ASRA – The Student Accommodation People

Karen Burke, ASRA Chair and Accommodation Services Manager at Sheffield Hallam University, writes her Chairs’ review of the year

I thought long and hard about what has been happening over the last year. There have been many discussions regarding Brexit and the effect that it could have on recruitment as well as what the election will mean for the FE/HE sector. I thought about looking a bit at how ASRA has evolved over the years and I decided that I would look at the words that the management team have used in designing and promoting our mission, vision and values.

Karen Burke

Inclusivity: I think the organisation has grown over the years and our ethos has been about promoting inclusivity comprising an all-embracing membership. Whether this is University or PBSA staff, I think it’s so important that we see we are all there for the same ends in ensuring our customers have a great experience!

Opportunities: We need to ensure we are all aware of opportunities that may be available through membership of ASRA. Whether it is exchanging views or sharing best practice, when there are favourable circumstances then it could lead to exciting new challenges such as a new job or new partnerships.

Professionalism: This is about our members and the association having the qualities, expertise, competencies and skills that can ensure we are all exceptional in our roles. What this can also do is build confidence with your customers, clients, colleagues and suppliers. 

Networking: Business professionals meet to form relationships which convert to business opportunities. We are all aware that socialising for professional gain is important to encourage business contacts, schmoozing is a description that can spring to mind when networking!

Collaboration: The collaboration within ASRA is about working together to a common goal, or to achieve business benefits. This can be either in teams or individuals, and we are given these opportunities through various media, whether it is the ASRA mailbase
or regional and annual events. 

Knowledgeable: The knowledge that we have working within the HE/FE environment does not just need to be academic. As individuals we are all well informed and experienced in our fields whether it is residence life, housekeeping, health and safety or any other aspect of student accommodation. Many skills are areas we have grown up with such as empathy and understanding or having common sense!

Representation: ASRA as an organisation is representative of the student accommodation sector and work in lots of different ways. Whether it is involvement in training events, speaking at conferences or being actively involved in lobbying the government, we all have a voice.

Communication: This is the act of transferring information and ASRA has many methods by which we all communicate. We encourage members to use the mailbase to ask questions of all our members and our reach has increased hugely in recent years.

The new website has info and advice that is at the touch of a button and, of course, we have email and yes… you can pick up a phone and ask colleagues in the sector. One of our most valued modes is our regional meetings and our annual conference, which provide a networking event like no other in the student accommodation sector.

Benefits of ASRA Membership:

• Representation on boards and committees: UUK, ANUK, HEEAF, British Property Federation.

• Communication with the largest body of student accommodation professionals in the UK and Ireland.

• ASRA Annual Conference, the leading student accommodation conference in the UK and Ireland.

• Regional meetings across seven regions and five countries.

• Networking, training and support through ASRA events and media.

• Information sharing through the ASRA website including free advertising of vacancies for members.

• Professional development for student accommodation professionals.



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