Following last year’s successful CUBO and GSL research collaboration, which explored the experience of international students in student accommodation, CUBO and GSL have again joined forces to examine the accommodation experience of some of the most vulnerable student cohorts. This year’s CUBO/GSL collaborative report, Closing the Gap: the experience of vulnerable students in student accommodation, takes a deep dive into the Global Student Living Index (GSL Index) data to understand the challenges faced by students with a disability, students who are neurodivergent, students from an ethnic minority and those who identify as LGBQTI+ in student accommodation.

Key findings include:

  • In general, students from our vulnerable cohorts are happy with their accommodation. However, the overall accommodation experience of our vulnerable cohorts is less positive than it is for their peers. Students from these cohorts are less satisfied and more likely to struggle across a broader range of areas, with students with a disability (particularly international students with a disability) and students who are neurodivergent having a particularly difficult time.
  • While overall satisfaction for students with a disability and those without has increased slightly since 2016, the gap in satisfaction levels between students with a disability and those without has consistently remained at 7%-8% over this period (Figure 9). In other words, there is no evidence of any specific improvement for students with a disability despite increased guidance on how to better support this cohort.
  • With the exception of students from an ethnic minority, all of our focus cohorts are less likely to report that their accommodation has had a positive impact on their wellbeing and more likely than their peers to report a negative impact (Figure 10). Students with a disability and students who are neurodivergent fare the worst, with some choosing to move back home or to alternative accommodation (often at additional expense) as a result.
  • Students across all our vulnerable cohorts are faring worse socially than their peers, although social struggles are more pronounced for some cohorts than others. Each of our vulnerable cohorts is less likely than their peers to say they have formed close friendships in their accommodation or to report that they feel a strong sense of community. They are also more likely to say they struggle with meeting new people, relationships, loneliness and getting on with those in their accommodation. The one exception is students from an ethnic minority, who are no more likely to say they struggle with loneliness or getting on with others in their accommodation.

The report explores room allocation practices, maintenance procedures, and operational communications and the improvements that can be made in these areas to address many of the issues raised in the report.

Interested in learning more?

Read the full report here.

About the GSL Index

The GSL Index is the world’s leading student insight platform and performance improvement tool for both university and private student accommodation providers. Throughout the year, the GSL Index surveys hundreds of thousands of students across 15 countries and in 15 different languages, on all aspects of their student accommodation experience. 

The Index brings together a range of standardised local, regional and global KPIs alongside bespoke insights from custom questions developed to meet the specific needs of accommodation providers.  With responses from over one million students since its inception, and more than 250 million data points, data from the GSL Index provides rich insight into what students expect from their accommodation and the factors that drive student satisfaction.

To get involved in The Index, head to the GSL website: to register.