With regional meetings on the horizon, let’s have a look at what some of the Association for Student Residential Accommodation (ASRA) regions have been up to this year.
South East Region
Lisette Metcalfe, ASRA South East Rep and Student Housing Services Manager for Middlesex University
The South East has had two regional meetings so far this academic year, the first at Regents University on 18 November in the lovely location at the centre of Regents Park in London. Thanks to Lee Fellows for hosting. We had 19 member institutions and organisations present. We discussed the September 2016 intake and all discussed how wellbeing is still a big issue, particularly in terms of providing an out of hours service.
We had very interesting presentations from Lee Fellows on Regents welfare provision and Alan Hilton from Cass and Claredale on designing the student experience. On 10 March, we held our second meeting at University of Kent in Canterbury, with thanks to Derek Goss for hosting the meeting. We had attendees from 14 member institution organisations. Discussions were held on cancellation policies, housing fairs and guarantor schemes which was really useful. During the day we were able to see some of Kent’s extensive portfolio of halls accommodation. We also had talks from Derek Goss on Kent’s accommodation provision, an insightful talk and quiz from Unite on their newest Resilience survey results and an interesting presentation from Billy Smith from David Phillips (furniture providers).
Rebecca O’Hare, ASRA Northern Rep and Resident Life Manager for Campus Living Villages
The next Northern meeting is scheduled for May 17 in Sheffield and as always promises to deliver a wide range of subject matter for learning and discussions. The last Northern regional meeting was held on November 21, 2016 at the University of Salford. As always, there was a strong attendance on the day. We had three varied presentations with four speakers presenting including: Paul Burns, University of Manchester, on the importance of trust and understanding the customer’s subjective needs; Alex Mayes, Campus Living Villages, on seeking cultural superheroes: how to find the talent that fits your organisation based on personal values and not experience; Trudie Speed and Greg Pevy, University of Sheffield, professional development in residence life: MA student affairs in higher education (ARU).
As always, our meetings are well supported in attendance by eager ASRA members keen to learn as much as possible in order to improve many aspects of their role or business and, of course, to share best practice with other members.
Tom Bates, ASRA Wales Rep and Head of Campus Life for Aberystwyth University
To facilitate the sharing of best practice, the Welsh ASRA members have met twice since the last conference – Bangor University and Cardiff Metropolitan University in June and November 2016 respectively.
The trip to Bangor was the first for almost 10 years, and saw previous ASRA Chair Mike Ball showcase the soon-to-be-launched Universities UK Code of Practice online training module, and a tour around the impressive St Mary’s Hall.
A record high attendance descended on Cardiff for a day of learning and general brain-picking! The group started the day reviewing the UNITE Student Insight Report, which focuses on Student Resilience and all things non academic. The group were then able to enjoy a taster session from the impressive Melanie Loizou, Director of Fish Climb Trees who specialises in working with organisations to help them understand their DNA.
The day finished with a tour around Cyncoed Campus, a great example of community living.