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In The Know! We talk all things Student Accommodation with Lynn and Trish

By PoppyHumphrey 17 Apr 2019


Lynn Wingate, Regional Manager, Sanctuary Students

ASRA Events Officer

 In your opinion, how are student's standard of living on the rise and what are the main reasons for this?

Steep competition, an abundance of choice and proliferation of high end studio style accommodation has increased the standard of living in student accommodation.  The private provider market has significantly increased, offering students improved accommodation than that previously provided by Institutions.  However, over the last couple of years institutions have invested in their accommodation to provide the same specification as the private providers – giving students more choice and affordability.

Increased investment in accommodation by hedge funds has enabled the build of luxurious accommodation which gives the investor a high return.

What expectations do students have of their accommodation, and how has this changed over the last 10 years?

Wealthy international students have high expectations on accommodation standards.  This cohort are already paying a significant amount of money to study in the UK and therefore expect their accommodation to match this investment. Students are seeking value for money – it’s no longer about ‘a bed’; students want larger rooms, double beds, study space, communal space, excellent customer service, hassle free living.  Students also want interaction with other students and expect their provider to deliver that experience in the form of events, clubs, social medial platforms etc.

International students are security conscious and seek accommodation which provides security, CCTV, a safe environment.

 What trends are you seeing across the student accommodation market in 2019?

The desire for common study space is on the increase, where students can either study solo or interact with their peers. 

Students are very social media aware, seeking feedback from their peers on accommodation through Facebook, YouTube etc.  They value peer reviews as opposed to business led information.  Internet access is paramount, and students insist on quick, easy and reliable service.

 What services are today's students being offered in their accommodation and why are these being introduced 

An increased focus on wellbeing has continued to gain momentum.  Students are vocal about looking after their mental health and will seek support for stress, anxiety and existing conditions.  Accommodation is now providing support either on site or by signposting students to support services. Support services can now be seen on accommodation sites – offering drop-in services such as sexual health, drugs and alcohol awareness sessions and a those offering a more holistic approach e.g. pet therapy.

Accommodation providers have introduced gyms, cinema rooms, music rooms, running clubs, craft clubs – all to enhance the student experience – and to attract students to the accommodation.

What are the key things that you keep in mind when building new student accommodation in terms of the services you provide?

Changes in study periods should be considered, this requires a flexible approach to accommodation needs. Students may spend less time at university and more distance learning/ on placements. A variety of accommodation should be considered that caters for both the short term e.g. one week to 6 months to the current longer-term student. Provision of both en-suite, shared and studio style accommodation is still required – but should consider jack and jill bathrooms, twin rooms, family and hotel style accommodation.

As interaction is important, common kitchens/study areas should be incorporated into the build out with the flatted areas. Affordability is important and therefore a range of accommodation should be available to suit budgets.


Trish Booth, Systems Manager, Student Living, Manchester Metropolitan University

ASRA North Regional Representative

 In your opinion, how are student's standard of living on the rise and what are the main reasons for this?

Following the introduction of higher education tuition fees, students now not only want the best from their education but also a better living experience.

They are researching more how to achieve the best overall experience and comparing the offers, almost on par to the supermarket experience of BOGOF!  They are cost conscious, a discerning customer and seek value for money.

 Added to this is the rise in institutions in making the connection that a better living environment has a positive impact upon a student’s mental health thus ensuring a positive time for the student and achieving retention for the university.

 We need to be flexible in moving from the traditional model of offering accommodation to full time students on 34 week plus programmes.  The rise of alternative courses i.e. modern apprenticeship degrees needs a different style of accommodation to be delivered i.e the ability to book for shorter periods, with multiple stayers in rooms over longer periods.  

 What expectations do students have for their accommodation and how has this changed over the past 10 years?

The move from traditional style accommodation ie shared catered halls to ensuite rooms with ¾ beds and access to instant faster internet.  However, the need for a safe environment is still prevalent along with location, location, location!  In seeking value for their money, they want to be on campus, close to amenities.

Social Media has played an important role in setting these expectations.  The incoming cohort of 18 year olds have grown up with their lives played to the external world, interacting, and self-validating their choices with their peers via these platforms.   

They want more than the 360-degree videos, photographs, tours and want to see exact location of the room they wish to live in and they want the information to hand.

 What trends are you seeing across the student accommodation market in 2019?

There is an increase in interest in studio accommodation; however, affordability is still a factor, which influences the uptake of this style of accommodation.

Students are more environmentally alert and expect their accommodation to offer services to support this.

They want an environment, which supports their living, their ability to learn and grow with their peers.  It needs to be hassle free, all-inclusive and no hidden costs.

The move to want answers there and then is leading to an increase in providers offering 24/7 contacts websites with live chat advisors and skype calls.

Whilst not at the forefront yet, gender housing will need to be more proactively supported. Debt remains an issue in today’s market, particularly when looking at supporting a student’s mental health. The use of mobile apps to offer a one stop shop for all services at a click of a button.

 What services are students being offered within their accommodation and why are these being introduced?

Students are now accessing onsite gyms, cinema rooms, bowling alleys, games areas.  All to encourage social interactions and community living. A happy student is a happy customer providing brand loyalty to the accommodation provider and a social media advertisement to their peers.

What are the key things that you keep in mind when building new student accommodation in terms of the services you provide?

 I’d summarise four key points:

 1. The provision of social spaces for students to encourage interactions.

 2. The impact upon the local community is paramount.

 3. The model of service ie flexibility.

 4. Environmental footprint.


PoppyHumphrey is ASRA Communications & IT Officer. Based at Manchester Student Homes
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