Student wellness: the managed internet effect

Students are happier, safer and more secure when their accommodation providers use a smart building infrastructure. Paula Benoit, CEO of PCCW Global Networks (UK), outlines the benefits

For the vast majority of students, time at university is a pleasurable experience – a time when many young people discover themselves and begin their lives as adults. For some though, it is often a difficult time, away from friends and family, as well as having to deal with issues such as budgeting and managing their studies. Coping with these challenges can have a detrimental impact on student mental health.

Recent statistics from mental health charity Mind reveal over 15,000 first-year students in UK universities reported that they had a mental health problem, compared to approximately 3,000 in 2006. While increased awareness and willingness to be open about these problems may account for part of this growth, it’s clear that the problem of student wellbeing is a growing concern. Indeed, student mental health and wellness is being pushed higher up the government’s agenda, with several initiatives being launched in the past few years.

For many, going to university will mean living away from home for the first time, moving young people away from their support network. Homesickness is a commonly reported problem, especially during the first few months of term. To help overcome this, many will turn to online services and social media to keep in touch with their family and friends. 

It’s therefore essential that residents in purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) and other student accommodation have access to a fast, reliable internet service.

Mobile phones are a staple for young people these days, but the cost of data, coupled with often poor indoor coverage, means it’s up to the accommodation providers to invest in a managed internet service themselves.

Deploying ultrafast fibre optic infrastructure throughout a building ensures the perfect backbone for providing the fast and reliable internet connectivity that students demand. The service should be easy to use and support the array of devices used by today’s students. Getting up and running quickly means students can stay in touch with the people that matter to them from the moment they move in. The stress and worry about the cost of keeping in touch is also removed when the service is included in the rent. Such an inclusion is, of course, beneficial for accommodation providers too, making a property more desirable and therefore more likely to be fully booked.

The other benefit of deploying this smart building infrastructure is the ability to add additional environmental monitoring and security technologies, using the same fibre that supports the student broadband. An array of smart sensors, such as for legionella monitoring, temperature and air quality, can provide a wealth of useful information to the building operator.

Most importantly though, this information can be used to improve wellness among students. Ensuring a comfortable temperature and better air quality encourages improved sleeping patterns and has been proven in numerous studies to improve cognitive ability and ultimately educational performance. Students are happier, safer and more secure thanks to these simple changes.

Technology on its own cannot solve all the mental health and wellness issues faced by students, but it can go a long way to making things easier for them. Taking away some concerns about cost, allowing them to keep in contact with friends and family and providing them a safe and comfortable environment will all help.


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