
2. Adjustment made to EPRA EPS to remove the impact of the LSAV performance fee. Further details are provided in notes 2 and 8.
3. 2017 & 2018 based on EPRA NAV as previously reported.
4. With effect from 1 January 2022, the Audit Committee will be renamed the Audit & Risk Committee. See the Audit Committee report for more information.
CREATING A HOME FOR SUCCESS FOR STUDENTS
02   THE UNITE GROUP PLC | Annual Report and Financial Statements 2021

                                   OUR ANNUAL REPORT AT A GLANCE

        OUR
        PURPOSE

        Read more
                           04                Our purpose,
                                             Home for Success,
                                             provides the right
                                             environment for
                                             students living with
                                             us to engage, learn
                                             and thrive.

                                                                                 WHY INVEST
                                                                                 IN UNITE

                                                                                 Read more
                                                                                             06
                                                       We are the UK’s largest owner,
                                                       manager and developer of purpose-
                                                       built student accommodation,
                                                       serving the UK’s world-leading
        BUSINESS                                       Higher Education sector.

        MODEL

        Read more
                           08
                                              We provide high-quality
                                              student accommodation
                                              that we own, operate and
                                              manage. We continually
                                              enhance our portfolio and
                                              work alongside universities
                                              to deliver their long-term
                                              accommodation strategies.
CREATING A HOME FOR SUCCESS FOR STUDENTS
STRATEGIC REPORT    GOVERNANCE
                                                FINANCIAL
                                                STATEMENTS
                                                                            OTHER
                                                                            INFORMATION
                                                                                          03

 CHIEF
 EXECUTIVE’S
 REVIEW                     We have seen positive recovery
                            in our performance in 2021 and

                   20
                            are positioned for growth. The
                            outlook for the business and
                            UK Higher Education sector
                            is strong, driven by rising
                            participation rates, demographic
 Read more                  growth and increasing numbers
                            of international students.
                            We have a record development
                            pipeline and balance sheet
                            capacity to pursue new
                            growth opportunities.

                                                                SUSTAINABILITY
                                                                REPORT

                                 We are a responsible
                                 and sustainable business.
                                 Our Sustainability
                                 Strategy helps us prioritise
                                 areas of focus and our         Read more
                                                                                  34
                                 stakeholder materiality
                                 review, undertaken in
                                 2020, continues to inform
                                 our actions.

 CORPORATE
 GOVERNANCE

 Read more
                   89      The Board is focused on
                           delivering a long-term
                           sustainable and resilient
                           strategy for the Group.
                           The Board’s composition
                           brings a range of broad
                           skills, balance and
                           experience to our business.
CREATING A HOME FOR SUCCESS FOR STUDENTS
04   THE UNITE GROUP PLC | Annual Report and Financial Statements 2021

                                                 BEING PURPOSE-LED

                 HOME FOR SUCCESS
                  Home for Success provides the right home environment for the students who
                 come to live with us each year from across the globe, to enable them to achieve
                  whatever goals and ambitions they aspire to. Home for Success is also about
                   being the right partner for universities to work with as well as providing our
                           people with the opportunity to grow, develop and succeed.

                      Our corporate strategy is underpinned by our strategic objectives,
                             sustainability strategy, brand promises and values.

                                                     Strategic Objectives

                  Delivering for our                        Attractive                                 A responsible
                   customers and                            returns for                                and resilient
                    universities                           shareholders                                   business

                                       Read more about our three strategic objectives on pages 30–31

                                                  Sustainability Strategy

                Net zero            Resource                  Health &                Opportunities            Raising
                carbon              efficient                 wellbeing                  for all              standards

                                        Read more about our Sustainability Strategy on pages 34–49

                                                        Brand Promises

                  Provide a space to                      Provide a place                              Be there when
                   grow and thrive                           to belong                                  you need us

                                                                Values

                   Keeping               Creating room                       Doing what’s                   Raising the
                   us safe                for everyone                           right                     bar together
CREATING A HOME FOR SUCCESS FOR STUDENTS
STRATEGIC REPORT                 GOVERNANCE
                                                             FINANCIAL
                                                             STATEMENTS
                                                                                       OTHER
                                                                                       INFORMATION
                                                                                                                  05

                          OUR PURPOSE IN ACTION DURING COVID-19

Student                                 University                           Employee
Wellbeing                               Partnerships                         Inclusion
The Covid pandemic amplified            We work closely with our             We are committed to providing
the need to support students,           University partners. During the      opportunities for all our team
particularly those who were far         pandemic this relationship was       members, whatever their
away from home or were unable           strengthened by the actions we       background, gender or ethnicity.
to travel home due to distance or       took to support students.            With the Covid pandemic creating
personal circumstances.                                                      extra pressures for our teams, we
                                        In addition, we regularly provide    focused on keeping employees
We have invested in our city            research and insight to the          safe through the provision of PPE,
teams ensuring they are there           higher education sector about        providing regular operational
for students when needed.               student trends and sentiment         Covid-19 updates and providing
Our student support teams are           which informs their thinking         flexibility for those employees
available in all cities and, working    and planning. Our Class of 2021      who needed to work from home.
together with our Resident              research highlighted student         Throughout the pandemic we
Ambassadors, provide a valuable         concerns about the 2021/22           have engaged with our teams
support network for all students        academic year. Concerns primarily    through a range of tools and
living with us.                         related to being ready, leaving      channels, surveyed how they are
                                        the safety of sixth form and their   feeling and provided forums by
•   Over £100m in financial             mental health whilst being away      which to hear their feedback.
    support to students during          from home. In response to this,
    Covid-19 pandemic                   we have enhanced our focus on        •   Weekly Covid updates
•   All properties remained             creating supportive communities          to teams throughout
    open and operational                in our properties with people on         the Covid pandemic
    during Covid-19 providing           hand to support.
                                                                             •   Recruitment of EDI &
    support for students                                                         Wellbeing lead
                                        •   Over 60 partnerships
•   Six dedicated student                   with Higher Education            •   Launch of new employee
    support teams across                    institutions                         engagement forum,
    the UK                                                                       Culture Matters
                                        •   Over half of beds sold under
•   Over 190 Resident                       nomination agreements            •   Employee engagement
    Ambassadors recruited                                                        score of 75 (2020: 74)
                                        •   Four student and
    in year
                                            parent research reports
                                            published during 2020/21
                                            academic year
CREATING A HOME FOR SUCCESS FOR STUDENTS
06   THE UNITE GROUP PLC | Annual Report and Financial Statements 2021

                                                 WHY INVEST IN UNITE

           SUSTAINABLE GROWTH
                        Sector leader in UK student accommodation
                                    with strong returns

       STRUCTURALLY                              HIGH-QUALITY                           BEST-IN-CLASS
       GROWING                                   PORTFOLIO                              OPERATING
       SECTOR                                                                           PLATFORM
       Demographic growth                        Aligned to the strongest               Over 60 University partnerships
       The UK’s 18-year-old population is set    universities                           We are the partner of choice for a
       to grow by 22% by 2030, supporting        Our portfolio is increasingly          large number of the UK’s leading
       demand for an additional c.200k           focused on the UK’s leading            universities, reflecting our track
       undergraduate places at current           universities, where we see the         record, focus on student welfare and
       participation rates.                      strongest prospects for student        our high-quality, affordable products
                                                 number growth, through our new         and services.
       Rising HE participation                   investment activity and disciplined
       2021/22 saw a record share of             capital recycling.                     Passionate frontline teams
       18-year-olds accepting a place at                                                Front-line service excellence
       university, reflecting young people’s     Investing to enhance our               is monitored throughout the
       recognition of the life experience that   operational estate                     year through the Net Promoter
       university provides.                      Multi-year asset management            Score which drives greater
                                                 opportunity to create value            customer advocacy.
       Growing international demand              by enhancing rents and
       The UK Government is targeting            reducing operational costs             Sector-leading operating margins
       further growth in International           through investments in our             We drive cost efficiencies through
       student numbers with a particular         customer proposition.                  our scale using our PRISM
       focus on attracting more students                                                technology platform. Management
       from Africa, the Middle East and                                                 fees from joint ventures and
       Asian countries outside of China.                                                funds also cover c.67% of our
                                                                                        annual overheads.

       18-YEAR-OLD PARTICIPATION                 % OF THE RENTAL PORTFOLIO BY           SHARE OF BEDS LET UNDER
       RATE IN 2021/22                           VALUE IN RUSSELL GROUP CITIES          NOMINATION AGREEMENTS
                                                                                        FOR 2021/22

       38.3%                                     90%                                    51%
       See pages 27–29 for more information      See pages 62–69 for more information   See pages 56–61 for more information
CREATING A HOME FOR SUCCESS FOR STUDENTS
STRATEGIC REPORT                       GOVERNANCE
                                                                       FINANCIAL
                                                                       STATEMENTS
                                                                                                  OTHER
                                                                                                  INFORMATION
                                                                                                                            07

HIGH VISIBILITY                              SUBSTANTIAL                             LEADERSHIP IN
OVER RETURNS                                 GROWTH                                  SUSTAINABILITY
                                             OPPORTUNITIES
Targeting attractive total                   Market share gains                      Net zero carbon
returns of 8.5–10% p.a.                      from HMO sector                         Becoming a net zero carbon for both
Achieved through recurring                   Almost one million students live        our operations and developments
earnings, rental growth and                  in houses of multiple occupancy,        by 2030.
development profits.                         providing a significant opportunity.
                                                                                     Unite Foundation
                                             Development of 1,500–2,500              Providing support for estranged
Sustainable rental growth
                                             beds per annum                          and care experienced students
of 3.0–3.5% p.a.
                                             Investment focused on strongest         throughout the course of
Underlying rental growth driven by
                                             8–10 markets in the UK, with growing    their studies.
student demand and contracted
                                             opportunities in London and major
increases through multi-year
                                             regional cities.                        Leapskills
university nomination agreements,
supported by asset management                                                        Helping young people prepare
                                             New University partnerships             for independent living.
initiatives.
                                             Opportunities for new developments
                                             on and off-campus as well as            Improved index rating
6,000-bed development pipeline
                                             partnerships for the transfer of        Maintained a GRESB 4-star rating
Secured pipeline of £967 million,
                                             their existing accommodation stock      and improved score to 85.
which is expected to add 78p to NTA
                                             to unlock operating efficiencies
and 10p to EPRA EPS on delivery.
                                             and help to fund investment in
                                             new accommodation.

                                             Emerging young
                                             professionals market
                                             Significant potential from expanding
                                             our platform to cater for the growing
                                             number of professional renters living
                                             in major cities.

TOTAL ACCOUNTING RETURNS OVER                FULL-TIME STUDENTS LIVING               TARGET REDUCTION IN
THE PAST 10 YEARS                            IN UNIVERSITY-OWNED                     OPERATIONAL ENERGY
                                             ACCOMMODATION OR HMOS                   CONSUMPTION BY 2030

13.5% pa                                     1.4 million                             28%
See pages 70–73 for more information         See pages 20–26 for more information    See pages 34–55 for more information
CREATING A HOME FOR SUCCESS FOR STUDENTS
08    THE UNITE GROUP PLC | Annual Report and Financial Statements 2021

                                                               BUSINESS MODEL

                                   WHO WE ARE
                              We are the UK’s largest owner, manager
                              and developer of purpose-built student
                                         accommodation

                                                                                      We provide homes to 74,000 students across 172
                                                                                     properties in 25 leading university cities and towns.
                                                                                       We currently partner with over 60 universities
                                                                                                      across the UK.
                                                                                     Our accommodation is high quality and affordable
                                                                                               as well as safe and secure.
                                                      Aberdeen
                                                                                        We are committed to raising standards in the
                                                                                     student accommodation sector for our customers,
                                                                                                 investors and employees.

                                          Edinburgh
                    Glasgow

                                                                                                       2021                    COMPLETED
                                                                                                                     CITY
                                                               7   Newcastle                           rank                    BEDS (21/22)

                                                                   Durham
                                                                                                         1          London       11,654

                                                                                                         2       Liverpool        6,365

                                                               5   Leeds                                 3     Birmingham         5,919
                                    Manchester
                               Liverpool                                                                 4      Manchester        5,620
                                                    4         6    Sheffield
                                           2
                                                                                                         5          Leeds         5,610
                                               Nottingham
                                                                   Loughborough                          6       Sheffield        4,498
                                    Birmingham          3          10 Leicester
                                                                                                         7      Newcastle         3,763
                                                   Coventry                    Bedford                   8          Bristol       3,753
                                                               Oxford

                                Cardiff                                            London                9          Cardiff       3,481
                                                   Bristol Reading
                                     9                                         1
                                               8                                                        10       Leicester        3,251
                                                        Bath
                                                                            Medway                                  Top 10       53,914
                                             Southampton
                                           Bournemouth                  Portsmouth                                  Total        73,907

     RANKED                          PROPERTIES                                BEDS                             UNIVERSITY PARTNERS
     No. 1                           172                                       74,000                           >   60
     The largest provider of                                                                                    Work alongside University
                                     Operate in 25 cities and                  In properties across the UK
     student accommodation                                                                                      partners to deliver their
                                     towns across England,
     in the UK                                                                                                  accommodation needs
                                     Scotland and Wales
CREATING A HOME FOR SUCCESS FOR STUDENTS
STRATEGIC REPORT                   GOVERNANCE
                                                                 FINANCIAL
                                                                 STATEMENTS
                                                                                            OTHER
                                                                                            INFORMATION
                                                                                                                          09

                                                  OUR FOCUS

 People,                                  Earnings,                               Development
 culture and                              occupancy                               and University
 relationships                            and demand                              partnerships
 We have 1,900 employees who are          We have high visibility over            The quality, location and scale of
 committed to the delivery of our         our earnings, provide sector            our portfolio is a key component
 purpose, Home for Success. Our           leading margins and operate             in our business model and long-
 values underpin how they deliver         in a structurally growing sector        term strategy.
 day-in, day-out and we encourage         with demographic demand set
                                                                                  We have a development pipeline
 open and honest conversations            to grow by 22% by 2030.
                                                                                  and balance sheet capacity to
 with our employees about how
                                          Occupancy is driven by a mix            provide new growth opportunities
 we can improve our offering to
                                          of nomination agreements                through University partnerships and
 students as well as ways to make
                                          with University partners and            targeted acquisitions
 Unite Students a great place to
                                          direct-let sales.
 work. We are a Real Living Wage                                                  Our strategy is focused on optimising
 employer and provide fair pay to         Nomination agreements are               our portfolio through capital
 our employees. Our commitment            contracts between universities and      rotation by growing alignment to the
 to training and developing provides      private accommodation providers         strongest universities and focusing
 opportunities for progression            for the provision of beds for           new investment in London and
 amongst our teams.                       students. These can range from          prime regional cities.
                                          one year to multi-year contracts up
 Our actions are driven by insights                                               We offer a flexible, collaborative
                                          to 30 years providing a guaranteed
 from our employees and students                                                  and mutually beneficial partnership
                                          number of beds over a fixed period.
 and this enables us to work                                                      approach to meet the needs of
                                          Over half of these agreements are
 collaboratively with our University                                              universities and students delivering
                                          multi-year deals benefiting from
 partners across the range of topics                                              accommodation which meets
                                          annual fixed or inflation-linked
 including sustainability, inclusion,                                             university and student needs.
                                          rental uplifts.
 wellbeing and safety which form
 part of student life at university.                                              Our aim is to provide universities
                                          In addition, we market directly
                                                                                  with a level of control over their
                                          to students through our website
                                                                                  capital investment, ongoing costs
                                          and agents enabling us to capture
                                                                                  and student experience.
                                          market share from the houses
                                          of multiple occupancy (HMO)             We aim to be a strategic partner to
                                          market, an area where we have           the strongest universities to deliver
                                          seen significant progress in the last   solutions which work for them and
                                          two years.                              support their growth ambitions.

 NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES                       AVERAGE LENGTH OF                      DEVELOPMENT PIPELINE

 1,900
                                           NOMINATION AGREEMENTS                  ALIGNED TO UNIVERSITY

                                           7 years
                                                                                  PARTNERSHIPS

                                                                                  83%
10   THE UNITE GROUP PLC | Annual Report and Financial Statements 2021

                                                  BUSINESS MODEL continued

                      HOW WE OPERATE

       UNRIVALLED                                                        BEST-IN-CLASS
       INSIGHT                                                           OPERATING PLATFORM
       We have a 30-year track record in the UK student                  We operate and manage 74,000 beds across 25
       accommodation sector, having pioneered its early                  cities and towns in the UK. Our scale and PRISM
       development and since created the largest portfolio               operating platform allow us to deliver the best all-
       in the sector. This knowledge is complemented by                  round customer experience for students, alongside
       a range of data sources and forecasts, which drive                sector-leading operating margins.
       the evolution of our operating model and capital
                                                                         Our teams are central to delivering our purpose of
       allocation decisions.
                                                                         providing a ‘Home for Success’ for students. Staff
       The customer is at the heart of what we do and                    training is focused on student welfare with welfare
       we invest significant time into understanding the                 leads in every city and peer support provided by
       wants and needs of our customers through regular                  Resident Ambassadors.
       research and insight. In addition, we actively engage
                                                                         We are leaders in sustainability, health, safety and
       with university leaders across the UK to ensure we
                                                                         student welfare in the student accommodation sector.
       can best support their growth ambitions.

           Segmented                                                         Passionate
           customer offer                                                    front-line teams
           We see opportunities to tailor our                                As well as overseeing the day-to-day
           customer offer to better address the needs                        running of our properties, our front-line
           of different customers as they progress                           teams are committed to support students
           through university and beyond. PBSA                               during their stay. This includes being
           has typically been a first-year orientated                        available when questions arise, supporting
           product and, as a result, the majority                            their overall welfare and in the case of
           of non-first-year and UK postgraduate                             international students providing cultural
           students currently opt to live in the                             orientation support. Our teams are a much-
           HMO sector.                                                       valued connection between parents and
                                                                             students which is key when students first
           This presents a significant opportunity
                                                                             move away from home.
           to capture market share through more
           tailored service and property propositions
           targeted at students as they participate in
           their higher education journey and seek
           greater independence over the years.
STRATEGIC REPORT                   GOVERNANCE
                                                        FINANCIAL
                                                        STATEMENTS
                                                                                        OTHER
                                                                                        INFORMATION
                                                                                                                    11

PORTFOLIO                                                     UNIVERSITY PARTNER
ENHANCEMENT                                                   OF CHOICE
We seek to continuously enhance our portfolio                 We partner with universities to deliver their long-
through acquisition, asset management and                     term accommodation strategies. We are proud
disposals to ensure we have the best buildings,               of our track record of aligning to the strongest
aligned to the strongest universities.                        universities. Our track record and commitment
                                                              to students has helped us increase the share of
This is complemented by our significant and
                                                              beds leased to universities over the long-term,
growing development pipeline focused on high-
                                                              increasing visibility over income.
quality, well-located new buildings in the strongest
university cities in the UK. Opportunities are                Our Higher Education Engagement team
sourced and delivered by our experienced in-house             work closely with universities to identify new
development team. Development activity is funded              opportunities for University partnerships.
through capital recycling, debt facilities and equity
issuance for larger opportunities.

    High-quality                                                  Visibility
    pipeline                                                      of income
    Our secured development pipeline totals                       We lease over half of our beds to
    6,000 beds with a total development cost of                   universities through nomination
    £967 million to be delivered in the period                    agreements which have an average
    to 2026. 100% of the pipeline is aligned to                   length of seven years.
    Russell Group university cities, where we
                                                                  Over half of these agreements are multi-
    see the strongest student demand.
                                                                  year deals benefiting from annual fixed
    We have significantly increased our London                    or inflation-linked rental uplifts. These
    pipeline since our 2020 equity issue and                      multi-year agreements are expected to
    development in London now accounts for                        see rental increases of around 4% for
    78% by value of our secured pipeline.                         the 2022/23 academic year.
12   THE UNITE GROUP PLC | Annual Report and Financial Statements 2021

                                               BUSINESS MODEL continued

             THE VALUE WE CREATE

       STUDENTS                                  OUR PEOPLE                              UNIVERSITIES
       Key issues                                Key issues                              Key issues
       •   Value-for-money                       •   Training and development            •   Student welfare
       •   Customer service                      •   Equality, diversity and inclusion   •   Operational performance
       •   Welfare support                       •   Health, safety and wellbeing        •   Health and safety
       How we engaged                            How we engaged                          How we engaged
       Our front-line property teams engage      We provide a range of channels for      Through our Higher Education
       with students on a day-to-day basis,      our teams to feedback. We hold          Engagement team, we meet
       supplemented by peer-to-peer              regular ‘Unite Live’ sessions with      regularly with leaders across
       support provided by our Resident          our CEO and key senior leaders to       the UK university sector.
       Ambassadors. We also engage with          provide business updates with the       We engage at various levels in
       students using our MyUnite app and        opportunity to ask questions.           institutions for discussions ranging
       social media channels.                    We conduct regular employee             from strategic planning to day-to-day
       This is complemented by our               engagement surveys with findings        operational requirements.
       customer research programme               shared with our teams to help jointly   In addition, we engage actively in
       which includes surveys on specific        develop action plans                    the wider higher education sector,
       issues, including student views on        We also launched our new employee       presenting at conferences and
       climate change.                           engagement forum, Culture Matters,      contributing to higher education
       Value creation in 2021                    during the year attended by Non-        research.
       •   Provided 50% rental discounts for     Executive Director, Ilaria del Beato.   Value creation in 2021
           10 weeks between Jan–Mar 2021         Value creation in 2021                  •   Provided 37,359 beds to
       •   Offered complimentary four-week       •   Flexible working policy                 universities for the 2021/22
           tenancy extensions for eligible           implemented                             academic year
           students in summer 2021               •   Safety enhancements for property    •   Progressed University partnership
       •   Increased peer-to-peer support            teams including solo protect and        developments with University of
           for students through our Resident         bodycam cameras                         Bristol and King’s College London
           Ambassador programme                  •   EDI training programme provided     •   Secured two new development
       •   Helped to provide accommodation           to senior leaders                       sites in London, providing
                                                                                             new affordable housing under
           scholarships to 166 students          •   Investment in the Learning and
                                                                                             nomination agreements
           through the Unite Foundation              Development team and resources
       Priorities for 2022                           to support our teams                •   Enhanced student welfare
       We continue to evolve our product         Priorities for 2022                         services, including support for
       offering to reflect the range of                                                      students shielding or self-isolating
                                                 Our focus is to provide our                 during Covid-19
       customers living with us, as has          employees with a great place to work.
       been shown through our customer           Our EDI strategy will be launched       Priorities for 2022
       segmentation work undertaken              this year and a new training academy    We continue to explore opportunities
       during 2021.                              providing support will be operational   for new University partnerships,
       We continue to engage with students       during 2022.                            where we can work with universities
       on a range of issues which impact                                                 to unlock operational efficiencies
       on their living habits and, during                                                alongside new accommodation.
       2022, will be developing proposals to                                             We are also set to deliver 1,351
       address student concerns relating to                                              beds in new accommodation for
       climate change which we know from                                                 the 2022/23 academic year.
       our student survey in 2021, is an
       important issue for them.
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See our s172 statement on page 15

   COMMUNITIES                                  SUPPLIERS                                INVESTORS
   Key issues                                   Key issues                               Key issues
   •   Trust and transparency                   •   Risk management                      •   Financial performance
   •   Land use                                 •   Human rights                         •   Strategic direction
   •   Local investment and job creation        •   Responsible supply chain             •   Sustainability and risk management
   How we engaged                               How we engaged                           How we engaged
   Our operational teams are active             With support from an independent         We engaged regularly with investors
   in their communities through                 procurement consultancy, we              around our financial results as well as
   our Company-wide volunteering                undertook a thorough review of our       through ad hoc events. In addition,
   programme.                                   supplier relationships during 2021.      we hosted a Capital Markets Day in
   We are relaunching our Positive              We continued to ensure our buildings     Manchester to update analysts and
   Impact programme in 2022, which              meet existing and emerging safety        investors on our Group strategy.
   includes awards for projects                 regulations, including planned work      Value creation in 2021
   undertaken by employees aimed                for the remediation of cladding          •   Delivered increased occupancy
   at delivering measurable benefits            where required.                              of 94% and 2.3% rental growth
   in their local communities.                  Value creation in 2021
                                                                                         •   15% growth in adjusted EPS
   We also engage actively with local           •   Spent £130 million with suppliers
   stakeholders for our development                 across development activity,
                                                                                         •   Total accounting return of 10.2%
   projects to ensure the design                    cladding remediation and             •   Receipt of £53 million LSAV
   of our buildings, public spaces                  refurbishments                           performance fee
   and community facilities meets
   their needs.                                 •   Entered into build contracts for     •   Dividend payout ratio increased
                                                    our development at Derby Road,           to 80%
   Value creation in 2021
                                                    Nottingham
   •   Employment for 1,500 people in                                                    •   Added c.2,000 new beds to the
       local communities
                                                •   Supported new renewable                  secured development pipeline
                                                    power generation through our
                                                                                         Priorities for 2022
   •   Committed to build c.2,000 beds              first corporate PPA for a Scottish
       of new student accommodation                 wind farm                            We are focused on a return to
       in our communities                                                                full occupancy and 3.0–3.5% p.a.
                                                Priorities for 2022                      rental growth from 2022/23, as
   •   Invested £3 million in initiatives to    Having conducted a review of our         well as delivery of our secured
       reduce our environmental impact          strategic suppliers during 2021,         development pipeline.
   •   296 hours of employee                    we will continue to formalise our        Investors are also keen to
       volunteering in the year                 approach with our next tier of           understand our long-term
                                                suppliers and introduce a new            approach to sustainability,
   Priorities for 2022
                                                Code of Conduct.                         and in particular our strategy
   In 2022, we are developing a
                                                                                         to address climate-related risks.
   long-term community engagement
   strategy, which ensures greater
   ongoing engagement with local
   stakeholders from the development
   stage through to operations. This
   will focus on promoting healthy and
   economically viable communities,
   while increasing transparency over
   our community impact.
14   THE UNITE GROUP PLC | Annual Report and Financial Statements 2021

     CREATING VALUE

     PROVIDING
     OPPORTUNITIES
     FOR ALL
     Government Kickstart Scheme
     The Kickstart Scheme is open to people aged 16–24 that are currently
     claiming Universal Credit and are at risk of long-term unemployment.
     In 2021, amongst a challenging recruitment period with a high
     number of vacancies in front line roles, we took part in the scheme.
     Designed to help boost youth employment following the Covid-19
     pandemic, these roles were required as additional headcount, as
     opposed to replacing existing roles. We hired 83 individuals between
     the ages of 18–24 who had been on Universal Credit, offering them
     six month job placements and training to develop key employment
     skills, paid at the National Living Wage. We remain committed to the
     Kickstart Scheme moving forward.

     For more about this project, go online to: unite-group.co.uk/creatingvalue
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                                                     SECTION 172

              Statement by the Directors in accordance with
                 Section 172(1) of the Companies Act 2006

Meeting the needs and expectations         Through measurement against                  In 2021, we held a Capital Markets Day
of our stakeholders is fundamental         long-term objectives, the Board              in Manchester where we shared our
to delivery of our purpose, Home           monitors how management is acting            strategy and approach to longer term
for Success. Acting in the long-term       in accordance with the Board’s agreed        sustainability, alongside tours of our
interests of the business and all our      strategy and the long-term interests of      operations in the city with our local
stakeholders, including students, our      our key stakeholders.                        teams. Reflecting requests from investors
people, universities, the communities                                                   for greater transparency around the
we operate in, our suppliers and our       Our investors                                costs of environmental initiatives, the
investors, is central to the Board’s                                                    presentation provided new disclosure
                                           The Board recognises that acting fairly
decision-making process and shapes                                                      around planned investments and EPC
                                           in the interests of all shareholders
the Group’s strategy. Our Board also                                                    ratings across the portfolio.
                                           increases investor confidence, reduces
considers the impact of the Company’s
                                           our cost of capital and ensures good
operations on the environment and the                                                   Through engagement with investors
                                           governance. This also supports the
risks posed by climate change.                                                          and conscious of our values, in
                                           ability of the business to invest and
                                                                                        particular ‘Doing what’s right’, the
                                           grow through access to capital when it is
In all decision making, the potential                                                   Board oversaw the renewal of the
                                           required. We provide all investors with
impact on our stakeholders is taken                                                     Group’s revolving credit facility which
                                           equal access to information through
into account, together with the likely                                                  was converted into a sustainable loan
                                           our public reporting for financial results
consequences of these decisions in the                                                  agreement with KPIs linked to our
                                           and trading statements, as well as
long term and also the desirability of                                                  environmental and social initiatives.
                                           additional disclosures in areas such as
the Company maintaining a reputation
                                           sustainability through our corporate
for high standards of business conduct                                                  The interests of our employees
                                           website. In addition, we engage
(see principal decision making as
                                           regularly with investors at conferences      As a service business, providing homes
further detailed on pages 110–114 and
                                           and ad hoc meetings, which address           for 74,000 young people, often their
stakeholder engagement on pages
                                           investor groups from a range of markets      first time living away from home, the
12–13). These considerations are central
                                           and of differing sizes.                      Board recognises the importance of our
to delivering our Home for Success
                                                                                        employees and the role they play in our
purpose, which include, for example,
                                           In 2021, the Remuneration Committee          business. Engaging with our people has
when we offered rental discounts
                                           conducted a consultation with the            been especially important through the
to students (as further detailed on
                                           Company’s twenty largest shareholders        pandemic. During 2021, we established
page 21) and the development of our
                                           regarding the renewal of the                 our new employee engagement forum,
Net Zero Carbon Pathway (as further
                                           Remuneration Policy, which will be           Culture Matters, providing a quarterly
detailed on page 26).
                                           presented to shareholders for approval       forum where employee feedback and
                                           at the 2022 AGM. The outcome of              engagement can be tabled formally. Our
The Board maintains oversight of the
                                           shareholder feedback confirmed               Non-Executive Director for Workforce
Company’s performance, and reserves
                                           that the current Remuneration                Engagement, Ilaria del Beato, attends the
specific matters for approval, including
                                           Policy in respect of salaries, pension       Culture Matters meetings and provides
significant new strategic initiatives
                                           contributions and performance-linked         regular updates to the Board, ensuring
and major decisions relating to capital
                                           short and long-term incentives remains       consideration is given to employee
raising and allocation.
                                           appropriate and fit-for-purpose, with        needs and concerns. The Board also
To help the Board understand our           suggested minor refinements to include       understands employees’ views through
wider stakeholder relationships and        a simplified annual bonus deferral           our regular employee surveys as well as
inform the Board’s decision-making,        approach. We proposed changing the           ‘Unite Live’ sessions with our CEO and
the Board receives regular updates         financial metrics of the annual bonus        senior leaders enabling employees to
from the Executive team, as well as the    from 70% to 60% allowing for an              ask questions directly of the CEO and
wider senior leadership team including     increase in non-financial ESG metrics        leadership team. Our commitment to
the Group People Director, the Group       from 30% to 40% however following            employee engagement can be seen by
Investment & Sustainability Director,      shareholder feedback, the current            our employee engagement score of 75
the Group Energy & Environmental           70/30 split of financial and non-financial   (2020: 74).
Manager, the Higher Education              metrics will remain. Further information
Director, Head of Fund Management          on the Remuneration Policy can be
and the Group Legal Director and           found in the Remuneration Committee
Company Secretary.                         Chair’s Introduction to the Director
                                           Remuneration Policy on page 136.             Further information on employee engagement
                                                                                        can be found on pages 99–102
16   THE UNITE GROUP PLC | Annual Report and Financial Statements 2021

                                                   SECTION 172 continued

     The need to foster business                Our Higher Education Engagement            public spaces and community facilities
     relationships with our customers,          Team meets regularly with university       also meets their needs. Our high-
     University partners and suppliers          leaders and teams at various levels        quality properties provide additional
     Customers                                  enabling us to discuss this strategic      economic benefit for local businesses
                                                planning as well as day-to-day             and development activity helps
     Our purpose, Home for Success, is to
                                                operational requirements. This             regenerate local areas, deliver public
     provide a safe and welcoming home for
                                                feedback is shared with our Board          realm improvements and create new
     students to engage, learn and thrive
                                                who in turn consider our strategies for    community spaces. Our operational
     at university, while preparing them
                                                delivering value to universities. Our      and property teams actively engage
     for life beyond. Our student survey
                                                annual Higher Education Engagement         with communities through public
     programme provided an opportunity
                                                survey provides the Board with             services, local authorities and local
     for students to provide direct and frank
                                                key insight into our reputation and        businesses. Our Positive Impact
     feedback which enabled us to listen
                                                performance with our university            programme encourages our teams to
     to the student voice to understand
                                                partners as further detailed as part of    work with local stakeholders.
     what is important to them during their
                                                our Higher Education Trust operational
     time living with us and also on wider                                                 The environment
                                                KPI on page 33. This helps inform
     topics. During 2021, climate change
                                                the way we improve our product and         As a responsible business, our wider
     was reported as a top priority for our
                                                service. The Board is also regularly       stakeholders demand we proactively
     customers and accordingly we plan
                                                updated on trends in the Higher            manage environmental, social and
     to increase engagement with them
                                                Education sector in the UK and globally,   governance risks. Moreover, we
     on how they can develop sustainable
                                                which inform the Group’s strategy          understand the significant contribution
     living habits.
                                                around the universities with which it      that property makes to global CO2
                                                seeks to partner over the long-term.       emissions and how essential it is that
     The Board reviews the Net Promoter
     Score from our student surveys. This                                                  we play our part in the fight against
                                                Suppliers                                  climate change while keeping in mind
     helps the Board decide where to invest
     in customer service and property           We work with a wide range of suppliers     the likely consequence of our decisions
     enhancements to ensure we deliver          across our operations and development      in the long-term.
     value-for-money for our customers.         activities to deliver a high-quality,
                                                affordable customer offer.                 The Board has oversight of our
     Our city teams engage with our                                                        environmental impact through review
     student customers on a day-to-day          Our teams maintained strong                of our Sustainability Strategy, which
     basis, covering welfare issues which       relationships with suppliers and           was approved by the Board in 2020
     have increased during Covid-19. This       throughout Covid-19. This was              and launched externally in 2021. This
     is complemented by our Resident            especially important during Covid-19       new strategy specifies clear targets to
     Ambassadors, who provide peer-to-          when we initially paused development       reduce our environmental impact over
     peer support to students, and organise     activity at Middlesex Street, London       time. In addition, our Net Zero Carbon
     activities in our properties to help       and Campbell House, Bristol, and           Pathway, published in December 2021,
     foster like-minded communities.            subsequently resumed activity in           details our approach to reach net zero
                                                early 2021. The Board recognises the       carbon across our operations and
     University partners                        importance of supplier relationships       developments by 2030. Engagement
                                                and were provided with regular             around environmental impact comes
     Universities are key strategic
                                                updates throughout the year which          indirectly through feedback from
     stakeholders, directly accounting for
                                                included feedback following a              investors, students, universities and
     around half of our reservations each
                                                thorough review of our supplier            local communities, all of which is
     year under nomination agreements and
                                                relationships and interviews with          considered by the Board. During the
     the other half indirectly through their
                                                our twenty-five strategic suppliers.       year, the Sustainability Committee
     students who book directly with us. The
                                                                                           considered the Group’s approach to
     reputation, health and future growth of
                                                Our impact on the community                climate disclosures under Task Force
     our University partners remains central
                                                and the environment                        on Climate-related Financial Disclosure
     to our business prospects.
                                                                                           (TCFD), providing feedback which
                                                Community
     Partnering with the strongest                                                         has shaped the enhanced reporting
                                                Home for Success is about creating a       included in this Annual Report.
     universities helps us provide a range
                                                sense of belonging and community
     of different approaches delivering
                                                both in our properties and beyond.
     solutions which work for our partners
                                                To maximise the value we create for
     and support their growth ambitions.
                                                communities and ensure our ability to
     Through this partnering, we can explore
                                                continue to operate and grow within
     opportunities for new University                                                      Further information on our Sustainability Strategy
                                                them, we seek to build trusted, long-
     partnerships, where we can unlock                                                     can be found on pages 34–55
                                                term relationships with community
     operational efficiencies, alongside new
                                                partners. This can be seen in our
     accommodation options. This in turn
                                                development activity where we actively
     helps support our improved day-to-day
                                                engage with local communities to
     operations and our longer-term growth.
                                                ensure the design of our buildings,
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STAKEHOLDER     STAKEHOLDER CONCERN                    OUR RESPONSE

Investors       Our investors wanted to understand     Our 2021 Capital Markets Day set out the Group’s strategy to deliver on
                our business, its resilience           its purpose, ‘Home for Success’. The event focused on enhancing the
                through Covid-19 and longer term       student experience and discussed planned investments in the portfolio to
                sustainability, as well as be kept     drive rental growth. It also explored the ways in which we are improving
                up-to-date with events impacting       our environmental and social impact and how we plan to deliver financial
                financial returns.                     returns to our shareholders.

                                                       In 2021, we reinstated our dividend payments with a payout ratio of 80%
                                                       of adjusted EPS as market conditions stabilised.

Employees       Our employees were concerned           We obtained a BSC Covid Secure status to ensure health and safety in our
                about the impact of Covid-19 on        operations through the pandemic.
                their health and wellbeing in their
                                                       We are trialling a new Hybrid Flexible Working Policy and expanded the
                workplace, its impact on our day-
                                                       training and resources we provide to our people around health, safety and
                to-day business operations and
                                                       wellbeing as well as enhancing mental health provision.
                the resilience of our longer term
                business.                              In 2021, we hired a Diversity, Inclusion & Wellbeing lead who is
                                                       developing our EDI & Wellbeing strategy and helping us embed equality,
                Our employees were concerned
                                                       diversity, inclusion and wellbeing into our culture through a learning and
                about equality, diversity and
                                                       development programme.
                inclusivity (EDI).

Customers       Our customers wanted action on         Throughout the year, we engaged with students on a range of issues which
                climate change.                        impact on their stay in our properties. In light of their feedback on the
                                                       climate change survey, we are developing initiatives focused on how they
                                                       can play a role in making their stay more sustainable which we know is an
                                                       important issue for them.

                Our customers wanted increased         We increased peer-to-peer support for students through our new Resident
                support.                               Ambassador programme, which provides invaluable support to students in
                                                       finding like-minded students. The Resident Ambassadors are focused on
                                                       finding the voice of the student community in properties and are working
                                                       with our property teams to deliver a personalised student experience.

                Our customers wanted more value-       We improved our hassle-free, value-for-money offer to attract customers
                for-money.                             currently living in houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs) and are seeing an
                                                       increase in sales to UK second and third year students and a meaningful
                                                       increase in re-booking activity for 2022/23.

University      Our University partners wanted         We maintained regular contact with our university partners updating
partners        clarity on the Covid-19 measures in    them on the latest Covid-19 measures and working with them to support
                place across our properties.           students throughout the year. Our properties remained open and
                                                       operational throughout the pandemic.
                Our University partners wanted
                to be supported in their growth        We regularly engaged with university teams to offer a range of different
                ambitions.                             approaches which ensured we delivered the right solutions for them and
                                                       are focused to work with universities to unlock operational efficiencies
                                                       alongside new accommodation requirements.

Suppliers       Our suppliers wanted longer term       To help ensure we have longer term and valuable supplier relationships,
                relationships.                         we undertook a thorough review of our supplier relationships during
                                                       2021 with support from a third-party procurement consultancy, including
                                                       interviews with our twenty-five strategic suppliers.

The community   Our local communities wanted           Throughout 2021 and through our development activity, we employ over
and the         to ensure they benefit from our        1,500 roles in local communities. In addition, we invested £3 million in
environment     presence in their communities.         initiatives to reduce our environmental impact and over 296 hours of
                                                       employee volunteering was carried out in the year.
                We continue to be aware of the
                growing importance on climate          A structured community engagement strategy is being developed to
                change and environmental, social       ensure greater ongoing engagement from the development stage through
                and governance issues for all of our   to operations.
                stakeholders.
                                                       Our Sustainability Committee was formed in 2021 to provide formal
                                                       oversight and challenge to the execution of the Group’s Sustainability
                                                       Strategy launched in 2021. In addition, sustainability performance
                                                       measures are being introduced into the Executive remuneration.
18   THE UNITE GROUP PLC | Annual Report and Financial Statements 2021

                                              CHAIR’S STATEMENT

     A ROBUST PERFORMANCE
                         We continued to do what’s right for all
                          stakeholders, in line with our values

                           “During the year the business returned to
                             earnings growth, increased occupancy,
                               grew the development pipeline and
                           delivered disposals to enhance the quality
                            of the portfolio. We also continued to do
                           what’s right for all stakeholders, including
                               providing further financial support
                                           to students.”
                                                  Richard Huntingford
                                                         Chair

                                                                Dear Shareholders,

                                                                2021 has been a successful year for Unite, in which
                                                                we have delivered a strong performance despite the
                                                                challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. I would
                                                                like to start by thanking all our staff across the group
                                                                for the hard work and resilience they have shown
                                                                to deliver for our student and university customers
                                                                and position the business for future growth. I would
                                                                also like to thank our university partners for their
                                                                ongoing support.

                                                                During the year the business returned to earnings growth,
                                                                increased occupancy, grew the development pipeline and
                                                                delivered disposals to enhance the quality of the portfolio.
                                                                We also continued to do what’s right for all stakeholders,
                                                                in line with our values, including providing further financial
                                                                support to students.

                                                                The year in review
                                                                2021 saw a recovery in our financial performance and a
                                                                return to growth. Across our portfolio, the Group delivered
                                                                an improvement in occupancy to 94% for the 2021/22
                                                                academic year (2020/21: 88%) alongside 2.3% rental
                                                                growth, reflecting strong student demand. Together with a
                                                                lower impact from rental discounts offered in response to
                                                                the pandemic, this resulted in a 15% increase in adjusted
                                                                EPS to 27.6p (2020: 24.0p).
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                                                                                                                                                               19

14.4%                                                        3.4%                 3.4%                                     71.3%    71.7%
           13.2%                                                        3.2%                                       67.9%
                      11.7%                                                                                                                 62.1%   62.3%
                                           10.2%                                                        2.3%

2017       2018       2019       -3.4%     2021
                                                             2017       2018      2019       -0.6%      2021
                                 2020                                                        2020                  2017    2018     2019    2020    2021

TOTAL ACCOUNTING RETURN1                                    RENTAL GROWTH1                                         ADJUSTED EBIT MARGIN1

10.2%                                                       2.3%                                                   62.3%
Investor demand for the student                             This activity will support sustainable                 I would like to thank Phil for his
accommodation sector remains strong                         rental growth through our value-for-                   leadership over many years and his
which, together with rental growth,                         money offer and margin improvements                    contribution to the growth of Unite and
supported a 4.6% revaluation uplift in                      over time. Our secured development                     making Unite the business it is today.
the property portfolio during the year.                     pipeline also offers significant visibility            I have a strong empathy for Unite’s
This contributed to 8% growth in our                        over future growth in earnings and                     ‘Home for Success’ purpose and have
EPRA NTA to 882p (31 December 2020:                         net assets.                                            been hugely impressed by the talent and
818p) and a return to an IFRS profit                                                                               commitment of our teams since joining
before tax of £343.1 million (2020: loss                    A responsible and resilient business                   the business.
of £120.1 million), equating to IFRS EPS
                                                            We are committed to creating a
of 85.9p (2020: loss of 31.8p).                                                                                    We have a strong Board with a mix of
                                                            responsible and resilient business, which
                                                                                                                   complementary skills as well as diversity
                                                            delivers for all of our stakeholders over
The balance sheet remains in robust                                                                                of knowledge, background and gender.
                                                            the long term. This commitment has
health with LTV reduced to 29% following                                                                           As a team, we bring a range of expertise
                                                            shaped our response to the pandemic,
£261 million of disposals in the year and                                                                          from the higher education, real estate,
                                                            during which we have acted to protect
receipt of a £53 million performance                                                                               finance and hospitality sectors. During
                                                            the interests of students, our university
fee from our LSAV joint venture. This                                                                              the year, Richard Akers stepped down
                                                            partners, employees and investors.
provides the financial capacity to deliver                                                                         from the Board in view of his other
                                                            We have placed significant focus on
our secured development pipeline and                                                                               business commitments. Richard was
                                                            the health, safety and wellbeing of our
pursue new growth opportunities.                                                                                   a very valuable member of the Unite
                                                            customers and our people by reducing
                                                                                                                   Board with his wealth of experience
Reflecting the improving trading                            risks in our buildings as far as possible
                                                                                                                   of the wider property market and his
outlook and the Board’s confidence                          and supporting those needing to self-
                                                                                                                   sound judgement. On behalf of the
in the Group’s future outlook, the                          isolate. Recognising the disruption caused
                                                                                                                   Board, we wish Richard well.
proposed dividend for the year has                          to students during the national lockdown
been increased by 73% to 22.1p.                             in early 2021, we offered additional rental            Based on our year end Board
                                                            discounts to students unable to use their              composition, we meet the Hampton
                                                            accommodation. We have now provided                    Alexander gender target with 33% of
Delivery of our strategy
                                                            over £100 million in financial support to              the Board being female and will look
Unite is the largest operator of                            students during the pandemic. The Board                to further broaden the diversity of our
purpose-built student accommodation                         believes this response has strengthened                Board in the coming years.
in the UK with 74,000 beds across 25                        our reputation with students, parents,
leading university towns and cities and                     universities and Government.
celebrated its 30th anniversary this                                                                               Looking forward
year. The business growth to date has                       Our new Sustainability Strategy, launched              There is growing demand for UK
been built on the solid foundations                         in early 2021, includes stretching                     Higher Education and an unmet need
of a best-in-class operating platform,                      new targets for how we will reduce                     for the high-quality, value-for-money
high-quality portfolio, trusted university                  our environmental impact, improve                      accommodation that we provide. These
relationships and in-house development                      opportunities for employees and raise                  drivers support strong organic growth,
capability. Our aim is to further develop                   standards across the student housing                   underpin demand for our secured
this platform to create a sector-leading                    sector. We published our Net Zero                      developments and create opportunities
business, which delivers value for                          Carbon Pathway at the end of 2021, which               for new growth through development,
its customers, attractive returns for                       sets out the activities and investments                strategic partnerships with universities
shareholders and has a positive impact                      required by the business to meet our                   and potentially expansion into other
on the environment and wider society.                       2030 net zero ambition. Delivery and                   complementary living sectors to our
                                                            development of this strategy is being                  operating platform and customer focus.
As outlined at our Capital Markets Day                      overseen by our new Sustainability                     As a result, I look forward with great
in October 2021, our stakeholders have                      Committee, formed during 2021.                         confidence to the Group delivering
rising expectations around our product,                                                                            attractive and growing returns to
service and wider business impact on the                                                                           shareholders over the coming years.
                                                            Board changes
environment and society. In response,
our strategy is focused on delivering an                    This is my first year as Chair, following
                                                                                                                   Richard Huntingford
enhanced experience for our customers,                      Phil White stepping down from the Board
                                                            with effect from 31 March 2021.                        Chair
supported by investments in technology                                                                             23 February 2022
and our estate and a more segmented
customer offer over time.

1. See glossary for definitions and note 8 for alternative performance measure calculations and reconciliations.
20   THE UNITE GROUP PLC | Annual Report and Financial Statements 2021

                                         CHIEF EXECUTIVE’S REVIEW

                          RESILIENCE AND
                            FLEXIBILITY
           During the Covid-19 pandemic we prioritised working
            with our University partners to support students

                                          “The business has seen
                                            a strong recovery in
                                      performance in 2021. We are
                                       well positioned for growth
                                       due to our alignment to the
                                        strongest universities, an
                                     enhanced reputation thanks to
                                      our supportive actions during
                                     the pandemic, and our best-in-
                                        class operating platform.”

                                                      Richard Smith
                                                  Chief Executive Officer

                                                                            The business has delivered a strong
                                                                            performance in 2021, despite the
                                                                            ongoing challenges presented by the
                                                                            Covid-19 pandemic. We have once
                                                                            again proven the quality and resilience
                                                                            of our operating platform, with all
                                                                            properties remaining open during
                                                                            national lockdowns at the start of the
                                                                            year, as they did throughout 2020. This
                                                                            reflects the commitment of our teams
                                                                            as well as the value of our best in class
                                                                            operating platform, PRISM, which
                                                                            allowed us to quickly adapt to the
                                                                            changing circumstances.

                                                                            As a business, we are committed to acting
                                                                            responsibly and ‘Doing what’s right’. This
                                                                            principle has shaped our response to the
                                                                            pandemic and led to the further rental
                                                                            discounts and complimentary tenancy
                                                                            extensions offered to students unable
                                                                            to use their accommodation at the start
                                                                            of 2021. We have increased the support
                                                                            offered to students and our employees
STRATEGIC REPORT                             GOVERNANCE
                                                                                              FINANCIAL
                                                                                              STATEMENTS
                                                                                                                                          OTHER
                                                                                                                                          INFORMATION
                                                                                                                                                                                 21

                      37.1p                                  95p                                                                  29.0p
           34.1p                                                        91p                             86p
30.3p                                                                                                                  22.7p                                     22.1p
                                           27.6p
                                 24.0p

                                                                                                                                                      12.75p
                                                                                                                                            10.25p
                                                             2017       2018      -32p       -32p       2021

2017       2018       2019       2020      2021                                   2019       2020                      2017       2018      2019      2020       2021

ADJUSTED EARNINGS PER SHARE1, 2 (P)                         IFRS BASIC EARNINGS PER SHARE (P)                         DIVIDEND PER SHARE (P)

27.6p                                                       86p                                                       22.1p

to ensure their health, safety and                          gains, disposal proceeds and receipt                      financial support offered in the Higher
wellbeing. We believe these actions                         of our LSAV performance fee. This                         Education sector and reflects our
have enhanced our reputation with                           provides the financial headroom to                        commitment to show leadership in
students, parents, universities and                         deliver our secured development                           the sector as well as encouraging others
Government and will create further                          pipeline and pursue new growth                            to act accordingly.
opportunities in the future.                                opportunities. Our key financial
                                                            performance indicators are set out                        All our properties remained, and
Return to growth                                            in the table below.                                       continue to remain, open and
                                                                                                                      operational, employing a range of
The business delivered a strong
                                                            Continued support for students                            measures to reduce transmission of
recovery in financial performance in
                                                            and universities                                          Covid-19 where possible. With the
2021 with adjusted earnings of £110.1
                                                                                                                      removal of the remaining restrictions
million and adjusted EPS of 27.6p,                          Since the outbreak of Covid-19, we
                                                                                                                      during the fourth quarter of 2022,
up 15% year-on-year. This reflects                          have strived to play our part and
                                                                                                                      students will be able to enjoy the full
an increase in occupancy to 94% for                         do the right thing for our students
                                                                                                                      experience of university life.
the 2021/22 academic year (2020/21:                         and University partners in a fair and
88%) and a lower impact from rental                         proportionate way. In response to
                                                                                                                      Positive outlook for 2022/23
discounts when compared to 2020. The                        the national lockdown announced in
profit before tax of £343.1 million also                    January 2021, students not living in                      We see strong demand for
reflects the valuation growth of our                        their accommodation were able to                          accommodation this autumn, with
property portfolio during the year. We                      apply for a ten-week rental discount                      UCAS applications up 7% on pre-
have announced a dividend of 22.1 p                         and four-week complimentary                               pandemic levels. Reservations for the
for the full year, which represents a                       tenancy extension.                                        2022/23 academic year are encouraging
payout ratio of 80% of adjusted EPS,                                                                                  at 67%, which is ahead of the prior year
underlining our confidence in future                        We have now provided over £100                            level of 60%. This is underpinned by the
business performance. Total accounting                      million in financial support to students                  50% of beds secured under nomination
returns for the year improved to 10.2%,                     during the Covid-19 pandemic through                      agreements for an average term of
reflecting an 8% increase in EPRA NTA                       a combination of rent waivers and                         seven years. We expect bookings under
to 882p. Our LTV ratio reduced to 29%                       flexibility offered to students. We                       nomination agreements to grow as a
during the year through revaluation                         believe this is the largest package of                    percentage of bookings by the end of
                                                                                                                      the current annual sales cycle and to
                                                                                                                      increase to 55% of total beds over the
 Financial highlights1                                                                     2021                2020
                                                                                                                      next two academic years. This reflects
                                                                                                                      the opportunity to deepen relationships
 Adjusted earnings                                                                   £110.1m              £91.6m      with our existing University partners.
 Adjusted EPS                                                                            27.6p              24.0p
                                                                                                                      We have recently secured new multi-
 IFRS profit/(loss) before tax                                                      £343.1m           £(120.1)m
                                                                                                                      year agreements to let 1,000 beds to
 IFRS basic EPS                                                                          85.9p            (31.8)p     two Russell Group universities from
 Dividend per share                                                                      22.1p             12.75p     the 2022/23 academic year. We expect
 Adjusted EPS yield                                                                      3.4%                 2.8%    strong student demand for 2022/23
                                                                                                                      from both domestic and international
 Total accounting return                                                                 10.2%             (3.4)%
                                                                                                                      students. We have maintained our
                                                                                                                      focus on retaining existing direct-
 EPRA NTA per share                                                                      882p                 818p    let customers, which has led to an
 IFRS net assets per share                                                               880p                 809p    increased share of sales to re-bookers.
 Loan to value                                                                            29%                  34%    The attractiveness of PBSA over HMO is
                                                                                                                      being clearly proven.
1. See glossary for definitions and note 8 for alternative performance measure calculations and reconciliations.
   A reconciliation of profit/loss before tax to EPRA earnings and adjusted earnings                                  This supports our anticipated return
   is set out in note 8 of the financial statements.                                                                  to 97% occupancy and 3.0–3.5% rental
                                                                                                                      growth for the 2022/23 academic year.

1. The financial statements are prepared in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). The Group uses alternative performance measures (APMs), which
   are not defined or specified under IFRS. These APMs, which are not considered to be a substitute for IFRS measures, provide additional helpful information and are based on
   the European Public Real Estate Association (EPRA) best practice recommendations. The metrics are also used internally to measure and manage the business and to align to
   the performance related conditions for Directors’ remuneration. See glossary for definitions and note 8 for calculations and reconciliations.
2. Adjustment made to EPRA EPS to remove the impact of the LSAV performance fee. Further details are provided in notes 2 and 8.
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