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What our Student Assistance Programme offers students

As the first purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) provider to offer a student support service, Unite Students is constantly looking to evolve its student wellbeing offer. New for 2023/24, our Student Assistance Programme bolsters our provision of round-the-clock support. Here, we outline what the programme includes, how it has benefited our residents, and what we’ve learned since launch.

How can Higher Education end student loneliness?

The 2023 Student Academic Experience Survey showed that 1 in 4 students feels lonely most or all of the time – and that number is growing. With loneliness carrying the same health risks as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and having a substantial impact on mental health, academic performance and student retention, this month we’re asking: how can Higher Education end student loneliness?

Interview: Putting student safety first at Unite Students

Student safety is of the utmost importance at Unite Students. Our Birmingham North team’s focus on safety was recognised at our Stars Awards in November, picking up three awards. We caught up with Davinder Sanghera, General Manager, and Dean Ditta, Student Safety Manager (Nights), about their award-winning safety approach. 

Meet our Regional Student Support Managers

Our three Regional Student Support Managers advise our frontline teams on complex support cases, work with university partners to provide a joined-up support process for students and help to develop our staff training. For University Mental Health Day, we spoke to Ami-Rose, Luke and Jenny to find out how they got into student support, what they want to achieve in 2024, and what issues they think need more focus in student support.

What student accommodation teams should know about Chinese culture

Bernadette Cochonat, Head of International Sales and Partnerships at Unite Students, first developed a Chinese cultural awareness workshop for our teams in 2017 – since then, she’s run more than 100 sessions. Here, she tells us about her workshops: why she created them, some of the insights she shares with our teams, and what’s next for the programme.

Interview: Meet Lettie and Vic – our new Heads of Operations

Living with us as students, working their way up through our operations teams and with experience in our central support functions - Lettie Hubbuck and Vic Simmons are the perfect ambassadors for Unite Students. With Lettie and Vic having recently been promoted to Heads of Operations across our Scotland & the North and South & Central regions respectively, we caught up with them to find out what their core principles are for student accommodation.

What the Building Safety Act means for student accommodation

The eighth season of Accommodation Matters is here - and this time, we're talking everything to do with the Building Safety Act and how it intersects with student accommodation.

How accommodation teams can support national work on student mental health

Jenny Shaw (HE External Engagement Director at Unite Students) gives an overview of the work of the Higher Education Mental Health Implementation Taskforce, five actions for student accommodation teams and how you can submit your own good practice to inform the Taskforce’s work.

A Day in the Life of… a Housekeeping Team

Our housekeeping teams do much more than just keeping our buildings spick and span – they’re a trusted, supportive presence for our residents and play an important role in picking up student wellbeing concerns. We caught up with Margaret Graham (Housekeeping Team Leader), Liz Park and Radi Dimitrova (Housekeeping Team Members) from our experienced Glasgow housekeeping team to hear about a typical day in their role, how their role supports the student experience, and the importance of teamwork.

How our community projects are creating a positive impact

Sustainability at Unite Students isn’t just about reducing carbon – it’s also about having a positive impact on local communities. Through our Positive Impact programme, many of our teams have set up community projects to give back to their local area.  We’ve showcased four projects, and shared how our teams have worked with students, organisations and universities to create a positive social impact. 

Interview: Using data to deliver a better student experience

“Data is becoming more and more important in the future of any business,” says Kim Nisbett, Head of Insight at Unite Students. We caught up with Kim about her award-winning Insight and Analytics team, how they use data to help teams make informed, long-term decisions, and how our student panel challenges assumptions about what students want.

A Day in the Life of… a Facilities Manager at Unite Students

Our Facilities teams are the unsung heroes that keep everything working in our properties – but what does that look like from day to day? We spoke to Andy Hayes, Facilities Manager for Liverpool North, about what a typical day looks like in his role, how his team works together to fix issues on-site, and how his teams support the student experience in our buildings.

Interview: The changing landscape of international students

Bernadette Cochonat, Head of International Sales and Partnerships at Unite Students, has a wealth of experience in the international student space. We caught up with her about her own experiences, what she’s seeing in the sector right now, and what the future will bring in terms of international students’ needs and concerns.

The future of social impact in Higher Education

How can student accommodation give back to local communities? We look at the future of social impact in Higher Education and PBSA.

University Mental Health Charter: 6 questions you should ask your accommodation providers

Working towards the University Mental Health Charter? Here are (at least) six questions universities should ask their private purpose-built student accommodation partners.

The future of race and inclusion in student accommodation

Hot off the launch of the new Living Black at University Commission report, we’re continuing our focus on the future of sustainability within purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) with this month’s episode on race and inclusion in student accommodation.

Why there’s a new Living Black at University report

Jen Steadman, Commissioning Editor of the new 2022/23 Living Black at University Commission report, explains why there’s a new Living Black at University report, what it covers and what’s next for the Commission.

5 themes for PBSA from the Festival of Higher Education

Last week, Unite Students went to the Festival of Higher Education (7-8 November) to hear what’s on the HE sector’s mind right now. We picked up on five key themes from the conference – here’s what was shared, and what those themes might mean for purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA). 

What sustainable construction looks like at Unite Students

Nicholas Pigula, Sustainable Construction Manager, shares how Unite Students builds sustainable student accommodation - and our next steps for becoming a net-zero carbon organisation.

Interview: How our contact centre influences students’ experience

From living with us to listening to our current residents - Contact Centre Manager Alice Bone has seen it from both sides at Unite Students. In Alice’s own words, the contact centre is a place of innovation and rich data that "tells the story of the students that live with us." Read on to find out what role the contact centre plays in student wellbeing, how the data helps us create a better living experience for our residents, and what trends Alice has seen in her nine years in the contact centre.

How can we help Black students to settle in at university?

A key finding from last year’s Living Black at University report was that a lack of culturally relevant services in many UK cities contributed towards many Black students feeling like they didn’t belong at university. As part of the Unite Students Commission on Living Black at University, we wanted to take action so that Black students could more easily acclimatise to university life. Here’s how we co-created a brand new resource to support Black students moving away from home for the first time.

The future of environmental sustainability in PBSA

Environmental sustainability is ever-more important within the purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) sector - but how can we get to net-zero in operations and development, and what does the future hold? Our expert panel explores some of the challenges and solutions.

Interview: The importance of university partnerships at Unite Students

Partnered with more than 60 universities across England, Scotland and Wales, Unite Students is committed to strong, mutually beneficial university relationships.  We spoke to Simon Jones, University Partnerships Director at Unite Students, about what he’s learned from his time overseeing our national operations, the importance of understanding the student lifecycle, and the key to great university relationships.

A Day in the Life of… a Student Experience Team Leader at Unite Students

Our Day in the Life interview series is back, shining a spotlight on our frontline employees and the fantastic work they do to help students thrive in our buildings. This time, we spoke to Henriett ‘Hena’ Olah-Nagy, Student Experience Team Leader at Cambrian Point, Cardiff to find out what a typical day looks like in her role, some of the events she’s supported students with, and how her own experiences of moving to the UK have helped her to support international students as they settle into life in the UK.

Embedding diversity and inclusion at Unite Students

In June 2022, Unite Students launched a three-year Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging (DEIB) and Wellbeing strategy. More than a year on, we outline the progress we’ve made against the strategy, and some of the ways in which we’ve embedded diversity, inclusion and belonging into Unite Students for the benefit of both students and employees.

Interview: How we create social impact at Unite Students

Purpose-built student accommodation isn’t just a building – it’s about being a positive and engaged part of a local community. We spoke to Ivy Yarrow, Social Impact Manager at Unite Students, for a deeper dive into what social impact looks like at Unite Students and the benefits it provides for our employees, students, university partners, charities and local communities.

Delivering a better student experience though ‘CARE’

Arriving in student accommodation for the first time can be exciting – but also daunting. Jo Blair, Head of Quality and Standards at Unite Students, shares how a revamp of our customer service ‘CARE’ principles will help students to feel more welcome within our buildings during the 2023/24 academic year.

Enhancing the student experience in accommodation for 23/24

With a new academic year rapidly approaching, we wanted to know what new and exciting initiatives are being rolled out to enhance the student experience in purpose-built student accommodation around the UK – so we asked our Accommodation Matters listeners to submit their own contributions about what they’re doing differently for the 2023/24 academic year.

How can we help university applicants to live independently?

Lottie Randomly, Leapskills Consultant at Unite Students, shares additional research we’ve undertaken with school teachers to understand the needs of the current cohort, and how the findings from both this and the Index highlight the need to prepare young people for independent living at university.

Support to Stay: Improving our student support framework

Over the last year, Unite Students has trialled Support to Stay – an innovative student support framework designed to align with university processes. Here, we delve into what Support to Stay is, what came out of the trial phase, and what it means for the full Support to Stay roll-out in the 2023/24 academic year.

How important is sustainability to students and university applicants?

Our latest research findings suggested that this year’s university applicants are less likely to make sacrifices to live sustainably than last year’s cohort. We explore some of the reasons why sustainability may be a challenge area for students and applicants - and whether student behaviour really does matter in creating more sustainable student accommodation.

What do we know about the class of 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.

7 things we know about this year’s university applicants

Delving into university applicants’ attitudes, needs and confidence in comparison to last year’s cohort, Unite Students’ 2023 Applicant Index is now available to download. From sustainability and finances to wellbeing and independence, here are some of the key takeaways from this year’s report.

Applicant Index foreword: “This cohort of students will shape our world”

In his foreword for Unite Students’ 2023 Applicant Index report, Richard Smith - Chief Executive at Unite Students - shares his thoughts on our findings about this year’s cohort of university applicants, and what they mean for the Higher Education sector.

Supporting students through the cost of living crisis

Last year’s cost of living episode of Accommodation Matters proved to be the most popular yet – but more than a year on, how has the cost of living crisis moved on, and what does the cost of living picture look like for students in 2023?

Interview: Exploring the student experience through research

Since she joined Unite Students in 2012, Jenny Shaw (HE External Engagement Director) has been a driving force behind our research programme, the introduction of our student support provision, and initial launch of the Unite Foundation, among other things. We caught up with Jenny about her passion for inclusion, her role in making student support a focus within purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA), and the next big research topic for Higher Education.

Living Black at University: 3 resources to support change

The Unite Students Commission on Living Black at University is delighted to share a series of resources to support the wider Higher Education sector in achieving race equity and creating a more welcoming university community for Black students.

Supporting international students’ mental health

International students are a substantial part of the UK's student population, but how do their mental health needs differ from those of home students?

Supporting Black students at university: A parents’ guide

One of the starkest findings from the Living Black at University report was the mental health challenge faced by Black students in UK student accommodation. Guest contributor Melissa Browne, Deputy Director of Commercial Services and Estates at University of Kent and Vice Chair of CUBO (College and University Business Officers), has seen the impact first-hand in her family – now, she shares her advice for parents of Black students on how to support them during their university experience.

UCAS: What is the ‘Journey To A Million’?

Following on from our latest Accommodation Matters episode ‘What does 1 million applicants mean for student accommodation?’, we now share Jenny Shaw’s full interview with Ben Jordan, Head of Policy at UCAS, about the UCAS ‘Journey To A Million’ essay series – sponsored by Unite Students and Knight Frank.

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