By James McCracken, Marketing and Communications Director, Campus Living Villages
With that comes the hordes of 17- and 18-year-olds banging down the doors to take tours around the UK’s universities and question us about everything from teaching hours to research standards and the quality of student services.
Something which is included in every tour worth its salt is a look at the student accommodation the university provides. Students may have already read about their prospective halls online or heard about them from friends and family, but this is the first time they will be seeing the accommodation in the flesh. So, it’s important for universities and accommodation providers to start thinking about how they convince students to select their accommodation over another.
This is something Campus Living Villages has explored with research company EduWorld. The research surveyed more than 5,000 current university students in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. The results showed that among students living in the UK, more than two thirds (67%) consulted their parents before choosing where to live, 29% consulted their friends and 17% consulted other students. And they do have some influence on students’ decisions. Just over a third of UK students (36%) say their parents were very influential, 23% say the same of their friends and 20% say this about other students. For the most part, however, our findings suggest students will ultimately make the decision based on their own perception of different institutions’ accommodation options.
The research also explored why students chose the accommodation they live in. In the current climate, accommodation providers and universities might expect students to make their decision based on overall cost, but our research showed that among students in the UK, this isn’t the case. When asked to select their top five reasons for choosing their current accommodation, students said they based their decision on whether it had a private bathroom (63%), all-in-one billing (47%) or was less than 10 minutes from university (36%). The preferences of students for quality and convenient accommodation at a reasonable price, rather than budget accommodation without home comforts, is a trend which accommodation providers and universities need to pay attention to.
It seems, however, that these trends are specific to UK students. Among students surveyed in Australia and New Zealand, parents were consulted at a lower rate, but were seen as more influential. Students in these countries also prioritised the overall cost of accommodation when choosing their current accommodation. This highlights the importance of providers who operate in multiple countries tailoring their accommodation to the needs of different markets.
As UK students begin making decisions about what university they want to attend and where they want to live, accommodation providers and universities will need to show that they understand student preferences and concerns. Our research shows that while students in Australia and New Zealand go for cost of quality, UK students are concerned primarily with quality and convenience and that should be front of mind when speaking to students. Providers also need to understand the role parents have in students’ decisions and ensure they consider their influence.