Author: Unite Students
Time spent living in student accommodation
is important and memorable. It is a place to make friends, to study, to develop an adult identity and to learn how to live independently.
At its best, it is a community of students that offers a sense of safety, comfort and belonging. Each of these have been linked to improved academic achievement, retention and mental health. What happens in student accommodation really matters.
Our research programme has touched on these themes in the past. In 2017 we found that non-White students felt less integrated in their accommodation than White students, and in response we worked to diversify our events programme. In 2019 we found that non-White students on average considered themselves less successful than their White peers.
But it was events in 2020 that really brought to the fore the racism that Black people face in day-to-day life, not just through isolated incidents but in a systemic way. In May that year, I sat trying to make sense of the video footage of US police brutally restraining and ultimately murdering George Floyd. Having already set out on a refreshed approach to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, this incident and the subsequent resurgence
of the Black Lives Matter movement prompted us to commission this research that specifically looked at the experience of Black students. We especially wanted to listen to Black students talk about their experiences in accommodation in their own words, and this has been a central feature of the research which covers students in a wide range of purpose-built student accommodation.
This report makes very uncomfortable reading at times, but that makes it even more vital that everyone providing student accommodation commits to action.
Download the full report below: