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What do we know about the class of 2023?

20 July 2023

The class of 2023 will soon be arriving at universities up and down the UK – and our recent Applicant Index report highlights some of their needs and concerns. Now, an expert panel discusses the research findings and explores how we can support this year’s new students to flourish at university.

In this episode, we’re looking at what universities are doing to accommodate and support these students when they arrive at university, and some of the challenges associated with that – such as mental health, finances and building an inclusive community for LGBTQ+ and international student populations.

Hosted by Jenny Shaw, HE External Engagement Director at Unite Students, this episode’s guests include:

  • Tony Moss, Pro Vice Chancellor (Education & Student Experience) at London South Bank University
  • Rose Stephenson, Director of Policy & Advocacy at HEPI
  • James Greenwood, Head of Residential Life at London School of Economics, Chair of Residence Life at CUBO, and Global Initiatives Chair Elect for ACUHO-I

You can listen to the episode, or read the transcript, below.

‘What do we know about the class of 2023?’ episode transcript

Jenny Shaw: Today we’re looking ahead to the next academic year, to welcoming a new cohort of students, many of whom have just gone through their first public exams. For those who come from England, Wales or Northern Ireland, their GCSE years were dominated by Covid and the lockdowns. Most of them sat teacher assessed papers at home after months of online education, and all of them faced a cut-down syllabus, missed out on practical skills, not to mention the loss of social and extra-curricular opportunities.

Welcome to Accommodation Matters where we take a deep dive into important and upcoming issues relevant to student accommodation, and the wider student experience. I’m Jenny Shaw, and we’re discussing the results of the annual Unite Students and HEPI Applicant Index today: what it means for us in student accommodation and beyond. And as usual I have a panel of experts with me in the studio.

Tony Moss: Hi, Jenny.

Jenny: James Greenwood is Head of Residential Life at LSE, Chair of Residence Life at CUBO, and the Global Initiatives Chair Elect for ACUHO-I. Hi, James.

James Greenwood: Hi, Jenny.

Jenny: Rose Stephenson is Director of Policy and Advocacy at HEPI. Hi, Rose.

Rose Stephenson: Hi, Jenny.

Jenny: Excellent. Let’s get right into the report and what it’s telling us. There’s plenty of positive news and some early signs that young people have collectively begun to recover from the impact of the pandemic, but there’s a very striking finding about just how many applicants have missed school due to their mental health over the last few years. Tony, I want to come to you first. What do you think is behind the statistics and what are the implications for learning and teaching at universities?

Tony: Thanks, Jenny. Yes, absolutely. It’s probably an unexpected finding given what we’ve seen, particularly during the pandemic and the cost of living pressures that students and people in general are facing. In one of my other roles as a school governor, I’ve seen that there are a primary secondary school with the return back to education. There were very different approaches, I think, to supporting young people after having spent significant amounts of time away from their peers during really important developmental milestones.

The different approaches broadly speaking, I think, were whether or not the education provider, education setting, school, college and so on, focused on recovery of lost learning, or whether there was a focus on wellbeing and that form of recovery as being equally important. Just anecdotally based on my experience, it was quite evident that schools and colleges and universities, in fact, who saw the recovery in terms of emotional wellbeing and resilience – who valued that and saw that as an important aspect of the reintegration back into education – actually saw better outcomes for young people and those that just felt they had to really drill this kind of lost learning.

I think partly that will explain where that’s come from. In terms of the impact for learning and teaching in universities, I think this is something that we need to acknowledge as part of the lived experience of students coming into providers. Just recently, I had a panel with a group of apprenticeship students at the Advance HE Conference and one of them described herself as a COVID student, referring to her experience of when she was at college prior to starting a degree apprenticeship.

That really resonated with this identity almost of young people coming into HE now that see themselves as this COVID student or a pandemic student. From a university perspective, we can’t take that away and I think we need to understand that that’s there and it’s present. I think there’s a lot more learning that we need to do to understand how to support students coming into higher education.

I think that’s always been the case and there’s a lot of work, as we know, across the sector on supporting mental health amongst our student body. I think really what’s happened with the legacy of the pandemic is it’s made it even more salient. I think it’s really helpful to see that being surfaced in the report.

Jenny: James, I wanted to come to you now to ask you about the findings on loneliness, because residential life is really about creating that community and elsewhere in the survey, applicants say they really do want that sense of belonging, that sense of community. What did you think about the results and what can we do?

James: First of all, I don’t think the results were that surprising or shocking. The data definitely echoes some of the data that we’re seeing at various universities. I know locally at LSE, we do a student satisfaction survey each year and unfortunately, we are seeing a dip in sense of belonging and community and it’s something that we’re going to be working on locally. That wasn’t shocking to me and I think there’s a few reasons behind some of that. Previously, some of our cohorts were the COVID-year cohorts. Back then they were totally reliant on their local community in their halls.

It’s very different now. They’ve got that freedom, I guess, to explore London, explore outside of their hall. They’re not as reliant on their local community, but also as Tony just touched on, we’re seeing that lost learning – but more importantly, that lost social experience of getting to know other students and other people and peers. A lot of my team are having those conversations now about how to integrate well with each other and how to get on as a community.

We have all of those flatmate disputes that we have to deal with, but we’re definitely seeing that. A terminology I’m hearing, quite a lot similar to what Tony just said, is they’re calling themselves Generation COVID, which I find quite interesting. There’s loads of things, I think, that universities and accommodation providers can do to make that a bit better and make that transition and support a bit better for students.

Some of that, I think, can be done quite early. It’s not about when the student arrives at the university or the accommodation provider – actually, let’s start that process now. I think it’s really important to try and provide as many opportunities as possible for students to get to know each other before they get to the university or the accommodation. That can be virtually via various different networks, social media, maybe webinars that the university might want to put on.

I hope, and we do this at LSE, that this builds much stronger social connections before students arrive and it reduces some of that anxiety too around moving to a new place and meeting new people. Alongside that, I think it’s really important that universities and accommodation providers provide a broad range of social opportunities and as part of the welcome experience, that there’s lots for students to do.

Those experiences, I think, need to transform and become much more inclusive. I think back in the day we would have just put out some pizza or some drinks and actually now it’s much more than that. It’s about including all students from all different backgrounds. Hosting quieter events, activities for students that might tick a box in terms of their personal interests or needs, safe spaces – for example, for LGBTQ students or Black students, and we do many alcohol-free events too. It’s about keeping that as inclusive as possible.

I think, obviously, it’s important for the accommodation provider or the university or the university hall to have a really strong connection with the wellbeing support that’s available to students either locally within the university or outside of the university. Think about your teams, do think about who’s trained and what they’re trained in. Again, back in the day, we would have made sure that our receptionists are well trained in terms of mental health, but actually we go one step further now and are thinking about specialist LGBTQ training for those receptionists and what more we can do for staff of all levels.

I think the key thing, I mean, I’ve had four meetings already this morning and they’re saying the same thing over and over and over – which is talk to students! Keep talking to students about what opportunities they want and how do they want them, what wellbeing support they want and how do they want it. I don’t think it’s too difficult to have a conversation with students and keep that conversation flowing, and use those focus groups and conversations to feed some of our bigger strategies for both accommodation and ResLife within the university side.

Jenny: Thanks, James. I just want to pick up on a couple of things you said. One is the importance of starting now. I think there’s quite a lot in the report which talks about the apprehension and things that applicants are not confident about or don’t know. Things like not being confident registering with a GP, for example, about half of them being concerned that they’re not going to fit in. There’s quite a lot there pre-arrival, isn’t there? There’s quite a lot of work to do, I think, with applicants, to make them feel confident coming to university and maybe get the best experience when they’re there.

James: Yes, I totally agree. That’s some of the work that we do at LSE locally for our welcome webinars, we call them, they’re very clear on what to do, when to do it, how to do it and who to contact. Things like registering at the GP or the dentist. Actually, what does a GP mean? A lot of international students you would never use the word ‘GP’, so we try also to think about the terminology that we use in terms of that welcome experience for those students.

But I still think there’s a lot that can be done. Some students are quite comfortable and they don’t need that, but we do really have to think about those students that might need it, or at least having the reassurance behind the scenes that they know that that’s there if they ever need it.

Jenny: Tony, what does this look like at LSBU?

Tony: With the student demographic and the profile of students, it looks quite different in some ways. Let me just to give some figures, we have a pre-entry or personal development survey that we ask our students to complete effectively as a mechanism for helping students to let us know what support and development needs they have. There have been some really quite striking things that we’ve learned about our student body beyond the usual highlighted demographic data that we might look at.

One of the figures that really struck me was around 17% of our students come from households with zero income. About another 50% on top of that have household income of less than £25,000. There’s lots of other of those sorts of statistics related to our student body that effectively amount to a particular challenge for us and actually how we can support those students to engage in some of those extracurricular activities that we know if they were able to engage with them, would help to build that sense of community and belonging and so on.

I have literally had conversations with students who have said, “These things sound great when they’re laying them on. Unfortunately, I’m leaving my lecturer to go and pick up a shift at work or collect my kids,” or they may have caring responsibilities. I think for our institution, that’s not just a small proportion. In many cases, it’s the majority of our students.

It’s been really interesting working with our students’ union. They have taken quite a radical approach to this in terms of our societies and communities where effectively our SU have said, they’re going down this quite different line in terms of how they operate student societies and communities whereby they’re actually taking on all of the labor of organizing events and so on and so forth because again, our students are saying to us that they’d love to do those things, they don’t have the time to do it. I think absolutely as James was saying, the challenge of almost helping students to know what they don’t know.

You come to university, you may be living away from home, you may be living at home, what are the things that you don’t know and the approach that will take into providing this personal development survey gives us a way to understand those questions around we don’t just ask things about academic skills and finance but also do they feel confident about living independently.

We see some really interesting responses from our students but I think one of my personal bugs bears across the sector is we often talk about HE as though it’s big, homogenous whole. Of course, we’ve got such diversity even just within London, different types of universities, very different student body profiles with some institutions, very high proportion of international students, others that have a much more local demographic and I do think there’s more that we could be doing as a sector to understand more about our own student body and about their needs.

I think it really is becoming quite acute for us now, seeing the things about which you might traditionally say “If we just do those, it would be good for the students,” having students who actually turning to us and saying that they can’t access it, so we’re having to think about the ways to actually think about different ways of doing things that may raise some eyebrows. I think our SU have said that in conversations they’ve had with other SUs, people say, “Well, that sounds quite different, are you sure it’s going to work?” It really is reflecting the fact that to me, our students’ needs, we do need to adapt and change.

Jenny: I think that’s a really good point because one of the striking findings within the survey was how differently applicants are affected by the financial crisis depending on their circumstances which it seems obvious but while it does affect different individual students differently it is a good point to raise that actually some institutions are affected more than others and actually affects your core approach. James, did you want to come in on that one?

James: Yes, well, I’ve worked at a few different universities within London and I know the differences very clearly across those different student bodies. My previous experiences have been with students that, before the cost of living crisis, actually, that have really struggled. My experience, I guess, of working at those different universities has really given me some very key skills to spot how to support different students from all different backgrounds and socioeconomic backgrounds. It’s different at LSE, we do have a lot of students that are from fairly wealthy backgrounds and we have a lot of post-grad students too which means that the support that we provide is slightly different to maybe some other universities.

However, there are a number of students that still require lots of support, both socially with their wellbeing and financially and we are working with many institutions on that for some cross-collaboration work and Unite Students are actually a part of that. We work with the Unite Foundation to support some of our care-leaver students too.

I don’t want to say that LSE is full of students with lots of money because that’s not true. There are a number of students that need lots of financial support.

Jenny: Rose, I’d like to bring you in now because you were part of the workshop where we were devising the survey and I think it was your idea to ask applicants how well they thought the PSHE curriculum had prepared them and the results were quite positive but absolutely not overwhelming. Was that the result you expected for that question and what do you make of those findings?

Rose: I think I was quite pleasantly surprised actually that 60% of applicants felt that their PSHE lessons had been good or excellent and only 10% rated them as poor which I think if you ask students about any subject at secondary school, that would be a fairly good outcome but there were 30% that had a neutral response. There was plenty of room for improvement there. Speaking as a former secondary school teacher, unfortunately, PSHE is sometimes seen in schools as a bit of an add-on subject and it certainly doesn’t have the level of gravitas that English or Maths or Science would have.

I think partly because of that, you often get non-specialist teachers teaching PSHE but if we look at the topics that we asked about in the survey, healthy living, mental health and wellbeing, and conflict resolution, they’re incredibly important skills to have and I would suggest really, really difficult to teach. I think having specialist teachers focusing on these subjects – and there is a big movement, particularly around sex and relationships education – that this should absolutely be taught by specialist subjects, not poor old Mr. Andrew from geography, who’s got to go in and teach these things with very little preparation.

I was quite pleasantly surprised but I think given how important these topics are, it could be done better.

Jenny: Thanks, Rose. I was really struck that when we asked some questions about independence and confidence about various skills, the practical skills, they’re all super confident about but things around health, things around managing conflict, that interpersonal side of it, they were much, much less confident.

I’m going to come to Tony and James just for any thoughts and reflections of what things would it be useful for applicants to learn before they come to university and particularly things that you find maybe they’re less confident about at the moment?

Tony: I guess my starting point would be that could it be different things for different groups of students, isn’t it? That you’ve got students coming from very different backgrounds coming into HE, and we know that – whether you’re an overseas student, whether you are first in the family, LGBTQ+ students – there are lots of different students who are going to face different barriers if you like.

I think what probably sits across that for me is students coming into university feeling empowered and knowledgeable about how to access support and find out what it is that’s available to them. One of the challenges I think, and I mentioned the PVP approach that we take where very early doors and prior to students joining us, wanting to find out what they see as their development needs so that we can tell them explicitly what we have available to them.

I think we’ve always had this issue in higher education, possibly in education, more generally, but very often we don’t find out what students need until it’s become a more complex problem but very often you’ll be reflecting, thinking if you knew about this six months ago, we could have done a lot more and taken a more preventative approach. I think students coming into particularly those that may not have the social capital where they could speak to parents or siblings or extended family or friends to understand what it is that universities do, what universities have responsibility for and what things they can ask for.

I think if students came to us with a better understanding of that, almost an empowerment, if you like, I think that’d be quite a positive thing. It’s always really heartbreaking when you speak to a student that’s got into a really difficult situation and you’re doing your best to help them and they might sometimes say to you, “I didn’t come to tell you about this, I didn’t actually think it was your problem. This was something that I felt was an outside-of-the-university issue,” and we’d sat there thinking we absolutely would’ve helped and some students will feel more empowered to ask for that support than others, I think.

Jenny: I remember having conversations some years back about asking for help being a really key skill and I wonder if that’s something that might be useful to teach in schools in some way.

Tony: Yes, if I could just throw in an experience we have with our PVP approach that, so this academic year alone, we’ve had 330 students responding through the survey to tell us that they do have a disability they’ve not previously disclosed to us, that’s then enabled us to get in contact.

This is at the moment still very anecdotal but some of our academic staff have said that they wonder if part of that could be a more cultural phenomenon that in previous interactions with students haven’t felt able to declare but once they were asked to fill out this survey, it felt maybe less threatening just to tick a box to indicate, yes, I think maybe I do need an assessment or I know I have this ability and need support.

Sometimes I think it’s also from our perspective, thinking about how many doors can we open for you to tell us, as opposed to saying, we’ve got one route to declare this and if you don’t declare it that way, then you never get the support but to say actually some students may feel more comfortable telling a person while others may feel more comfortable filling out an online form.

Jenny: James, how do we make it feel safe for students to disclose disabilities or any of the needs that they’ve got?

James: Well, I think first of all, that we have to go a bit further back and culturally we have to acknowledge that we’ve got a lot of students coming into the UK from many different cultures where it just isn’t seen as the norm to be open and honest about mental health or LGBTQ, et cetera.

I think that students are worried. I think they’re genuinely worried that their family or their home institution, whoever, might find out that information and I think it’s really important for us as a university is to make that quite clear that we have very strict laws and legislation in the UK that would prevent that from ever happening and we have clear processes within our policies with our universities to best support those students.

I think we have to really encourage students to be open and honest with us from the start, and some of that is, as I said before, is about that pre-communication and that pre-engagement with students where they can hopefully build up trust with us as a provider of education, that they are open and honest, because that’s the only way we can best support students.

I do remember seeing a stat quite recently by Stonewall, I think it was at 67% of trans people will avoid being open about their identity to family, friends, or their employer, which is just insane, that kind of number. I can see that echoed in some of the research that’s been done in this paper by Unite. A lot of the work that I do over the next year will be to better support those communities across our buildings and our campus.

But I think there’s more that can be done. I think it’s very important for the university to build up those relationships as early as possible and be open and transparent to students.

Jenny: Thank you. James, I know you’ve just been on a couple of study tours. I’m wondering if there’s anything that you learn on those tours that are going to be relevant, particularly to this incoming cohort of students.

James: Yes, I’ve recently been on a tour across the States as part of my role with ACUHO-I, which is The Association of College and University Housing Officers. It’s an international group. The experience I have to say across the States is very different to that of the UK students. Living on campus is normal and actually mandatory for a lot of first-year students. Having a meal plan for your daily meals is also mandatory.

So when we talk about community and community building, that’s seen as a natural thing that happens because the students are there, they don’t have the opportunity to live a separate life in a way. Interestingly, some of the data that we’ve got locally LSE also support some of that. The sense of community is about 15% higher across our catered halls with meal plans, versus students that don’t live in catered halls.

I think what we’ll be doing over the next few years is looking at that in a bit more detail, that data and look at how our buildings are configured to best support students to have stronger communities. As I said, we’ll be doing a lot of work in the next year about supporting LGBTQ students. We’re going to be launching a few different new campaigns in collaboration with our students’ union.

The experience of the States, I think there’s quite a lot that can be taken from those students. There is a very strong culture of giving back to community from raising, doing good for your local community, within the students, and wider community. We don’t tend to see that much at universities. That’s not the culture within the UK. I’d like to try and push for that and advocate for that a little bit more in the future.

The halls experience across the States is also very central to the campus experience, especially in London. We don’t have many universities that have their accommodation on the campus. That’s not going to happen for a very long time and probably will never happen. We have to find getarounds to provide the best experience we can.

Sport is a big thing too in the States. I guess that’s another thing for us to consider in the future about, how do we integrate sports to become part of the standard experience of most students as much as possible? Sport can provide many different opportunities for students when it comes to community building, and getting to know each other. There’s a few learnings I’ve taken away. I’m sure at some point, I’ll write some form of blog on LinkedIn and share that out so you can see.

Jenny: That’s great. Thank you. I’m going to come around and ask you all if there was anything else, any other statistics or findings from the survey that really stood out to you. Rose, can I come to you on this one?

Rose: Yes, I’ve got a couple actually. We’ve talked quite a bit about confidence of specific skills that students would have or not have, as they were coming to university. I think there was a theme there running through for me, which is just about confidence. We saw that students from independent schools or students from more affluent backgrounds tended to be more confident across the board. It struck me there that as well as teaching the individual skill sets, can schools be developing confidence in itself?

We heard from Keir Starmer a little bit more about education policy from the Labour Party, and they talked about oracy and speaking confidently. I wonder if oracy is just one part of that confidence development process, or whether that’s something that needs to be looked at, particularly for students from lower socio-economic backgrounds who in your survey, Jenny, showing to be less confident.

Perhaps related to that, I think the thing that struck me the most in the survey was 30% of students saying they don’t think they’ve got enough money to be at university and that should be stopping absolutely everyone in their tracks. If university is becoming unaffordable for people – which we know it is from the Student Academic Experience Survey as well – and unsurprisingly, there is a bigger impact there on applicants from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

It seems a little bit backwards to me if we are promoting the work that universities are doing on mental health, but we’re not tackling the underlying issue that’s causing some other mental health difficulties, which is that the student loan, as it stands, isn’t functioning for students that don’t have income from their families to support them through universities.

To me, that’s the number one policy area that needs to be fixed really, at the minute is the maintenance loan. There’s a massive risk that students aren’t going to come to university and that if they do, they’re going to have a bad experience, or even worse, they’re going to be dropping out and not finishing their course, which is awful for those students. It’s going to be bad for social mobility. There’s a big impact on regulation for universities as well, increasingly, universities are being regulated on the out on who’s finishing and what jobs are they going on to.

If you’re a university that’s doing a brilliant job of widening participation, on paper, it’s going to look like you’re doing a poor job, because you’ll end up with more students dropping out. At the minute, the OFS won’t take any contextual approach to those outcomes, because they believe all students should be able to achieve the same, which is absolutely brilliant and noble if all students are on the same footing. At the moment, they’re not at because some of those students having to work so many hours, that they’re struggling to keep up with their studies, or they’re struggling to actually stay at university because they can’t afford it.

Jenny: Do you think we’re storing up problems for the future here, in terms of policy around maintenance support?

Rose: Yes. Absolutely, it has to be tackled. It’s so clear in the data, that there’s two separate groups of students, those who’ve got that extra family support and can not only focus on their studies, but actually can engage with all the pieces we’ve been talking about – the sport and the community, et cetera – and those who can’t. Yes, I think it’s a huge problem.

Tony: If I could too so comment on that I think that issue about funding is absolutely crucial. Again, we know about students that Rose is referring to that we know will face more challenges accessing, being successful through higher education also not evenly distributed across the whole sector. The higher rate funding that universities can charge links to their access and participation plans. The funding coming into institutions isn’t equitable in that sense.

To throw in a figure, I’m a huge fan of the work of the Unite Foundation for care experienced students. It’s really commendable to see the University of Sheffield – I’ve learned recently about their approach, which I think is a bursary of up to £10,000 given to care experience students to support them.

The challenge with that is we’re not looking at the student population of care experience students at LSBU. For us to fund something like that would cost us well in excess of £7 million a year, and that would be an investment just for our care experienced students. The thing that we know would work actually can’t be funded out of a typical university’s budget.

It does beg a question: do we need more of a pupil premium type approach? Equally if a student who’s getting 10,000 from one university, does that then mean the student may feel they can’t choose potentially to move, because if they do move, they would lose access to that funding that’s coming from the specific provider?

I do feel quite strongly that this is something that we can talk about fair access and participation and equality of opportunity, but when we know that there are institutions that have much larger numbers, LSBU actually is one of them. Much higher numbers of students that have a greater need for that support, it’s disingenuous I think.

The other thing just I would pick up on is back to the point I made earlier around apprenticeships. Of course, being a degree apprentice is a good way of avoiding stacking up quite a lot of that earning income while you’re studying and still getting your degree at the end. Of course, nationally, what we’ve seen is that the overwhelming majority of apprentices are White middle-class, and also tend to be older students.

At LSBU, our apprentice demographic bucks that trend, but our apprentice demographic is still less diverse than for undergraduate students. I think there is something there around the way that we’re promoting these sorts of opportunities and alternative routes into and through higher education, where the access side of things could be improved.

I suspect that when it comes to apprentices for students who don’t have access to big quality information, advice, and guidance and can’t speak to parents or siblings who know a bit more about the opportunities, probably just hear the word apprentices and think that it’s the old fashioned type of apprentice and it’s not the same, whereas actually, academically, it’s entirely equivalent in terms of the classification outcome.

James: We’re in the same boat, I guess, that we’re quite a small institution so we’re quite lucky that we can give out some of that funding. However, given at the moment the most funding we’ve ever given before in terms of bursaries and scholarships, especially for accommodation this year, we’re giving up to £2,500 a year towards accommodation costs on top of Unite Foundation bursaries and other academic bursaries too.

As Tony was saying, we’re at the limit and where does that stop? Where does that money come from too in terms of long term and those expectations? But also, we have got to deliver the best value for money we can for students, whether that’s academically or within their living environment, too, and I think that universities for a long time have almost been guaranteed that students come in and now that’s changing slightly, but to do that, we’ve got to continue to deliver the absolute best experience, but also value for money for those students. Those students are paying incredible amounts of money so they deserve the best experience that we can provide.

Hopefully, we can see that more and more in surveys and benchmarking across the sector and those that maybe aren’t providing the best experience, then it’s a less desirable university for students to go to regardless of where they fall within rankings.

Jenny: Finally, we ask this every year, what is one piece of advice that you would give to a new student starting university this year? Rose, do you want to take this one first?

Rose: Yes. My advice would just be to get properly stuck in, give everything a go in your first year, and it will help you find your tribe of people, which is super important for the rest of your university experience, and help you find the bits of academia that you’re into. I appreciate that’s quite tricky for post-COVID applicants. You haven’t had tons and tons of practice on those big, scary social opportunities. Yes, I think be brave and get stuck in.

Jenny: That’s great advice. Thanks, Rose. Tony.

Tony: Thanks. I think my advice maybe reflect to what I said earlier about students coming into university and being willing to share with us what it is that they need, come to university feeling that you’re entitled to support, feeling that it’s okay to let us know what it is that you need and trying to find out what we’ve got available.

Even though your university may not be able to solve every problem that you might face in life outside of university, it’s never a bad thing to let us know and just talk to us about problems that you might be facing because even if we can just direct you to other forms of support, it’s always beneficial.

Jenny: That’s a great message. James.

James: Mine’s very similar. Don’t be afraid to be your true self and speak to a university or accommodation team as well if you ever need any help. There’s no problem, big or small, we’ve dealt with it all so we’re prepared to deal with it again. Please, speak to us.

Jenny: That is great advice, and I think probably for accommodation teams as well it’s like just do let students know that you are open and that you have that diverse outlook and that it’s a safe place. There’s just so much that applicants don’t know that they’re fearful of, and I think we can never go too far to reassure them, really, can we?

We are coming up to time now. Thank you to all my guests today. You’ve been absolutely fantastic, and thank you to you for listening.

You can read our summary of key findings from the Applicant Index on our website.

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