How to Easily Find Housing and Loans for International Students
Imagine if you have help finding international student accommodation in London, from the search process to the day you move? This is UniAcco’s goal. Founded in 2019, it aims to be a one-stop center for accommodation for international students in London.
The founder of UniAcco is Amit Singh. Although not an international student, he always wondered what it would be like to study at a renowned university abroad. This curiosity led him to do intensive research on everything related to education and to know how assist students who wish to pursue a degree or program abroad. “Aspirants to study abroad usually take the following route: seek educational advice, get a study loan, seek scholarships, book student accommodation, and finally get to their study destination abroad. ‘foreigner’, he explains. “International students have to overcome obstacles related to visas, insurance plan puzzles, student loan dilemmas, finding scholarships, and so on. All of this happens before they can even attend class.
UniAcco aspires to be the one entity that takes care of “all the essential details that happen between a student selecting his university and finally reaching his campus abroad”.
Below, we spoke to Singh to find out more about UniAcco and his other company, UniCreds:
What inspired you to found UniAcco and UniCreds?
Today, 5.5 million international students pursue higher education outside their home country. That number is expected to grow to seven million by 2030. The Need of the Hour is a single entity that can streamline the entire study abroad experience, from education consulting to student loans to scholarships and student accommodation. So I decided to found UniAcco and UniCreds.
Tell us what these two companies do for international students.
The overall goal of our organizations is to be a service provider for all the needs of international students. In order to achieve this, we have started our operations with UniAcco – a high quality cross-border student accommodation platform located close to their universities.
Although relatively new to the market, we have an industry best rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot and have one of the prestigious Best Cross-Border Student Accommodation Provider Awards 2020 at the Fourth Greater London Enterprise Awards, organized by SME News.
Once UniAcco gained enough ground, we launched UniCreds, an online education loan marketplace. Students can find safe and reliable student loans in nearly 40 countries, including USA, UK, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Spain, etc.
We have also forged strategic partnerships with leading financial platforms such as HDFC Credila, ICICI Bank, Avanse Financial Services and Bank of Baroda to ensure students have a hassle-free experience.
Our students come from all over the world, but most of them are located in the US, UK and India. That being said, we have also helped students from countries like Russia, Mali, Benin, Tunisia and Guyana to name a few. Our international students travel primarily to popular study destinations – the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, Spain, and France.
Are you planning to expand your international student housing and loan services?
Absoutely. After almost a year of operation, UniAcco has supported more than 40,000 students with their housing needs. We are looking to double that number this fall as we have increased our inventory to over five million beds in over 1,500 properties in over 10 countries including UK, Australia, Canada and so on.
We hope to be in over 30 countries in time for the fall 2022 season. UniAcco has already sold one million overnight stays and is on track to complete five million overnight stays by this year. We have become one of the world’s leading student accommodation platforms in our first year of operation and aspire to be in the top three and dominate the market by 2022.
Like UniAcco, UniCreds is growing at a rapid pace. Although we are in our first year of operation, we are approaching US $ 2 million in education loan disbursements by the end of this year. UniCreds is already the second largest education loan market in India and we hope to clinch the top spot by next year.
Besides these two companies, we have also launched an online scholarship platform called UniScholarz. Here, students can find over 1,000 scholarships offered by multinational corporations, universities, governments, trusts and other organizations, all in one place.
Any student who wants to study anywhere in the world can identify with and apply to as many people as they want without spending any money. The intention behind UniScholarz is to enable students to study abroad without having to worry about how to do so. We also have plans for an education advisory platform that should be ready to respond in the fall of 2022.
What prompted you to start offering services such as international student accommodation, loans and grants?
I have always been a person who believed in calculated risks. I studied a lot for my CFA and my MBA. Once I landed a wealthy corporate job, I thought I had accomplished it all.
After 10 years in the corporate world, I changed my mind. I realized it was time to do something on my own and since I have always had a soft spot for education (especially higher education), I jumped at the chance to do so.
I knew higher education was flourishing and I was determined to be a part of it. I tapped into my network and came across a budding entrepreneur by the name of Sayantan Biswas who is my co-founder. We hit it off right away because we shared the same business ideals. Before we even knew it, we had a solid business model in place and decided to work with it – that’s how UniAcco came into being.
What tips can you share with international students on how to budget and spend money wisely abroad?
One piece of advice I can give to international students is to treasure every moment as one. Remember that not many people have the privilege of studying abroad. Enjoy, document and celebrate every little moment of your experience in a new country.
Managing your budget well is easier said than done. Unfortunately, there is no personal finance school program for non-financial students. You have to be able to lead yourself in all things, including the financial aspect before anything else. I talk about it on my blog for early life money management here.