Research, insight & updates
What’s the latest research and insight from Unite Students? Delve into our findings on students, student life and student accommodation.
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.
How research drove the design of our latest development in Nottingham
Our latest flagship development, Morriss House in Nottingham, has welcomed its first students after opening in September 2023. The property, adjacent to the University of Nottingham’s Jubilee campus is the first of the Group’s properties to feature a new interactive welcome desk, extra study spaces, a shared social hub and outdoor theatre. Here, we chat to Dom Thomas, Operations Integration Manager, about how we used research and experience to design the properties features and amenities with students in mind.
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.
In Conversation With: James Tiernan, Head of Sustainability
Our goal is to lead on sustainability and raise standards in the living sector. We sat down with our Head of Sustainability James Tiernan, who leads our Sustainability Strategy, to discuss what’s changed since he joined us in 2012, what our focus is for the next year and how we’re creating places that deliver a positive impact for our people, our communities and the planet.
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.
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.
In conversation with: Nicholas Pigula, Sustainable Construction Manager
As part of our Sustainability Strategy launched in 2021, Unite Students committed to net zero development by 2030. We believe this ambition will help us play our part in tackling climate change for future generations to come. Here, we speak with Nicholas Pigula, Sustainable Construction Manager at Unite Students, to hear how the business is meeting its goal.
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 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.
A Day in the Life of… a Student Safety Manager (Nights)
What’s it like to work nights in the Unite Students safety team? We spoke to Dave Booth, Student Safety Manager (Nights) in Durham, about what his role looks like, its importance in providing a great student experience 24/7, and how he’s been an ally to LGBTQ+ students.
Resident Ambassadors: Creating community through events
Unite Students introduced its Resident Ambassador scheme in 2016, providing valuable peer-to-peer support in our buildings as well as a work and development opportunity for the students who live with us. With recruitment underway for the next academic year, we spoke to Izzy Pemberton, a first-year student at Manchester Metropolitan University, who has been a Resident Ambassador at New Medlock House since October 2022.
What does 1 million applicants mean for student accommodation?
Ahead of the release of Unite Students’ Journey To A Million essay, co-authored with Knight Frank, a panel of sector experts looks at what a million applicants means for student accommodation - covering supply and demand, research into the student experience, and what accommodation for the next generation of students looks like.
What do Indian students need from UK student accommodation?
As predicted by the government’s 2019 international student strategy, the number of Indian students studying in the UK has grown significantly in the past few years. Bernadette Cochonat, Head of International Sales at Unite Students, shares what trends have been identified within this student population, and how that shapes their accommodation needs.
In conversation with: Helene Murphy, Group People Director
Helene became Group People Director in January 2021, with a renewed vision for the People function. Leading all aspects of the People strategy, Helene has brought her experience from international start-ups and multi-national organisations to Unite. Here, Helene shares more about Unite’s ambition to deliver a Home for Success for our employees.
In conversation with: Karan Khanna, Chief Customer Officer
Karan leads the operational and commercial functions for Unite, working with his team to enhance the student experience, deliver commercial performance and raise brand awareness. He joined the business in June 2021 from InterContinental Hotels Group, where he served as managing director for the UK and Ireland. Here, Karan explains some of the focus areas for the year.
What do neurodivergent students want from university?
Unite Students has today published ‘An asset, not a problem: Meeting the needs of neurodivergent students’, a report on the experiences of students who are autistic and/or have ADHD, created in collaboration with students from Bristol University Neurodiversity Society (BUNS). Here are some top-line findings about their accommodation and university experience.
A Day in the Life of… a General Manager at Unite Students
Unite Students’ Day in the Life series is back to shine a spotlight on more of our frontline employees and the fantastic work they do in our city teams. First up is Karina Croft, General Manager for Leeds North, who has been with Unite Students since 2005 and last year won the CEO Award at our internal Stars Awards – we hear about a typical day in her role, how it felt to be recognised, and the most unusual situation she’s had to deal with.
Student belonging – more than a buzzword?
Student belonging is the Higher Education's current hot topic - but what does it all mean for accommodation? Jenny Shaw hosts a panel of experts to weigh in on what their research and experience has shown about students feeling a sense of belonging in their accommodation, how inclusion and wellbeing intersect with that sense of belonging, and how student accommodation practitioners can facilitate a community in which students feel they belong.
Interview: Improving operations processes at Unite Students
From living in our buildings to managing them, Lettie Hubbuck has had the full Unite Students experience. Now in the role of Head of Operations Support, we spoke to her about how her time staying with us shaped her approach to operations, how her new role facilitates improvements to our operations processes, and what operations improvements are coming down the track.
How Unite Students supports trans employees at work
George Moses - Student Experience Manager for Leeds South - shares his experience of transitioning while working at Unite Students, his journey to gender affirmation, and how student accommodation professionals can support students and colleagues going through this experience.
Unite Students’ Living Black at University Report: One year on from publication
It’s been a year since Unite Students published its Living Black at University report – here, we share what we’ve done since to support greater equity for Black students within the sphere of student accommodation, how we’ve partnered with others in the sector, and what’s still to come in 2023.