What best illustrates the excellent student experience you are offering?
Village Life – our Residential Life programme. It’s our innovative approach to enhancing the student experience and it’s at the very core of the business that we’ve been delivering globally since Campus Living Villages was established in Australia in 2003.
Our ‘Live, Learn and Grow’ programme supports our residents as they meet people, make new friends, learn new things and just have fun –all for free. Our approach is not to run events for ‘events sake’ but ensure our Village teams are aware of the pressures placed upon today’s cohort of students. So we’ve tailored our Village Life programme to support their changing needs at key points throughout the academic year.
We’re ready for our ‘Settling In’ calendar of events which will see residents across our villages benefit with everything from cookery demos, to city-wide treasure hunts, to international karaoke all aimed at fostering community, increasing engagement and improving wellbeing. Last year we offered 120 events and activities during the first six weeks and this year we’ve amped things up following positive feedback – we will double this with close to around 240 opportunities over the first six weeks.
How would you sum up the best ‘student experience’?
Accommodation for us is only one slice of the ‘student experience’ pie, albeit an important one as its usually the first time our residents have moved away from home. This is a huge responsibility to make a great experience in.
We feel the best student experience is delivered by embracing a philosophy of providing more than a roof and a bed – we see ourselves as creating memories, providing a home and a community for our residents to live, learn and grow.
For us, the best memories and experience are delivered by understanding that students have complex needs, expectations and aspirations and a one size fits all approach doesn’t work. Tailoring our programmes to the individual village personality, staff and resident feedback is key. However, all the key elements of this are around an environment designed to nurture their academic success and personal growth, make new friends, take on new challenges and learning how to excel in their studies.
Are we doing enough to ensure that international students have the best possible experience? Are the potential effects of Brexit for our European students any clearer now?
Over a third of our residents are international so we have to ensure this is an amazing and memorable experience. It’s also such a competitive market for our partner Universities to attract international students that we have to help this in any way we can and our programmes all cater to this.
Campus Living Villages is a global company that operates in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and USA – and we believe that by drawing on our international expertise, learning from other countries and working hard with our peers and partners here in the UK, we can continue to provide welcoming homes for students all across Europe and around the world.
The ultimate effects of Brexit aren’t really any clearer for EU students and won’t be until government immigration policy reveals how visa restrictions and student number controls will work. However, they have clearly been negative to date given evidence of reduced EU enrolments and wider BREXIT concerns throughout the University community.
Everyone involved has to be fleet of foot to a maturing sector and an ever-changing world.
Richard Gabelich is CEO of Campus Living Villages UK.