South West Representative Ian Bell
Regional Manager for Host
What do you enjoy most about working in student accommodation?
Working in the different cities of Cardiff, Bath, Exeter, Plymouth and Dublin and I am in the fortunate position of seeing the different and varied accommodation provision being provided as well as the different offers from the Universities in respect of courses and approach. In recent times I have seen the change in the partnership working between universities and the PBSA providers in a more joined up approach in respect of student welfare and the overall student experience which I find exciting. Good quality accommodation in the right location along with the university offer and local amenities are all crucial to a fantastic student experience.
Can you provide details about a specific student accommodation project that you’ve been involved in, that you’re proud of?
My first success was managing a PBSA property in Cardiff from a cleared site through the construction and mobilisation to being a success, the at the time Victoria Hall property on Blackweir Terrace was one of the first to be built in the city (I am that old) and was met with resistance at the time from the Universities. It took some time to win over but ended with a nomination agreement with Cardiff University and I like to think contributed to bringing the value of the PBSA sector to the universities to widen the choices and offers in respect of accommodation for potential students.
What does ASRA mean to you?
Great networking for good practice and to learn from each other’s experiences, ensuring that we are meeting the needs of the universities and students in respect of current and future accommodation. A platform for cross learning and understanding across the sectors as accommodation and academic success for me are linked.
What is your best ASRA memory?
Aviemore Resort Scotland 2019, my first conference and opportunity to meet people from across the sector. Not only a beautiful location that needs further exploration one day but also a realisation that even though there is a lot of competition particularly in the PBSA sector that we are all focused on doing what is best for the student and providing a home away from home and family piece of mind.
Thoughts on the future
I think a stronger focus on choice for the students and a range of accommodation to suit budgets, it is lovely having all singing all dancing accommodation choices, but these can come at a cost, there needs to be options for those seeking more basic provision or that meets budgets. This doesn’t mean that good quality accommodation along with excellent customer service, safety and security should be sacrificed. A growing challenge for us all is the student experience and in particular student welfare and health.
Full description of roles and responsibilities can be found in the members area.
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