Housing Codes of Practice

Bryan Carroll asks, could The Act be a catalyst for improving quality and the student experience?

The Act set out the agenda for approved codes of practice, allowing providers who became code members to gain exemption from HMO licensing, by demonstrating compliance with a set of management standards.

Following extensive consultation and the involvement of a wide range of sector professional representative groups (including AUDE, CUBO, ASRA, AMOSSHE, CHEIA, USHA), plus the NUS, CLG and major private providers, three codes of practice were approved by Parliament in April 2006. 

●The Universities UK Code of Practice for University Managed Student Housing
●The ANUK/Unipol Code of Standards for Larger Residential Developments for Student Accommodation Managed and Controlled by Educational Establishments
●The ANUK/Unipol Code of Standards for Larger Developments for Student Accommodation NOT Managed and Controlled by Educational Establishments 

With over 450,000* bed spaces now covered by one of the three codes across England and Wales, Bryan Carroll, the CUBO Executive member with responsibility for the newly created Quality Assurance portfolio, reflects on the important role the codes have played to improve the student residential experience and outlines CUBO’s part in their development. 

Bryan believes that all three codes have brought an important level of reassurance to students, parents, institutions, operators and government about the quality of accommodation. Through external audits and objective scrutiny, adherence to the code standards demonstrates that accommodation is well managed and compliant with the necessary legislation. Prior to the introduction of the codes, these elements often went unnoticed. With code compliance audits now reported through an institution’s governance committee (typically an Audit Committee) this provides an important level of visibility. 

It demonstrates not only compliance but also where the accommodation management system excels, where any weaknesses exist, and opportunities for improvement. From the outset, the codes were designed not just as an avenue to state how complaints can be tabled – although this is an important part of the process – they were about making students better informed customers and providing clear information about the standards they could expect. 

All three codes are designed as statements of good practice that continue to be refined. The aspiration is for continuous improvement allowing members to engage and learn from best practice. Continuous improvement and the sharing of good practice has been a key theme throughout recent years. The annual National Codes Conference organised by ANUK/Unipol, which is now in its fifth year, has brought together members of all three codes to share best practice and encourage networking. It continues to be a popular event receiving very favourable feedback from those attending. 

For its part CUBO continues to support all three codes. It has a seat on the ANUK/Unipol Codes Committee of Management, and in his role on the CUBO Executive, Bryan has been invited to be part of a Review Group to look at the Code for Non-Educational Establishments in 2015. CUBO continues to actively support the UUK-led code and undertakes the important role of Code Administrator. This latter role has been fulfilled by Sheffield Hallam University and more recently by Newcastle University. With the anticipated future growth in student accommodation, managed and operated by both institutions and private providers, there is a strong argument to suggest that the codes will play an increasingly prominent role in safeguarding management standards and ensuring that students enjoy an excellent residential experience. 

The collaborative and inclusive approach adopted by both ANUK/Unipol and UUK is one that should be applauded and encouraged going forward to support future development of the codes, and further enhance standards in the management of student accommodation. 

Bryan Carroll is Deputy Director of Estates & Facilities, and Head of Campus and Commercial Services at Southampton Solent University. He is commenting here in his capacity as a member of the CUBO Executive Committee

W: www.cubo.org.uk

* The ANUK codes have over 200,000 member bed spaces drawn from purpose-built student accommodation providers, and FE & HE institutions. The UUK Code has in excess of 250,000 member bed spaces comprising HE institutions (England & Wales)

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