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Q&A with Karan Khanna

10 April 2024

Karan leads the operational and commercial functions for Unite Students, working with his team to enhance the student experience, deliver commercial performance and raise brand awareness.


How is Unite Students putting students at the heart of everything it does?
Our focus is on providing a home where students can thrive. A home that is affordable, supportive, fun, inclusive, safe, secure, as well as environmentally friendly. It is about giving our residents the foundation to achieve any of the goals or ambitions they aspire to.

In line with this, we are investing significantly across our estate – with £79 million spent on building improvements and offer enhancements over the last year, and more planned.

It’s also about ensuring our offer is fit for purpose for all students and we’ve ramped up efforts on customer segmentation to meet this need effectively.

Student wellbeing has always been a core focus for Unite Students, why is it so important?
Our residents are coming to live with us at a pivotal point in life. They are taking the leap, beginning the transition to independence and in most cases, living away from home for the first time. We therefore need to be more than just their accommodation provider – we need to help them to navigate the change. As a parent, I would expect nothing less if my son was living in a Unite Students property.

That’s why we offer 24/7 round-the-clock support at all our properties, place a focus on creating community and have clear pathways for any students facing difficulty.

We’re continuously reviewing and improving our approach here – always ensuring our students have somewhere to turn, whatever their concern. Last year, we launched our industry leading welfare programme, Support to Stay, which has been well received by students and our university partners. This year, we have expanded that programme by including additional counselling and therapy support for Unite Students’ residents.

What measures are you taking to help students manage the cost-of-living crisis?
We are acutely aware of the cost-of-living pressures facing students. Here at Unite Students, affordability sits at the heart of everything we do, and we’re committed to providing value for money. The Unite Group provides a range of fixed-price, all-inclusive products – covering all utility bills, Wi-Fi, contents insurance and 24-hour security – which gives students certainty on their outgoings and is highly competitive, compared to other forms of accommodation. We also have a comprehensive package of support available for those who may be struggling under our Support to Stay offer.

How important is the sustainability agenda for students when selecting accommodation?
Our research shows that students care deeply about living in a sustainable way – and so do we. That is why we are committed to enabling our residents to limit their impact on the environment day-to-day within our properties – via substantial investment in energy management solutions, such as air source heat pumps, for example – as well as to progressing towards net zero as a business.

We also strive to have a positive, long-lasting impact on the local communities in which we operate. Our colleagues are actively involved in voluntary Positive Impact schemes, while many of our properties now incorporate community spaces. At Hayloft Point, for example, we’ve partnered with Streets of Growth, a youth intervention charity, providing them space at a peppercorn annual rent, giving them their first permanent HQ.

We’ve come a long way on sustainability but there is still work to do and this is a core focus for 2024.

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