After a successful trial in the UK, GSA will introduce the nine-pillar framework offering residents schedules designed to offer a “broad variety” of locally relevant activities. Residential assistants will organise an average of between four and eight activities per month.
“Poor mental health is one of the biggest threats to the successful completion of Higher Education”
“Poor mental health is one of the biggest threats to the successful completion of Higher Education,” Tim Daplyn, managing director of Red Brick Research said.
“Students who are unhappy with their accommodation are ten times more likely to be unhappy with their whole university experience.”
Launched in June 2018, the Student Wellbeing Matters. Exploring on and off campus student wellbeing in the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain and Australia report sought to clarify the role of accommodation in students’ wellbeing and find practical strategies to improve it.
It also made several important recommendations including further collaboration and research to support improvements in the wellbeing of students, Daplyn added.
Following a successful trial in the UK, the Wellbeing Framework will be rolled out to GSA’s three brands: Uninest Student Residences, The Student Housing Company and Nexo Residencias.
It will support students in 34 cities across eight countries, who have spent a combined 4.3 million nights so far living in with the company, Bobbi Hartshorne, GSA’s global head of Student Wellbeing noted.
Countries with an immature purpose built student accommodation market have the opportunity to consider the wellbeing of residents as they build new student housing, she told The PIE News earlier this year.
“Spain and Germany are very immature PBSA markets. Germany’s universities tend to have a much lower level of pastoral care than we might see in the UK and Australia.
“[Those young markets] have an opportunity because their stuff will be quite new. All of their stock should be thinking about wellbeing as a factor. That is a luxury that we don’t have in the UK.”
In the UK, Hartshorne relayed that it hard been challenging to engage its Chinese student community into GSA’s wellbeing program.
“It doesn’t seem to resonate,” she said. “One of the biggest things that stops them engaging in community events is their fear that they are going to look foolish.”
“We are advocating reducing the number of studios”
Therefore, GSA introduced Chinese only events, which led on to bilingual events, and language cafes and programs.
Studio apartments present interesting challenges with community building, Hartshorne added, and activities such as those offered in the Wellbeing Framework can combat isolation.
“We are advocating reducing the number of studios. Half the beauty of living in a property that has been designed for students is that there is loads of activity.”
Students in studios don’t necessarily get to be part of the camaraderie and the community spirit in each of the flats, Hartshorne explained.
“[We should] make sure that we are not only building good buildings but we are also thinking about what the service standard and the care package looks like.”
Nicholas Porter, chairman of GSA said its residents has a keen eye for fairness and value for money
“We don’t want to see this generation continuing the struggle with mental health,” Porter said.
“GSA’s mission is to make a real difference to students’ lives and we are asking to collaborate with universities to break down silos and better integrate mental health provision for students, both on and off campus.”