Imagine if you have help to find international student housing in London, from the search process until the day you move out? That’s UniAcco’s goal. Founded in 2019, it aims to be a one-stop centre for international student housing in London.
UniAcco’s founder is Amit Singh. While not an international student, he always wondered what it would be like to study at a renowned uni abroad. This curiosity led him to research intensely about all things education and how to help students looking to pursue a degree or programme abroad. “Study abroad aspirants usually go through the following route: seek education counselling, secure an education loan, search for scholarships, books student accommodation and finally, travel to their overseas study destination,” he explains. “International students have to battle visa hurdles, insurance plan conundrums, education loan dilemmas, scouting for scholarships and so on. This all happens even before they can attend classes.”
UniAcco aspires to be the single entity that deals with “all the nitty-gritty details that transpire between a student selecting his or her uni and finally reaching their campus abroad.”
Below we talked 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 of their home country. This 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 the education counselling and student loans, to scholarships and student accommodation. Thus, I decided to found UniAcco and UniCreds.
Walk us through what these two companies do for international students.
The overall objective of our organisations is to be a service provider for all the needs of international students. In a quest to achieve this, we started our operations with UniAcco — a platform for cross-border high-quality student accommodation located nearby their unis.
Despite being relatively new in the market, we hold an industry best rating of 4.9 out 5 stars on Trustpilot and have one the prestigious Best Cross-Border Student Housing Provider 2020 Award at the fourth annual Greater London Enterprise Awards which is hosted by SME News.
Once UniAcco gained enough traction, we launched UniCreds — an online education loan marketplace. Students can find safe and reliable education loans to almost over 40 countries which includes the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Spain, etc.
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We’ve also made strategic partnerships with leading financial platforms like 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, the UK and India. That being said, we have also helped students from countries like Russia, Mali, Bénin, Tunisia and Guyana to name a few. Our international students primarily go to popular study destinations — the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, Spain and France.
Are you planning to expand your international student housing and loan services?
Absolutely. After almost a year in operation, UniAcco assisted more than 40,000 students with their accommodation needs. We’re looking to double that number this fall season as we’ve bolstered our inventory to over five million beds across more than 1500 properties in over 10 countries like the UK, Australia, Canada and so on.
We hope to have our presence in over 30 countries in time for the 2022 fall season. UniAcco has already sold one million room nights and is edging to complete five million room nights by this year. We’ve become one of the leading student accommodation platforms in the world during our first year of operations and aspire to be in the top three and lead the market by 2022.
Just like UniAcco, UniCreds is growing at a rapid pace. Despite being in our first year of operations, we’re nearing US$2 million in education loan disbursements by the end of this year. UniCreds is already the second largest education loan marketplace in India and we’re hoping to clinch the number one spot by next year.
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Apart from these two companies, we’ve also launched an online scholarship platform called UniScholarz. Here, students can find more than 1,000 scholarships offered by multinational corporations, universities, governments, trusts and other organisations — all in one place.
All students who wish to study anywhere in the world can identify and apply to as many as they want without spending any money. The intent behind UniScholarz is to allow students to study abroad without having to worry about the ways to do so. We also have plans for an education counselling platform which should be ready to cater in the 2022 fall season intake.
What inspired you to start providing services such as international student housing, loans and scholarships?
I have always been an individual who has believed in calculated risks. I studied hard for my CFA and MBA. Once I landed a plushy corporate job, I thought I had achieved it all.
After 10 years in the corporate world, I had a change of heart. I realised that it was time to do something of my own and since I’ve always had a soft spot for education (especially higher education), I jumped at the chance to do so.
I knew that higher education was thriving and 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 instantly hit it off because we shared the same business ideals. Before we even knew it, we had a solid business model in place and decided to run with — 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 tip that I can give to international students is to cherish every moment as one. Remember, not many people get the privilege to study abroad. Enjoy, document and celebrate every little moment of your experience in a new country.
Budgeting money wisely is easier said than done. Unfortunately there is no school curriculum for personal finance for non-finance students. You have to be able to lead yourself in all things including the money aspect before anything else. I write about it on my blog for money management in early life here.