How you can support our Black student experience research

02 Jun 2021
By Jennifer Steadman, Higher Education Communications Executive at Unite Students
We recently announced that we have commissioned a crucial report titled ‘Living Black at University’ - and your organisation can be a part of it. Read on to learn more about the research and how to get involved.

What’s the research about, and why was it commissioned?

‘Living Black at University’ will examine the experiences of Black students and staff within university halls and private purpose built student accommodation, and generate practical recommendations for the Higher Education and PBSA sectors in responding to the findings. 

Unite Students had undertaken preliminary research into community and inclusion at university prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, and identified issues around race as an important part of this conversation. The murder of George Floyd, and subsequent Black Lives Matter protests in summer 2020, only heightened our resolve to better understand these issues within student accommodation and how to respond to them. In March 2021, we appointed Halpin Partnership to undertake the research, led by a Black research team.

For more information on why the research was commissioned, see Jenny Shaw’s recent blog post, ‘Does student accommodation meet the needs of Black students?’.


What does the research involve?

The research will include:

  • A survey for students of all ethnicities about their university experience
  • A survey for staff of all ethnicities about their experience of working within Higher Education
  • Discussion groups with students
  • Interviews with students and staff

Students and staff of all ethnicities are being interviewed in order to allow Halpin to compare data sets and contextualise the responses of Black students and staff compared to those of other ethnicities. Our research partners Halpin have defined ‘Black’ as including all those who are racialised as Black. 

More information on this is available from the project website, under ‘What is the definition of Black in this research?’.


How can my university get involved?

You can disseminate the surveys with your staff and students at your organisation: the student survey is available here and the staff survey is available here. Please highlight to students that filling in the survey automatically enters them into a prize draw for a £500 gift voucher, and focus group participants will receive a £25 gift card.

You can also email Halpin Partnership directly about how to be involved, at


When is the research taking place?

The staff and student surveys are currently open, and will close next week (beginning 7th June) - so don’t delay! Student discussion groups, and interviews with students and staff, will continue into June. The final report will be launched in the autumn.


This research is vitally important to better understanding and responding to the needs of Black students and staff within Higher Education - something that can be improved in every student accommodation setting. Your university’s participation is valuable not only to Unite Students, but most importantly to Black students and employees across the UK.

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Jen Steadman (she/her) is a Higher Education Communications Executive at Unite Students. Prior to this, she was the inaugural Editor of GSL News, covering the student experience for the higher education sector.