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Research, insight & updates

What’s the latest research and insight from Unite Students? Delve into our findings on students, student life and student accommodation.

Living Black at University: Our new partnership with CUBO

We are delighted to announce that the next stage of the Living Black at University Commission will be jointly led by Unite Students and CUBO (College and University Business Officers), as we look to continue the Commission’s work on supporting equity, inclusion and belonging in student accommodation and beyond.

How can we solve the student accommodation supply problem?

In our latest episode of Accommodation Matters, we get to grips with the student accommodation supply/demand problem - and how we can solve it.

What’s next for our Resident Ambassador programme?

By students, for students - our Resident Ambassador programme helps students to build a community in our buildings while being paid for their time and effort. Heather Hunter, Resident Experience Programmes Officer, shares how we enhanced the scheme for this academic year, some of the events our Ambassadors have run across the UK this year, and how we’re tweaking the programme for 2024/25 to make it even better.

Our new sustainability report: How Unite Students is making a positive impact

At Unite Students, we talk a lot about sustainability. But what do our actions mean in a wider context, what are we aiming for, and what have we achieved so far? We’ve laid it all out in our first annual sustainability report – available to download now.
10/04/2024
Corporate blogs

Q&A with Claire Barber

Claire Barber, Group Asset Management Director, joined Unite Students in January 2023. Here, she discusses the year’s key asset management work and major projects planned for 2024.
10/04/2024
Corporate blogs

Q&A With Joe Lister and Mike Burt

Q&A with Joe Lister, Chief Executive Officer & Mike Burt, Chief Financial Officer

Q&A with Karan Khanna

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.

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.

Sailesh Parmar: Fire Service Manager to PBSA Fire Safety

Sailesh Parmar joined Unite Students as Fire Safety Manager for special projects, in 2022. Here, Sailesh describes how he finds working for a PBSA sector leader and its diversity.

Interview: Kashyap Patel, Student Experience Team Member, gains skills

Kashyap Patel is an international student who moved from India to the UK four months ago. He talks about the skills he is developing.

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.

In Conversation With: Emma Taylor, Unite Students’ Employee of the Year 2023

Emma Taylor is Unite Students’ General Manager for Nottingham, home to our new 705-bed Morriss House property. She won Employee of the Year at the company’s 2023 Stars Awards.

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.

In Conversation With: Claire Barber, Asset Management Director

Claire Barber, Asset Management Director, joined Unite Students in January 2023. Here, she discusses her experience, current role, this year’s key asset management work and major projects for 2024.

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.
18/10/2023
Corporate blogs

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.

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