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Unite Students named Student Accommodation Operator of the Year

12 May 2022

  • Unite Students wins Student Accommodation Operator of the Year award at leading property sector awards, RESI
  • Its support for students throughout 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic was highlighted in last night’s award ceremony held at Grosvenor House, London
  • The RESI Awards, organised by Property Week, recognises the residential property sector and its successes

Unite Students, the UK’s largest provider of student accommodation, has been named Student Accommodation Operator of the Year at leading property sector awards, RESI.

It was singled out for the way it supported students in 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Its student rent support provided since the outbreak of the pandemic totalled in excess of £100 million.

The RESI Awards, organised by Property Week, recognised that Unite Students was the first private provider of student accommodation in the UK to forgo rents for students returning home due to COVID-19 in March 2020. In 2021, in response to another lockdown, Unite Students took further action, including:

  • Offered students the flexibility to change the start of their tenancy
  • Allowed international students to live free-of-charge during their quarantine period
  • Offered a 50% rent discount for students for up to 10 weeks
  • Offered four-week complimentary extension of tenancy agreements in summer 2021
  • Kept all properties open and operational 24/7

Unite Students also piloted ‘Look after your mate workshops’ in partnership with Student Minds. These educated students to spot signs a friend might be struggling.

Sustainability focus

Another key focus in 2021 was sustainability – something students identified as a number one priority in Unite Students’ Sustainability Survey. In 2021, the Group published its net zero carbon pathway, setting out activities required to reach its net zero carbon target by 2030.

Unite has also taken bold action to show its commitment to tackling discrimination. It commissioned the UK’s first research study into the experience of Black students in student accommodation, the findings of which were published earlier this year.

Development highlights during the year included the opening of its new iconic £82m Manchester development and exchanged on a c.1-000 bed site in Stratford, London.

Development pipeline progress

Pipeline building work began on a 700-bed development at Derby Road, in Nottingham, while building work continued at Hayloft Point, a 920-bed scheme in Middlesex Street, Aldgate, London. Hayloft Point is due to open to students ahead of the 2022/23 academic year.

Providing a testimonial to the RESI Awards judges as part of Unite Students’ award submission, Martin Blakey, Chief Executive at Unipol, the student housing charity, said:

“During the pandemic, Unite Students gave rent refunds, interpreted those refunds with increasingly flexibility, offered reassurance to those who booked accommodation who then could not travel, looked sympathetically at cases where students needed to go back home to support their family and released them from their contracts.

“Let it be clearly stated: the Unite Students’ approach (later copied by many) was the correct one.”

Karan Khanna, Unite Students’ Chief Customer Officer, said:

“To be shortlisted for this prestigious award was a significant step, but to be announced as the Student Accommodation Operator of the Year is a very proud moment for everyone at Unite Students.

“This award recognises the hard work and determination of all our teams who have supported students in our properties throughout the pandemic and beyond. I want to take this opportunity to thank them for their hard work during what was a challenging time for all organisations.”


 Notes to Editors

For further information, please contact Unite Students press office on 0117 4506300 or email:

About Unite Students

Unite Students is the UK’s largest owner, manager and developer of purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) serving the country’s world-leading higher education sector. We provide homes to 74,000 students across 172 properties in 25 leading university towns and cities. We currently partner with over 60 universities across the UK.

Our people are driven by a common purpose: to provide a ‘Home for Success’ for the students who live with us. Unite Students’ accommodation is safe and secure, high quality, and affordable. Students live predominantly in en-suite study bedrooms with rents covering all bills, insurance, 24-hour security and high-speed wi-fi. We also achieved a five-star British Safety Council rating in our last audit in 2020.

We are committed to raising standards in the student accommodation sector for our customers, investors and employees. This is why our new Sustainability Strategy, launched in 2021, which includes our social impact strategy with a significant focus on providing opportunities for all.

Founded in 1991 in Bristol, the Unite Group is an award-winning Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT), listed on the London Stock Exchange. For more information, visit Unite Group’s corporate website or the Unite Students’ site