Policy Inquiry: Student Housing

If you could change one thing about your housing experience, what would it be?

Launching a policy inquiry

When running to be your Students’ Union President, I committed to launching a policy inquiry into student housing in order to better understand the issues students are facing in University halls, private halls, and rented accommodation in the local area. I also stated that I would work with both the University and the Students’ Union to find ways to positively improve access to support services, better facilities, and your overall housing experience while at Royal Holloway. We know halls accommodation is not always guaranteed and that finding and renting accommodation whilst at University can often be quite a stressful and difficult experience, and this is why we want to make sure that you are receiving the experience you paid for and expected.

Despite a global pandemic occurring in the meantime, we have been busy these last few months kick-starting this policy inquiry and engaging with students on their housing experiences.

The majority of students at Royal Holloway live in University halls or within the local area in private halls or rented accommodation, and it is clear that student housing has a significant influence on your overall university experience. Any changes that can be made to positively impact the housing experience for students through student insight, lobbying, and housing advice will hopefully benefit the student body and contribute to the Students’ Union’s mission to make student life better at Royal Holloway.

What are we looking at?

We are looking into a number of aspects of the housing experience at Royal Holloway, including:

  • What do students look for in on-campus accommodation?
  • Are students satisfied with their housing experience?
  • What influences student choices when it comes to housing?
  • What influences student choice to commute to university?
  • What is the current provision of the private housing market?
  • How can we improve the current on-campus accommodation experience?
  • How can we improve our Students’ Union housing advice provision?
  • The impact of COVID-19 on housing choices.

We are looking to understand the current student housing situation across the sector, and at Royal Holloway, specifically through the consideration of the above areas. In addition to students living on the Egham campus and in the surrounding area, it should be noted that we will also be looking at the experience of students studying at Royal Holloway’s London campus who are living in University of London collegiate halls.

What have we done so far?

Over 700 students have already engaged with this policy inquiry through our Rate Your Union survey which we ran in May! This means we are starting to better understand the choices students make when it comes to housing and the issues you are facing. Thank you so much to everyone who engaged as part of this survey, your views have been extremely helpful!

We have also been undertaking some external research on student housing and identifying some key national trends, as well as areas of good practice at other universities that will inform our eventual Student Voice Report.

What’s next?

We will continue to engage and consult with students around your housing experiences over the next few months, and this term we are also speaking to key stakeholders within the University staff team to better understand the current situation and provision. Keep an eye out for any future opportunities to engage with the policy inquiry!

The aim of this policy inquiry is to produce one of our Student Voice Reports, which clearly sets out the findings and draws together a number of recommendations to take forward to the University and the Students’ Union to implement. These recommendations will give us an understanding of the work that needs to be done to ultimately improve your housing experience.

If you would like to get in touch and discuss the policy inquiry further or share some of your thoughts, please drop me an email at president@su.rhul.ac.uk.