Data from the latest wave of the GSL Index (2023 Q2) in the UK & Ireland, shows that students are generally having a more positive accommodation experience. This Spring was the GSL Index’s biggest-ever Spring wave, with nearly 43,000 responses from students across 336 university halls and 821 private halls in the UK and Ireland.

Headline findings include:

  • Accommodation is playing an increasingly important role in the decision of where to study. This Spring a record 59% of students said that accommodation was ‘very important’ when choosing where they would study.
  • Student satisfaction levels now exceed pre-COVID levels and are up to 77% this Spring, from 74% last year. This increase is primarily due to university halls showing improvements across some of the factors that we know drive overall satisfaction such as condition and quality and overall management.
  • The gap between private and university halls is closing. Although private halls continue to outperform universities in key areas, university hall satisfaction increased from 70% in 2022 Q2 to 74% in 2023 Q2, while overall satisfaction with private halls increased from 76% to 77% during the same period.
  • Student wellbeing measures are up this Spring. Student wellbeing measures are always higher in Q4 than in Q2 each year, and this year is no different. However, there are some notable improvements in wellbeing measures in 2023 Q2. In particular, it is encouraging to note that the number of students saying they are seriously considering dropping out has decreased by 1%, although this figure is still higher than prior to COVID. This Spring there are also fewer students reporting feelings of stress and anxiety and depression, as well as a decrease in the number of students who say they are struggling with workload and work/life balance.
  • Cost-of-living pressures are beginning to be felt by students. The number of students struggling with budgeting and those who say they struggle with having enough money to get by has increased this Spring. There are also fewer students who say they would improve aspects of their accommodation for increased rent, and more students who are happy to keep things the same.
  • Satisfaction with value for money has increased from 57% last Spring to 62% this year, despite pressure on rents and student concerns with budgeting and getting by.
  • A higher number of students agree that there is a ‘sense of community’ in their accommodation. This figure generally drops from Autumn to Spring, however, this academic year, it is encouraging to see that this figure increased from 52% in Autumn to 53% this Spring.

New GSL Index and Operational Delta scores highlight hidden university successes.

This year GSL introduced a new global KPI for student accommodation – the Index Score (0 – 100). Based on more than a decade’s research, the Index Score is designed to provide a more broad-based KPI than overall satisfaction alone, and a more stable and fairer measure than traditional Net Promoter Scores. Together this goes some way towards providing more robust and comparable benchmarking of performance between properties and portfolios.

The Index Score is broken down into both ‘structural’ elements (building and infrastructure) and ‘operational’ elements (service). Using a regression model based on analysis of around half a million student survey responses, GSL has derived a measure to allow operating performance to be evaluated independently from the underlying condition of the building; the Operational Delta.

The Operational Delta indicates whether the operational performance is higher (+ve) or lower (-ve) than should be expected given the condition of the building(s).

Encouragingly for universities, the very first analysis of this data for 2023 Q2 shows a private sector Operational Delta of -0.7, while universities achieve an Operational Delta of +2.1. The results suggest that universities would significantly outperform their private sector counterparts given similar condition of stock.

Interested in learning more?

Global Student Living, in partnership with CUBO, released a report exploring the changing shape of student accommodation in the UK and Ireland at the CUBO Summer Conference held at the University of Glasgow from 5-7 July 2023. The report summarises recent trends in the GSL Index data and explores the ways in which the accommodation experience differs between international students and those from the UK and Ireland. In particular, the report unpacks what the GSL Index data tells us about the experience and preferences of students from the UK’s three largest sending countries: China, India and Nigeria. A copy of the report can be accessed at the CUBO website.