At StudentCrowd, we believe that the ‘student voice’ cannot be boiled down to one statement or story. There are 2.6 million students studying in the UK and, collectively, they have lots of different experiences to share. Sometimes, the best thing we can do to represent students is to present the diversity of their experiences.
How students found their accommodation in 2020 typifies this dichotomy. Some students struggled as their living situation was profoundly impacted by the pandemic. Other students praised their accommodation providers for going above and beyond their duty of care to meet students’ needs.
Student Roost, St Mungo’s
My stay has been amazing. I was impressed particularly during Covid how often the building was being cleaned. The reception staff has been exceptional in my view, always willing to offer help. It is within close proximity to Strath which was a plus for me.
StudentCrowd captures students’ experiences on our platform. At the end of last year, students used videos to tell us how they were feeling about their accommodation, whether that was university halls, shared student houses, private purpose built student accommodation or at home. Below are their responses to our questions:
1. How has your accommodation experience been this year?
Overall, students describe a positive experience but it is clear that some of the challenges they have faced are very specific to 2020, such as needing support when isolating, appreciating being able to socialise on Zoom and help with food deliveries.
The functional problems such as maintenance and appliances are highlighted in students that lived in shared houses, however in student accommodation, those needs were cared for on the whole so students talked about their social experiences and the support from the operating teams.
Abodus, Hollingbury House
Great service all in all, super helpful if any problems arise (if there are any) and with the help of staff everything is sorted out quickly and professionally whilst keeping safe during the pandemic. Reception is also very helpful and friendly.
2. What is most important to you when choosing next year’s accommodation?
The usual themes of price and location really stood out, however no matter the type of accommodation they were looking at, students were very vocal about their desire to live with friends or people they will get along with. Some anticipated the need to self-isolate in the future and others were concerned about being stuck and lonely. Another key theme was health and safety and cleanliness. One comment that stuck out to us was about ‘life outside your bedroom’. 2020 has brought into sharp relief the importance of outdoor spaces and social areas of student accommodation.
Really enjoying it so far, even with Covid, it’s still a great place to be, and the other students really put in an effort to socialise, even with the restrictions
3. What have been the main factors in deciding whether you drop out or stay at university?
It has clearly been a tough year with many being very honest about mental health challenges. Online learning has been stressful and the lack of interaction with peers is having an impact on making uni life fun and delivering a full experience. But as these students tell you, they worked hard to get there and the support of the people they encounter through their student journey has had a positive influence.
4. How have your parents/guardians influenced your choice of accommodation?
In the summer of 2020, StudentCrowd experienced a big increase of parents using our platform. It led us to want to understand the influence of parents in decision-making within higher education. Students described price as the main area that was influenced by their parents, with the setting of budgets or students worrying about spending their parents’ money. These videos indicate that parents do have a say but also allow their children to make decisions.
Student Roost, The Towpath
As a parent we chose towpath because of the on site 24 hour staff , close location to parkgate campus and the city centre and from a friends recommendation. We and our daughter have been really happy with the choice and she hopes to return for her final year of study of travel restrictions are lifted.
Online learning and social restrictions have followed us into 2021, but reflecting on 2020 may help us stay positive about the future of student accommodation. As we look to the rest of this academic year, listening to students’ viewpoints can guide the service and support we offer to students as we continue to operate through these troublesome times. We know that we are not alone in hoping that next academic year will allow students to live a full university life!
For more: check out our article on how the pandemic affected student reviews.