Welcoming Students in 2020
7 September 2020
Preparing to welcome students to their new homes for 2020/21 academic year
We understand the importance of home at Unite Students.
A home isn’t just a place where you live – the last five months following the outbreak of Covid-19 have certainly reinforced that. A home is where you work, study, learn, sleep, relax, keep fit, cook, eat, drink, socialise, connect, entertain and so much more besides.
It’s also central to Unite’s business purpose – Home for Success – meaning everything we do is aligned to providing a safe and secure home to help students succeed at university.
It’s those homes in 177 properties across 27 UK university towns and cities which we’ve spent the last few months getting Covid ready to welcome students to the start of the 2020/21 academic year.
We have enhanced social distancing measures, with clear markings in every property, hand sanitiser is readily available, and screens are up in our reception areas to protect students and our staff.
As the only student accommodation provider to hold a 5-star accredited rating by the British Safety Council, we have first-class cleaning and hygiene standards.
Due to Covid and the knock-on impact on this year’s A-level results, we’ve endeavoured to make our bookings process as flexible as possible. We are doing all we can to make sure students aren’t disadvantaged because of Covid.
Where changes to accommodation bookings have been needed because students missed out on their preferred courses, we’ve promised no rent will be payable for cancellations – in short ‘no place, no pay’.
Where students have changed universities after receiving higher predicted grades, we’ve transferred bookings to cities where we have properties with rooms available. We will continue to be as flexible as possible in the run up to the start of the academic year.
For the first time this year, we’ve also instigated a digital check-in procedure. This should help maintain everyone’s safety while adhering to Government guidelines. Students are able to book their slots for arrival in advance of check-in.
And where students need to quarantine in their homes having arrived from a Covid-restricted area, or country, we will allow them to check-in early, where possible, at no-extra cost so they don’t miss that crucial start to the new academic year.
We connect all our students via a digital MyUnite app long before they move in so they can get to know each other and remain in touch after they’ve arrived. It was a system we developed after listening to student requests. And it’s a system which will be more vital than ever for students this year, particularly with many university activities associated with the start of term, as well as large-scale lectures, being moved online. The same app allows student to book maintenance visits and select laundry slots, all from the comfort of their home.
Once students have moved into their new homes, our safety teams work around the clock to ensure students are safe and secure in their new homes. We also offer 24-7 welfare and wellbeing support with specially trained welfare leads operating in every city. They work closely with universities to ensure students are receiving the right level of support.
To find out more, please read our welfare support fact sheet.
The majority of our accommodation are en suite flats around shared kitchens. This allows students to live as small households. To help foster a sense of community while living with the continuing Covid restrictions, we’ve also introduced a Home Charter for students for the first time this year. It’s designed to act as a reminder to everyone to respect each other, our staff and those living around them in the wider community. It’s been widely welcomed by students.