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This research analyses accomodation issues facing students at Bedfordshire University. It also looks into different accommodation options, such as Hall of Residence, private accommodation and staying at home. These options are analyzed based on the competitive cost advantages they offer students. For students staying in the Halls of Residents, analysis is done to establish whether they actually get the best service for their money. The research methodology involves interviewing 25 students using questionnaires which they are expected to fill in. The collected data is then analyzed and presented in the form of pie charts to show students’ level of satisfaction and possible problems they face.

Keywords: Liberty Living; Hall of Residents; Private Accommodation, Home Resident and the Value of the Service.

Introduction

University accommodation is available in the form of Liberty Living, University Halls and private rented accommodation. These options are available to students opting to stay at home or international students who might not have relatives living around the campus area. This research, therefore, analyses the cost advantages these different accommodation options create for students, and how they contribute, either positively or negatively, to their academic and social-economic performance at the college. Extra amenities, such as the Internet, entertainment and Hall management systems, can improve the life of students, as they stay in Halls of Residents (Accommodation Campaign, 2012, p.1).

BedfordshireUniversity was founded in 2006 after a merger between De Montfort University’s Bedford campus and the University of Luton (“Bedfordshire University Student Accommodation Bedford Campus Nido Student Living” 2012, p.2). BedfordCollege was established as a teacher training college in 1882, while Luton Modern School and Technical Institute was founded in 1902 (Bedfordshire University Student Accommodation Bedford Campus Nido Student Living, 2012, p.2).

Located on the two main campuses of Luton and Bedford, the college’s four faculties include: Technology and Science, Creative Arts, Health and Social Sciences, School of Business and Education, Sport and Tourism (“StudentVillage” 2012, p.1). The location affords a quick and easy access to LondonLutonAirport. Based on the number of accepted applicants in 2010, the university’s student population stands at 3,828. The population of the university consists of individuals from more than 100 different countries of the world. The university’s graduates enjoy an employment rate of 90 percent, as per the survey of the Higher Education on the Destination of Leavers carried out in 2010.

Accommodation at the University

Each new student is provided with accommodation, and when the demand surpasses the limit that the university can accommodate, students are advised to take up their abode in privately shared houses.  The college has nine Halls of Residence on Luton Campus alone, which are located within walking distance from one another. A new state-of-the-art Fitzroy suite is expected to provide accommodation for the first year students shortly. Bedford Campus has Liberty Living Complex hosting up to 500 suites and being well-managed by the university. The average cost of accommodation on Luton Campus ranges between 97 Euros to 139 Euros, while the rate of accommodation on Bedford Campus is between 87 Euros to 110 Euros. The rent charges are payable in three installments but a discount is available for those who pay all at once. The living expenses of students also range between 100 Euros to 120 Euros per week, which approximates 4500 Euros per year (Bedfordshire University Student Accommodation Bedford Campus Nido Student Living, 2012, p.2).

Liberty Living

The complex is located on the LibertyPark site of Bedford Campus. It manages a new block worth 20 million Euros, which houses 430 suites, study bedrooms and buildings for students with disabilities. It provides students with a comfortable and strictly secure environ located in the immediate vicinity of the town, thriving social-cultural scene, well-managed amenities and excellent transportation options.

A typical Liberty Living suite for undergraduates includes: en-suite shower, toilet, bedroom, washing basin, shared kitchen and living room area and a self-catering option. It also provides other facilities, such as self-contained studios, single study rooms, 24-hour CCTV security surveillance, on-site laundry and gym, free Internet, cleaned communal areas and mixed-sex flats (Bedfordshire University Student Accommodation Bedford Campus

Nido Student Living, 2012, p.2).

University Halls

These are available on both Luton and Bedford campuses. These university-managed Halls also provide en-suite rooms, which have shared living rooms and a kitchen. Each flat is capable of housing 9 to 16 students, while a serene communal area offers a perfect place for catching up with friends and enjoying the student life to the fullest.

A typical university Hall suite consists of the following: an undergraduate suite, en-suite or shared kitchen, shared living rooms, and self-catered. There are also other facilities, such as free Internet access, communal on-site laundry facilities, mixed-sex flats, and 24-hours security CCTV surveillance (The PALS Service, 2010, p.2).

Private Rented Accommodation

The university works together with the private sector to provide students lacking rooms in the halls of residents and Liberty Living complex with reasonably priced accommodation that is usually in the vicinity of the college. A list of the flats and houses is available upon request at the student accommodation office information desk throughout the year. Also, house hunting information packs can also be accessed on request (Accommodation Campaign, 2012, p.2).

Methodology

Research methodology used to successfully investigate the accommodation options at BedfordshireUniversity involves designing a questionnaire with ten questions touching on all the three accommodation options (Private Rented, University Halls and Liberty Living) that available at BedfordshireUniversity. The questionnaire provides students with an option to rate the various available services according to the following parameters: cleanliness, security level, bedding & furniture, duration of free Internet access and general accommodation condition.

The quantitative research approach was used to test the degree of accuracy, with the research plan being influenced by the main objective of the research, which is: to evaluate and conduct comparative research; to test a hypothesis; to conduct a descriptive study (Bedfordshire University Student Accommodation Bedford Campus Nido Student Living, 2012, p.2).

Quantitative research consists in expressing of data in numbers, which includes such common research designs as: design of descriptive research, design of experimental research and design of exploratory research.

The objective of the research study was to investigate the accommodation at BedfordshireUniversity. In order to achieve this research objective, the following was to be done: evaluate the current status and conditions of accommodation options available to students; evaluate the current shortage of accommodation; develop a strategy that can be applied by the university foe solving accommodation problems, if there are any; suggest recommendations on how to improve communication between students and stakeholders in terms of accommodation (Accommodation Campaign, 2012, p.2).

Data collection was done using questionnaires, which is a form of primary data collection. This form of data collection is unique to one’s particular research, and until one publishes one’s work no one else can access this particular data. Other methods of primary data collection include structured interviews, group discussion focusing on a particular topic, non-participant observations and use of case studies. The questionnaires were administered to 25 students who gave their opinions on the highlighted issues (The PALS Service, 2010, p.1).

The data were then analyzed by using the excel function to carry out statistical analysis of the issues highlighted in the questionnaires. The three accommodation options were comparatively analyzed and the best one was chosen.

A closed questionnaire with ten question touching on such aspects as halls students prefer to live in, security level, cleanliness level, Internet access uptime, promptness in emergency response during accidents and incidences, status of study rooms, status of communal site and closeness to lecture halls” (Accommodation Campaign, 2012, p.2). The questionnaires also sought to get the opinion of students on which of the three options, if fully implemented by the university, will be of great help to them.

The first column of the table represents the categories of questions, such as current accommodation, security level, cleanliness level, free Internet access, availability of rapid and efficient emergency response systems, vicinity to town, spaciousness of study rooms, affordability to students, socializing options and a strategy to be applied to accommodate students (Accommodation Campaign, 2012, p.1).

Tabulation Summary of the Report

Question  Category

Private rented

University Hall

Liberty Living

Living

5

11

9

Security

7

8

11

Cleanliness

12

3

10

Internet Access

4

6

15

Emergency Response

17

3

5

Closeness to town

2

3

20

Study Room

13

8

4

Cost

1

5

19

Communal site

14

7

4

Best option to adopt

2

10

13

Statistical Data Representation and Analysis

Living Room: The majority of students were living in the university managed Hall, and this is the first option exploited by the university. However, the minority opted for private rented accommodation after maximum capacity level was reached (Accommodation Campaign, 2012, p.1).

Security Level: Security was higher in Liberty Living owing to the fact that the building is still new, and also due to its ability to accommodate students with disabilities. However, security was the lowest in accommodation run by the private sector.

Cleanliness: Was highly maintained in private rented accommodation, due to the efforts of the university accommodation management aimed at ensuring high standards of cleanliness.(Accommodation Campaign, 2012, p.2). 

Internet Access: Better Internet access in Liberty Living owing to the fact that the premise is still new, and the network infrastructure is still up to standard. However, Internet access in private rented accommodation was poor, owing to the fact that this network infrastructure is prone to

being vandalized.

Emergency Responsiveness: Was the fastest in private rented accommodation due to direct access to police who might be on patrol and always responded quickly. By contrast, university security staff on duty were few and could be easily overwhelmed in case of emergency (The PALS Service, 2010, p.2). 

Closeness to Town: Private rented accommodation is closer to the town due to being located outside the campus compound. Unlike Halls and Liberty Living that are situated right inside the campus, private rented accommodation is just a walking distance away from the town..

Studying Environment: Private rented accomodation offered a better studying environment because of fewer students staying in them. Hence, perfect stydying conditions (Accommodation Campaign, 2012, p.1). 

Cost: The majority of students responded that Liberty Living gives the best value for their money. According to them, the provided services are of high quality, and those staying in Liberty Living have access to a variety of facilities at a relatively low cost. By contrast, students living in private rented accommodation may be exposed to private sector exploitation (Accommodation Campaign, 2012, p.2). 

Communal Site: Private rented accommodation is located on a serene communal site. The fact that it was shared by fewer students, made it possible for them to enjoy peace and quite while socializing with their peers. By contrast, university managed Hall on the campus was always crowded with students. 

Best Option to Adopt: Most proposed adopting an accommodation mode similar to that of Liberty Living, as it gave students the best value for money. It also offers free Internet access, that is vital for students in their academic research. In general, this accommodation mode provides a wide range of facilities for both mixed-sex and disabled students (StudentVillage, 2012, p.2).

Conclusion

The aim of the research was to gauge students’ attitudes towards the different accommodation options available at BedfordshireUniversity. Students gave their answers by rating such parameters as security, cleanliness and studying conditions. The feedback received enabled to conclude that Liberty Living and private rented accommodation have more competitive advantages than other options. Students also rated the extent, to which the abovementioned parameters are implemented, as well as areas where drastic improvement needs to be made. As per research results, Liberty Living was found to be the best accommodation option. It was suggested that the university management should adopt this mode of accommodation as part of their strategic future plan. Liberty Living gained the highest scores on the majority of issues of contention, thus proving to be the best service for money.

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