Morocco's Education Real Estate: Thriving Opportunities in a Center of Academic Excellence

Real estate insight by Nawale Saoud, Director Project & Development Services

March 11, 2024

Morocco stands out in Africa as an emerging centre of academic excellence. With its political stability, welcoming culture, strategic location, and rich educational history, Morocco offers a unique combination of factors to promote the education sector as a catalyst for long-term economic enhancement. The government's National Charter for Education and Training demonstrates its commitment to increasing literacy, attracting foreign universities, and providing financial incentives to overseas investors.

As a result, there has been a significant increase in demand for academic real estate in Morocco. The number of students enrolled in higher education in Morocco has risen from approximately 296,000 in 2000 to almost 1.4 million in 2023, indicating a significant market potential.

The new educational engineering was implemented this year as part of the National Plan to accelerate the transformation of the ecosystem of higher education, scientific research, and innovation by 2030. Additionally, several measures were taken to strengthen social support for students, including the expansion of accommodation options (more than 5,520 beds) and catering services (15 million meals).

Similar to trends in Europe and the MENA region, key factors driving the success of academic real estate in Morocco include innovative and flexible designs, sufficient student housing, the integration of cutting-edge technologies, energy efficiency, safety and security measures, and accessibility for disabled students.

Designing for inclusivity

Innovative design plays a paramount role in enhancing the quality of the educational experience. Natural lighting, acoustics, ventilation, biophilia, and colour palettes receive careful attention. With approximately 1 in 7 students considered neurodivergent, educational establishments now provide diverse physical spaces to accommodate different learning styles and abilities. Classrooms are transformed into versatile areas that can facilitate immersive or active learning activities, collaborative meetings, and performing arts events. Generally, student residences in Morocco offer common services, such as a gym, laundry, internet access and catering services for their residents.

Student housing boom

The global trend of increasing international student mobility is making a strong comeback after the pandemic-induced hiatus. In 2022, Australia witnessed its largest-ever annual surge in student visa holders, with numbers rising by 45% to over 450,000. Similarly, the United States experienced an impressive 80% increase in international student enrollments compared to pre-pandemic levels. Morocco is also part of this upward trajectory, observing a significant rise in overseas students. Their number has continued to increase for years, going from around 6,000 students at the start of the 2000s to around 20,000 currently, an average annual increase of 10%. 85% being from African countries.

The growing influx of international students is causing a supply-demand imbalance in the student housing market, leading to higher occupancy rates and a scarcity of vacancies. In the United Kingdom, projections by StuRents indicate a shortfall of approximately 450,000 student beds by 2025. This housing shortage has prompted an upward trajectory in rents for student accommodations. Last year, Canadian and Australian markets saw an average rental increase of 8%, while the United Kingdom observed a rise of 4.4%. Throughout the rest of Europe, rents rose by 3.1%, according to the annual report on student housing by BONARD in 2022.

This growing demand for student housing, accompanied by rising rents, presents challenges and lucrative opportunities for real estate investors and developers in Morocco and across the globe. According to JLL, global investments in student accommodation have reached over US$17.7 billion in 2022, with investors recognising the potential of this trend.

Embracing digital revolution

Advancements in technology, such as AI and digital learning platforms, have revolutionized the education and real estate sectors. Institutions in Morocco are embracing this shift by adopting proptech solutions and leveraging technology such as BIM, digital twin, and energy efficiency solutions to enhance the design, delivery, and operation of academic real estate. E-learning, virtual classrooms, and collaborative technologies have also become integral parts of pedagogical approaches. Proptech has undoubtedly revolutionized the education and real estate sectors in Morocco by fostering innovation, efficiency, and convenience.

Building a sustainable future

The pursuit of sustainability and energy efficiency in building design, delivery, and operations necessitates a comprehensive re-evaluation of all aspects involved. In the Moroccan education sector, integrating sustainable practices involves creating more open or partially covered spaces, enhancing pandemic resilience, implementing active waste management and disposal strategies, reducing carbon emissions, and optimizing developer's operational expenditure (OpEx) and capital costs.

An essential element of this transformation is the implementation of green accreditation schemes. Morocco stands out as one of the leading markets in Africa for embracing globally recognized green building certification programs like HQE, LEED and BREEAM. These certifications are also being implemented in educational projects like UM6P (Université Mohammed VI Polytechnique).

JLL is actively engaged in supporting the Morocco Green Building Council and other stakeholders in the real estate industry is in their mission to promote sustainable practices in the built environment.

By embracing sustainability-focused strategies and leveraging green certifications, Morocco's education sector can pave the way for a greener, more efficient future. This not only contributes to environmental conservation but also enhances the well-being and experiences of students and educators alike.

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In summary

Over the past five years, the education sector in Morocco has experienced unprecedented growth, opening up a plethora of opportunities for landowners, developers, and real estate investors.

At JLL, a global leader in commercial real estate services, we are well-positioned to assist clients looking to tap into Morocco's thriving education sector. With our international experience and local knowledge, JLL offers comprehensive services encompassing development advisory, feasibility studies, site acquisition, design and delivery, operation, and disposal of educational real estate projects.

While physical real estate is just one component of creating successful academic institutions, its role in positioning projects for success cannot be overstated. Morocco's education sector presents immense potential, and JLL is committed to helping clients seize the opportunities within this flourishing market.

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