Event review: ASRA 2015

UB editor Rebecca Paddick gives her take on ASRA 2015, the largest student accommodation conference in the UK

As accommodation continues to be one of the important recruitment tools for all higher education institutions, this year’s ASRA conference offered training sessions on topics relating to social media, international experiences and sharing of best practice.

This year, more than 500 attendees arrived at the Celtic Manor Resort, in Newport, South Wales for 4-day event. 


An Olympic opener

This year’s keynote speaker was Steve Backley OBE. The former Olympic javelin athlete is now a professional speaker. During his speech, Steve recounted the accomplishments of TeamGB at the London 2012 Olympics, saying that the Games “changed expectations of what was possible in Britain”. 

He then went on to explain his experiences as a professional athlete, and the high and lows of competing under pressure at sporting events around the world.

Steve’s delivery of inspirational and practical key messages of self and team improvement paired with some amusing anecdotes from his sporting experiences, went down well with the crowd.

Back to the Future

The afternoon made way for the supplier showcases. I chose to attend the ‘Back to the Future’ seminar hosted by Campuslife’s Simon Horniblow and Tom White. The energetic duo entertained the audience with some amusing videos of what higher education might look like in 2025, and how student demands are likely to evolve.

The team emphasized the idea that technology is set to revolutionise every part of our day-to-day lives. Simon stated: “With ‘Generation Z’ ready to move onto our campuses from 2018, it’s time we got our heads round what future tech we might want to consider adopting to ensure these digital natives feel right at home.”

Other supplier showcases included a demonstration from SALTO System’s Steve Rossiter on ‘Keyless Solutions in Student Accommodation’, and ‘The Why, What and Where of WIFI,’ by Keycom’s Mick Everett.

Sharing best practice 

Tuesday was a valuable networking day, as members could share best practice during the training and development programmes. Southampton Solent University demonstrated their model of Resident Assistant support whilst Swansea University shared their experience of creating designated areas in residences. Other sessions included legal information on the latest changes in Housing Law whilst many other participated in Cultural Information Sessions. Practical sessions were also held such as Drug Awareness training and Mental Health First Aid.

This will be the last conference will Michael Ball as Chair. Commenting on this year’s event Michael said: “ASRA conference 2015 offered an exciting and informative training program covering a wide range of subjects relevant to todays Student Accommodation Market. Having delegates from both HE/FE institutions and Private provider companies all delegates and exhibitors enjoyed a very busy three days at an excellent location.’

Video courtesy of Campuslife.

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