Bloomberg's Patrick Clark takes a look at the sudden rise of shares of Education Realty Trust (EdR) and American Campus Communities (ACC), as the two publiclly traded REITs are up 54% and 44%, respectively, over the last month.

The sector, which had cooled off after seeing a flurry of investment activity a couple of years ago, has bounced back in a big way. So, what's behind this move to the top of the class?

"In an environment of striking political and economic uncertainty, public investors are ascribing value to [the] certainty of cash flows in student housing," said Ryan Burke, an analyst at Green Street Advisors. "In [the] young life of purpose-built student housing, it's performed really well in good and bad times."

That's because kids keep going to college, and schools have run out of places to put them. Consider these striking data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development: 17.7 million students were enrolled in post-secondary, degree-granting institutions in 2012, up from 12 million in 1990. Over the same period, the number of students living in on-campus dorms increased by a bit more than 600,000.

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