Understanding UK student’s quality of life needs

Michael Flanagan
Michael Flanagan,
Estates and Facilities Director,
University of Greenwich,

The Survey reveals some useful insights about UK students and their contemporaries across the globe. The key trends it uncovers about students’ behaviour - that they are career-focused, money-conscious and studious - certainly marries with what we are seeing at the University of Greenwich.
Greenwich is a large provider of professional and vocational degrees and we have the country’s 6th highest proportion of students are from low socio-economic groups (54%). Many of our students are the first in their family to go to university. They are smart, motivated and focused on getting the most from their university experience in order to take them successfully into their working lives.
The Survey suggests that UK students aren’t as career-focused as their global counterparts. Certainly, at Greenwich, employability is a strong focus.  We feel it is vitally important to connect students to business, to help our students get graduate level jobs, and to develop communications and ‘soft skills’ by creating learning spaces that reflect the modern workplace.
In an increasingly digital age, it is encouraging to see how much importance students place on the physical campus; they want their university buildings to be attractive, to facilitate collaboration and networking and to have a friendly atmosphere. I am continually astounded by the way students learn and study today, moving fluidly between the online and offline, working with friends and their wider networks, and coming up with creative solutions. This will only become more pronounced as the next generation comes to university.
From a property perspective, our challenge is to ensure that we create collaborative and fluid spaces, for students to learn, to dwell and socialise. Given the worrying trends the Survey reveals about mental health concerns and loneliness, it’s also vital that university estates planners can help build community and support wellbeing, through access to gyms and healthy catering and retail offers, and also through easy access to pastoral and support services.
As the Survey highlights, UK students are demanding when it comes to accommodation. This isn’t surprising given the high costs, particularly for students in the Capital. At Greenwich we are focused on differentiating our offer and on ensuring we provide value. We find that students want their accommodation to foster friendships and collaborative learning through good communal space.

It is a challenging and exciting time for universities. Our students are smarter, more ambitious and more creative than ever before. As a result, we must continue to listen and to work with them to deliver flexible and forward-thinking solutions.

2018 Sodexo University Trends Report

University report cover

The demographics, needs, expectations and behaviors of university students are changing, and along with them the campus environment. We worked with the Sodexo Institute for Quality of Life and a global panel of higher-education experts to identify and understand five key trends shaping the future of the student experience, and how universities are evolving in response.

Sodexo’s 2017 Quality of Life Conference was an opportunity to explore new solutions for tomorrow’s needs. This conference brought together some 50 inspiring speakers that looked at measurable and realistic ways to make progress.