Overall management is a key driver of overall student satisfaction and is the number one factor influencing student perceptions around value for money. In fact, when it comes to assessing value for money, overall management is so important for students, that it has an even bigger influence than satisfaction with their bedroom, the condition and quality of their accommodation, laundry (a top bugbear for students) and kitchen size.
This is a significant shift from the early days of the Global Student Living (GSL) Index when physical features of accommodation had the biggest influence on student satisfaction and more recent years when it was the overall student experience that mattered most.
And yet, student satisfaction with overall management has hovered fairly steadily at 76%-77% since 2018, apart from a slight dip during the pandemic. While students in private halls are slightly more satisfied with overall management than those in university halls, private hall satisfaction with overall management dropped from 79% to 77% this Spring. This may be confirmation that higher rents come with increasingly higher expectations, particularly in times of increased financial pressure. During the same period, university hall satisfaction with overall management increased from 71% to 75%.
Understanding the factors that drive satisfaction with overall management and working to increase student satisfaction in these areas will be key to improving overall satisfaction levels:
- Responsiveness – for the past few years there has been a consistent pattern of lower levels of satisfaction with responsiveness in the Autumn wave of the GSL Index, with satisfaction increasing by Spring. This Spring 75% of students rated staff responsiveness as good or very good – up from 67% last Autumn. This highlights the importance of focussing on a smooth moving-in experience and working to resolve issues as quickly as possible.
- Staff Knowledge – students rate staff knowledge better than most other aspects of overall management, with 81% of students saying that staff knowledge was good or very good this Spring.
- Ease of reporting issues to management – there has been very little shift in this score over the past five years, with an average of 76% of students rating the ease of reporting issues to management as good or very good. It should be noted that free text responses from students frequently describe reporting processes as ‘bureaucratic’ and suggest that at times students have had to report issues multiple times which leads to frustration.
- Maintenance – again we traditionally see lower scores for maintenance in Autumn than in Spring, and this past academic year was no different, although the gap between Autumn and Spring scores was the biggest yet. Last Autumn, 59% of students rated maintenance as good or very good – this climbed to 71% in Spring. Free text responses again highlight frustrations with reporting faults and waiting times. Although private halls generally perform better when it comes to maintenance, encouragingly this year in Q2 we saw university hall satisfaction with maintenance increase to 69% from 64% last Spring.
- Staff friendliness is the area where students are most satisfied and where there is less fluctuation in scores between Autumn and Spring. Last Autumn 83% of students were satisfied with staff friendliness, and 84% this Spring.
It is clear that students have high expectations and increasingly view their accommodation through a consumer lens. For accommodation operators, setting service standards for maintenance and monitoring performance and student satisfaction will be key.
Global Student Living Index data shows gthat key international student cohorts prioritise individual aspects of the overall management experience differently. These issues are discussed in more detail in the GSL/CUBO report Future Proof: meeting the diverse needs of international students, available to download via the CUBO website.