The 2014 Sodexo University Lifestyle Survey, the first since the introduction of the new university fee structure, found that students are increasingly choosing their university based on the facilities being provided for them. Out of the respondents, 38% of students said the attractiveness of the university’s estate was the prime factor in making their choice. In addition, more students are choosing to live on campus in self-catered accommodation (17% up from 15% two years ago).
Sodexo has recently launched its Student Living by Sodexo offer, an extensive portfolio of facilities management services designed around students’ needs when in their residences. Student Living by Sodexo incorporates everything from reception, helpdesk, energy management, mechanical and electrical maintenance, cleaning and horticultural services. As part of the offer, Sodexo can also handle the marketing and letting of rooms, finance and pastoral care functions, utilities and sinking fund management.
One of Sodexo’s most recent Student Living by Sodexo contracts is with Northumbria University in Newcastle, where Sodexo has signed a £500K per year deal to provide a range of facilities management services at the University’s brand new 993-bed student accommodation at Trinity Square, Gateshead. Northumbria University is a research-rich, business-focused university with a global reputation for academic excellence. It is one of the largest universities in the UK with more than 33,000 students from 135 countries.
Trinity Square represents the latest significant development investment by Northumbria and will provide students with first-class accommodation and an outstanding living experience. Students are in en suite rooms in shared flats for groups of three or five students, or in self-contained studio apartments with kitchen facilities for single users or couples. At level five there is a social ‘hub’ area which includes space for the young residents to lounge in front of large-screen TVs and games consoles, use the gym, or work or socialise in a number of zoned areas. Outside there is a sports court and a running route.
Damon Kent, Director of Campus Services at Northumbria University, said: “Trinity Square represents the latest significant development investment by Northumbria and we are really pleased to be embarking on an exciting new partnership with Sodexo. This will provide Northumbria students with first-class accommodation and an outstanding living experience.”
Leading Sodexo’s student services on the ground at Northumbria is the General Services Manager, Jamie Witts, supported by Student Experience Manager, Liesl Haney. Liesl’s role is to manage Sodexo’s relationship with the students in Trinity Square, taking care of any accommodation issues and helping to promote the services available. As with Sodexo’s student experience managers on other campuses, Liesl uses social media as an important tool to open up conversations with students and to gather feedback from them.
As part of Sodexo’s commitment to developing the student experience we employ two students part-time who work with their peers to undertake two group events every month. Students were recently treated to a visit from celebrity chef, Paul Rankin, in a competition organised by Liesl. Six lucky students enjoyed the opportunity to cook with Paul in groups of two and in their own flats, preparing variations on classic student recipes, such as spaghetti bolognese and chicken curry, and then inviting their friends to sample the results. The events were filmed and will be used in the Sodexo ‘Student Survival Guide’ that will be re-launched in the new year. Peter Taylor, Sodexo’s Strategic Development Director, commented: “Given the new fee structure, students are becoming more discerning about their choice of university. They are looking for universities that will offer the best ‘experience’, and facilities, accommodation, social space, catering and customer service all count towards that.
“We’re really excited about what we’ve been able to achieve with Student Living by Sodexo at Northumbria. The facilities, coupled with our unique approach to managing our relationship with students on campus, means that we can offer students a great experience.”