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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.

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.

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 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?
18/05/2023
Corporate blogs

What does the Journey to a Million mean for student accommodation?

In this Journey to a Million essay, Unite Students and Knight Frank explore the impact that a million applicants will have on student accommodation.

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.
18/04/2023
Blogs

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.
05/04/2023
Blogs

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.
05/04/2023
Blogs

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.
28/03/2023
Podcasts

How can Higher Education meet the needs of neurodivergent students?

An expert sector panel discusses Unite Students' new report on neurodivergent students' university experience and what universities and accommodation providers can do to better meet their needs.

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.

6 lessons from the Living Black at University Conference

What actions did our delegates take away from the Living Black at University Conference to create a more equitable living environment for Black students? Here are six key takeaways from the day.

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.

In conversation with: Richard Morris’ drive to update our Family Leave Policy

In conversation with Unite Students’ Head of Operations (Financial Planning & Analysis), Richard Morris, who drove the company's Family Leave Policy update

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.
16/02/2023
Corporate blogs

Cost of Living: How we’re supporting students and employees

We’re introducing a new package of measures for students, including a pilot partnership with Aldi to offer food vouchers to those most in need during the cost-of-living crisis.

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.

Living Black at University: Call for case studies

We are inviting the submission of case studies to be included in the Unite Students Commission on Living Black at University's final report, to be published in summer 2023.

Interview: Insights into university partnership working

Moray Notman, University Partner Commercial Director, reflects on over a decade in the sector: how he worked his way up from operations management; the importance of university partnerships; and what 2023 will bring for him and the wider student accommodation market.

‘Creating meaningful change’: A Living Black at University Conference

The Unite Students Commission on Living Black at University is delighted to announce that the Living Black at University Conference will be taking place in Newcastle on Tuesday 7th March 2023. This free one-day event is open to universities, accommodation providers, and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) leads in the sector.

What new research is Unite Students working on in 2023?

Jenny Shaw explores what 2023 brings for Unite Students, including new research and resources to share with the Higher Education sector.

Supporting students in accommodation over the winter break

As the winter university break approaches, so does the inevitable narrative of students ‘returning home for Christmas’ – but what does that mean for those who remain in accommodation over the holiday? We explore some of the reasons why students stay in their accommodation over the festive season, best practice for inclusive operations and communications, and how Unite Students is supporting students over this period.

What are student accommodation marketing’s latest trends?

Jenny Shaw hosts two experts as they share their thoughts on marketing to students, including current data trends, the impact of cost of living, and the use of social media.

Meet our 3 regional Heads of Operations

We caught up with our three Head of Operations to find out about their journey into the student accommodation sector, how they manage operations across their patch, and their priorities for this academic year.
23/11/2022
Corporate blogs

Playhouse findings are most important in Unite Students’ history

During our development of Hayloft Point, our flagship property in the heart of the London, a Museum of London Archaeology team discovered the Boar’s Head Playhouse, the most significant find during Unite Students’ 30 years of building properties.

How can we reduce harm from student risk-taking behaviours?

What does the Higher Education sector need to know about student risk-taking behaviours, and how they can support students and reduce harm? Our expert sector panel speaks to Jenny Shaw.

5 sustainability lessons from Global Student Living Live 2022

For the first time since 2019, Global Student Living Live returned to the conference circuit, with this year’s event focused on sustainability in purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA). Unite Students were in attendance to hear about everything from smart tech to bug burgers – so here are our key takeaways from the event.

Student accommodation: Home or hotel?

Accommodation Matters is back - and we’re kicking off the new series by looking at the intersection between student accommodation and the hospitality sector.

In conversation with: Luke Brooker helps support wellbeing on our development sites

In conversation with Luke Brooker, Head of Delivery at Unite Students. He spoke to us about his role, mental health, wellbeing initiatives onsite and overcoming practical challenges to deliver these.

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