Date published: 16 June 2021
This Student Voice Report examines the current student housing situation at Royal Holloway in the University halls of residence as well as private rental properties in the surrounding area. Our Policy Inquiry into this area of the student experience began in May 2020, and our research and engagement with students, University stakeholders, local landlords and estate agents shaped the recommendations included in this report.
The Students’ Union is aware that some of these recommendations require a significant amount of change within some of the University’s professional service departments, or they are unable to come into effect until the new Halls of Residence, Rusham Park, has been fully developed. As a result, some of these recommendations will occur over an extended period of time.
It is also important to note that the Students’ Union understands there are added limitations to what recommendations we can reasonably make in the private sector, however, we believe the recommendations we have made in this area will have a positive impact on current and prospective students’ housing experience in the private sector.
Below is a summary of the recommendations from the report.
1.1 The University should review the way its professional service teams involved with University halls of residence manage student enquiries about accommodation and consider how they can have a more coordinated and streamlined accommodation response through a Student Enquiry Management system.
1.2 The University should collate all halls information in a single place on both the University website and Royal Holloway App with a view to moving all information to the Royal Holloway App when it has more widespread use by students.
1.3 The University should be more transparent about the financial distribution of University halls fees, and this information should be signposted clearly on the Accommodation webpage.
1.4 The University should consider including more visual material about University halls to make the Accommodation webpage more engaging and informative for prospective and current students when applying for a halls place.
1.5 The University should trial the introduction of lifestyle flats for the following categories: alcohol free, single-sex, LGBTQ+, and quiet halls.
1.6 The University should consider including a set number of flexible room bookings in University halls of residence.
1.7 The University should consider reviewing the price bands of self-catered rooms in older halls of residence.
1.8 The University should review its current policy around out-of-hours and crisis support to determine whether it is fit for purpose and prioritises students’ wellbeing for students who live both on- and off-campus.
1.9 The University Hall Life team should continue to work closely with the Students’ Union Advice Centre and circulate information in their newsletters and on the Royal Holloway App about the Students’ Union HouseMating service.
2.1 The University should review the current software used for halls applications and decide whether it is fit for purpose. If it is decided that a change in software needs to occur, the University should additionally review its allocation process.
2.2 The University should consider streamlining the application process by reducing the number of halls students rank, and by changing the way room options are labelled in the application.
3.1 Working in collaboration, the University and Students’ Union should undertake a general review focusing on security and safety on campus.
3.2 The University should make sure information about reporting harassment and assault is clearly signposted on the University website so students fully understand the options and support available to them.
3.3 The University should conduct a review to better understand the harassment of women in halls, implementing changes to processes and/or procedures where appropriate.
3.4 The University should introduce a policy which states that broken locks on halls’ exterior and interior doors will be resolved in a 24 hour period. In instances where this is not possible, an alternative solution needs to be in place.
3.5 The University should work with students to conduct a review of the current guest policy, including its purpose and effectiveness.
4.1 The University should discuss with the service provider whether integration of SMART technology is possible in a set number of flats, or all flats at Rusham Park.
5.1 The Students’ Union should give the Housing Rights blog series a more permanent place on the Students’ Union webpage and ensure it is easily accessible for students to find.
5.2 The Students’ Union Advice Centre should consider recording three short videos explaining in brief the services offered at the Advice Centre for each stage of the student private housing lifecycle: Looking, Living and Leaving.
5.3 The Students’ Union should have regular reviews of their communications plan around housing blogs and articles which are sent out to students, agents and landlords to ensure messaging is clear, appropriate and up-to-date.
5.4 The Students’ Union should continue to investigate ways to have a successful working relationship with landlords and estate agents in the local area.
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