What do postgraduates want from their student accommodation?
At the start of 2021, Unite Students’ new strategy team went on a mission: to better understand our customers, what they needed, and how we could meet those needs. Part of this was exploring different segments within the student population and how their journeys differed – including postgraduate students, of whom there are currently 600,000 studying in the UK alone.
Our research highlighted that, unsurprisingly, postgraduate students didn’t have the same needs as first-year students when it came to socialising and support for independent living. As a group, they’re as much young professionals as students, experienced in independent living and preferring to be left to it, with tailored services to make day-to-day life easier. They valued privacy, quiet, freedom and independence, and needed more dedicated study space – but also clearly defined spaces to relax and socialise with their peers.
It was clear that we could do more to facilitate postgraduates’ specific needs, making their postgraduate experience that bit easier. So, from September onwards, we’re trialling our ‘perfect for postgrads’ offer: properties aimed at meeting the particular needs of postgraduates.
This scheme has three different tiers, depending on the needs of the individual. Postgraduate Living buildings are broadly similar to our other properties, but are specifically marketed to postgraduate students on our website in order to create a like-minded community. This tier is currently being trialled at Magnet Court in Newcastle and Wellington Lodge in London.
The Postgraduate Prime offer - The Priory in Leeds and two properties in London: Elizabeth Croll House and Rahere Court - is more specialised. The serviced apartments in these properties offer access to paid laundry services and regular cleaning, a secure parcel delivery service, and events led by the postgraduates themselves to create a community that works for them.
The final tier is Postgraduate Plus, to be implemented at the Tramworks in Glasgow and Athena Studios in Birmingham. The services on offer in our Postgraduate Plus buildings take all the stresses out of everyday living for postgraduate students, allowing them to focus on both their studies and leisure time. Amenities include door-to-door parcel deliveries, grab-and-go weekday breakfasts, taxi deals, access to gym facilities, and plenty of study spaces with coffee on tap. That’s in addition to resident committees for organising suitable community events.
Throughout the year, we’ll be taking qualitative and quantitative feedback from the students living in these properties so that we can assess what’s working, what isn’t, and what can be tweaked to better meet postgraduates’ needs. A key theme across our strategy work has been the importance of tailoring the service in our properties to meet the needs of the specific make-up of students living in it, and that adaptability will be a crucial pillar for this trial.
Our mission - Home for Success - is about creating communities that allow all students to thrive, and we’re working to ensure each individual property meets the needs of the particular student body under its roof. Postgraduate students are innovators, driving forwards advancements in science, technology and elsewhere – so if we can empower them to build communities that meet their specific needs, we’ll be smoothing a path for success that benefits us all.