The Importance of Convenience to the Student Experience
4 Min Read
Written by: Parcel Pending
In November 2023, Parcel Pending by Quadient and WAU Agency partnered on a CUBO roundtable to discuss the factors that affect the student experience whilst at university.
During the roundtable, Chris Cater from WAU and Camille Parsons from Parcel Pending by Quadient discussed how universities can achieve an excellent student experience in the post-Covid world, where value for money is ever more important. They looked at brand new data and research to highlight what is most important to students and suggest exactly where accommodation teams should focus their energy – and where not to. To watch the full roundtable click here.
WAU are a Sales and Marketing agency and consultancy that specialises in the Higher Education and Real Estate sectors. They started an accreditation scheme called Investor In Students (IIS) to help universities understand how the experience of students in their accommodation impacts their overall time at university.
So, what did we learn from this event?
The student accommodation experience matters
There is no doubt that the student experience whilst in accommodation matters. It’s exactly why IIS exists. WAU created it to support staff in delivering for students, enabling students to thrive and to minimise institutional risk along the way.
If a student is having a horrid time on their chosen course, they may stick at the same university and just switch to a new course. But if they are having a horrid time at their accommodation, they may drop-out of that university completely. The accommodation is such an all-encompassing part of the experience.
Risks of poor student accommodation experience include:
- The mental health of staff and students
- Impact on university reputation and ranking (NSS etc.)
- Increased drop-out rates, and the financial repercussions
- Loss of community and sense of belonging
What aspects of the experience do students care about?
Of course, decent working facilities are important, but the support from staff consistently shows up as something that students hold in high regard. Having friendly staff available to give a helping hand with amenities or to guide you in the right direction of available student services is invaluable and can transform the experience completely.
Of 10 of the most influential questions from WAU’s survey which measure a student’s experience, 8 of them were about staff. (Access the recording here to learn what these were).
According to the survey, results show that well-informed, empowered, motivated and trusted staff teams are key to allowing students to thrive during their time at university.
Value for Money
Does price = value? Apparently not. According to research, price and value do not directly correlate and there are positive perceptions of value for money across all price points of student accommodation.
To really deliver an excellent value for money, you must go beyond the expectations of your price point. However, before you think about going beyond, you need to be realistic with your offering and make sure you are nailing the basics. A student is not likely to say they are receiving good value for money if they are having a bad experience with simple day-to-day amenities.
Of all the ‘value for money’ ratings, systems and processes consistently rated higher than other categories that were compared across all price points. (Other categories include experience, staff, facilities, and community – watch the full clip to learn more about these categories).
Internet is the new utility. Excellent internet connection isn’t a bonus, it’s a requirement and this stretches into all areas of the experience. This is as important as running water and heating to students. Excellent apps and technology, 24/7 service availability and beyond. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need someone to sit at a desk all hours of the day and night, but you do need access to services which can be achieved through technology that allows students to self-serve or submit requests out of office hours. Having this also takes the onus off staff during working hours too, as if students can self-serve, staff no longer need to waste time on the menial tasks and can focus on those big important parts of their role that transform the student experience.
In today’s world, the process of receiving parcels has become a crucial part of student accommodation. However, with the increasing number of parcels, it has become challenging for staff to manage the parcels effectively. Many students have raised concerns about the parcel processes on their campus, including the limited access to parcels due to restricted reception hours or locked reception areas.
“On-site staff often finishing early – unable to collect parcels”
“Refusal of deliveries on weekends. Constantly locked reception.”
“I understand the receptionist receives tons of parcels every day for all of the residents. There were two times when my parcels were not able to be found at the reception.”
The statistics show that the number of parcels delivered globally is increasing rapidly, and the UK alone has seen a significant increase in the number of deliveries. With an estimated 5.1 billion parcels delivered in the UK in 2022, managing parcels has become a challenge for staff in student accommodation. It is estimated that it takes four minutes to manage a parcel, and with thousands of parcels being delivered daily, this can add up to several hours of staff time spent managing parcels.
Additionally, parcel theft is a growing concern, with over 16,000 reports of stolen parcels to the police in the UK last year alone. This means that staff not only have to manage the parcels but also ensure their safe delivery to students. With the increasing number of parcels being delivered, it is becoming difficult for staff to provide the level of service students expect. This can impact the overall student experience, as staff are not able to focus on other important aspects of student accommodation.
To watch the full roundtable, submit your details below