Aerial view of University of Leeds campus

Amazing effort from Residential Services to help stranded students

At the end of January an inspection by the fire service resulted in the private, non-University affiliated residence Eldon Court being closed at short notice. This left students from several universities including 170 University of Leeds students suddenly displayed from their accommodation. Thanks to the hard work and tireless efforts from staff across Residential Services, the University was able to respond quickly and efficiently to help support these students in their time of need.   

What happened

On 24 January staff were notified that Eldon Court was closing with immediate effect. They got to work straight away to find solutions. Team members in the Accommodation Office and site staff co-ordinated to confirm which rooms were ready for students to move into. Other colleagues and Security Services attended Eldon Court to provide reassurance to distressed students. They then redirected them to the Refectory whilst their emergency accommodation was arranged.  

Our response to help students

The team handled calls, emails and in person meetings with displaced residents to provide emergency accommodation within hours of them having to leave Eldon Court. At the same time they continued to provide a high-quality service for our existing residents in halls. Before the offer of free emergency accommodation came to an end, many of these students chose to stay in our halls for the rest of the academic year.  

End results

The dedication, hard work and perseverance of the Residential Services team provided 173 students with emergency accommodation. The Accommodation Office subsequently offered 159 residents permanent accommodation. Of these, 76 students from Eldon Court are still living with us in halls.  

The Eldon Court incident perfectly demonstrated the amazing things that Residential Services can do when we are all working together, towards the same goal.

Colleagues within the Accommodation Office worked tirelessly to provide invaluable and time sensitive support to help students displaced during an incredibly stressful and disruptive event. I am extremely proud of how they worked to support residents and each other, in the delivery of this service. The success of their teamwork can be seen in the number of residents that we were able to support and the level of service that we continued to provide as standard.

It’s really important to highlight that we wouldn’t have been able to deliver the service that we did without the tremendous effort of colleagues, including site staff at University residences and those that we are partnered with, as well as Security Services.

The level of responsiveness and communication that we received from these colleagues was integral to the service that we were able to provide, and I’d like to thank them for being the face of Residential Services throughout this period.

Chantelle Aleksander, Accommodation Office Manager

Students playing air hocking in Montague Burton

Success for Residential Services in student experience survey

Residential Services are this year taking part in the Investor in Students survey. This student experience survey is run by student accommodation experts the WAU agency over two rounds of insight. It aims to give a 360 view of the experience of living in student accommodation. This is done by measuring the sentiment of students living in halls, the staff who work in them and the senior management who run them.  

There are currently 16 organisations participating in the survey. This includes other universities such as the University of Birmingham and the University of Sheffield. It also includes purpose built student accommodation (PBSA) providers like Homes for Students.  

First round – student experience survey

The first short survey to students in our accommodation saw a strong response rate of 28% in autumn 2022. The results were largely extremely positive. There were particularly strong scores for the check-in process and the cleanliness and condition of our accommodation when students arrived.  

For both of these questions we scored the highest out of all organisations surveyed. Clearly a testament to the fantastic effort and hard work put in by staff over the summer months! This ensures that students not only have a great first experience of their accommodation, but that their welcome to the University as a whole is positive.  

Second round – including staff in survey

The second round of the survey will be out in late April 2023. This time we will also be asking our staff for their impression of the student experience at the University. This helps to identify where we are succeeding and potentially what is holding us back if we don’t perform as highly in some areas.  

Gathering staff insight on the student experience as part of a formal survey is a new approach for Residential Services. Because of this the senior management team will be engaging closely with site staff to help explain what we’re trying to achieve by taking part in the survey. It represents a fantastic chance for our most knowledgeable resource, our staff, to help contribute their expertise.

Undertaking the student experience survey with the WAU Agency has provided us with the opportunity to uniquely benchmark many areas of our operation with some of our biggest competitors.

To be sector leading in a number of areas is a testament to the hard work of many teams, particularly those in student facing roles in our halls and within our Residence Life team. We’re excited to utilise the data gathered in order to set some achievable objectives so that we can continue to improve the experience of living in halls and help students feel part of a caring community.

Rebecca O’Hare, Assistant Director (Residence Life & Accommodation Office), Residential Services