The UUK/GuildHE Student Accommodation Code is one of three codes of practice designed to monitor and improve standards of residential accommodation, providing students with safe, good quality, and well-managed places to live.
As CUBO Executive member Bryan Carroll steps down from the position of Chair of the Sector Advisory Group (SAG), he reflects on progress made over this last year on a number of key projects and the fantastic support received from colleagues within member institutions across the sector.
Without question this has been one of the busiest and most challenging periods for members of the SAG, the Code Administrator, and colleagues who have actively supported UUK projects. Alongside the usual business activities which involve reviewing audits, complaints, monitoring budgets and membership at three planned meetings per year – a series of projects were launched as part of the ongoing programme of continuous improvement to the Code and engagement with stakeholders.
These projects included:
● A replacement student accommodation code website, which was procured and developed as a collaborative venture with CampusLife. CampusLife brought a wealth of innovative ideas, and their experience of developing student-facing media has added a new dimension to the site. Launched in the summer of 2016, the site has already seen a significant increase in traffic compared to previous years, achieving its main objective of increasing awareness of the code amongst students.
● The development of e-learning code induction and training software for staff at member institutions. I am delighted to say, that as I write this piece the finishing touches are being applied, and a formal launch is scheduled at the Joint Codes Conference on the 11th November. UUK /GuildHE Code members will benefit from a dedicated and bespoke system that has been designed in conjunction with Walkgrove, an industry leader in the development of e-learning packages to the public and private sector. This is an exciting initiative, and I know from feedback it is eagerly anticipated and will help to increase awareness and understanding of the code to university staff.
● The SAG was commissioned by the Code Governance Board to undertake a ‘light touch’ review of the code. A review group was established and has met on three occasions so far to review the current code documentation. The process is due to be completed in 2017 with good progress being made to date. The intention is to provide a draft-updated code to the Governance Board in the spring of 2017 and then seek government support to introduce and transition for the 2017/18 audit cycle, which commences in the autumn of 2017.
Each of the projects have received fantastic contributions and diligence from all those involved; from creating an initial brief – which in some cases started with a blank piece of paper – through the various stages of design, procurement and development, through to completion.
It should be recognised that colleagues who sit on the Sector Advisory Group and project sub groups commit their time voluntarily in addition to their day jobs. Without this commitment and support, and the excellent organisation and administrative support provided by the Code Administrator, Claire Furnival, these projects would not be delivered to the exacting standards expected. So my appreciation and gratitude goes to all the many colleagues who have contributed to the ongoing success of the code both in this last frenetic year and during my time as SAG Chair. I look forward to seeing these projects come to fruition and play their part in helping students to get the best out of their living experience at University.