During one of our regular catch-up meetings, we commented to one another, how much we enjoy working together, sharing ideas and collaborating on projects. Whilst we are aware there are endless moving parts and challenges to navigate through, we always ensure that students are safe, happy and feeling at home in our Residence Halls.
At King’s College London, we house 6,300 students across 13 different residence sites. Over 2,300 of these are housed by the team at Unite Students. King’s College London has over 40 students living in Unite Students’ Halls that undertake a variety of roles vital to the student experience. These are a mixture of Wardens, Community Facilitators and Residence Associates that fall under the leadership of the Residence Life Team.
With the increasing demands of the student experience, coupled with the growing student population in search of accommodation in Central London, how do we work together to provide a unified, cohesive experience that students will remember, for all the right reasons?
Through a united vision (no pun intended…), our relationship has supported the growth and development of the ResiLife Programme at Kings College London.
I spoke with Brenna Haydock, Community Engagement Officer at the University who confirmed the benefits of partnership working: “Having traditionally worked for institutions which manage all the residence life, student support and student experience in house, I was apprehensive knowing that the Residence Life Programme which I was developing and leading would be shared across 13 different sites in London and among residences which are staffed and managed by external companies. However, the guiding values and principles of our partnering sites, and the relationships that we have built through strong communication and unified goals, has made this partnership successful.”
The student staff members work closely with the reception teams at each of the King’s College London – Unite Students properties. To build this collaboration the Resilife staff work reception shifts and attend team social gatherings to foster a relationship of respect and showcase the needs of the student body unique to the halls and cohort of each year. We see the ResiLife Team as an extension of the Unite Students team, there is no difference between us, especially from the student’s perspective. We work with Brenna and the ResiLife Team to see where we can support each other in the large-scale events and programmes that are being run in each of our buildings.
Through the partnership of King’s College London and Unite Students all of the Residence Managers, as well as reception staff are encouraged to join in on the monthly Residence Events Committees which are hosted by Community Facilitators. By providing an open forum this enables students the opportunity to voice their ideas for events and community engagement. The staff (including student officers) and resident population work together to have a finger on the pulse of the building community and through this we are able to deliver a student experience that is driven by the collective voice of the building population.
Co-branding is also really important to the student experience, and it allows us to ensure that the students have access to the support provided by both King’s College London and Unite Students.
We work together on a consistent welcome experience at all of our properties to help deliver a message of unified support to all of the incoming students. On the first night of move-in weekend, each residence will host a welcome dinner ‘mixer’ to gather the students at each of the sites. On Sunday, all the students, across all our residence sites come together centrally for one BBQ where the message is clear; ‘Welcome Home’. Brenna summarises the relationship by saying: “It’s evident that there’s no competition between our companies. This allows the working relationship to be one of collaboration for our common goal for a positive student experience.”
The message is clear from the beginning; we are all on the same team, and our focus is on the students.