Arriving at university can be an exciting whirlwind of new experiences. For many students it means their first taste of living away from home, a whole new social circle to mix with and the freedom to manage their own time and money. It’s also a lifestyle shift that can prove stressful and overwhelming and, as service providers, Sodexo believes in improving student experience by supporting students’ physical and social infrastructure.


The Four Pillars of the Student Journey

Sodexo pioneered the Residency Living offer at Northumbria University in 2014 to take university services beyond the day to day facilities management role. It is now an integral service at all Sodexo-managed accommodation sites, covering 10,000 student beds at locations including London, Birmingham and Leicester. 

“Residency Living was introduced to help students cope with the changes and thrive – not just survive – both academically and socially,” says Tom Martin. Tom is head of the programme, which is designed to improve the overall student wellbeing, safety, health and social mobility of students and covers all four stages of their academic journey – pre-arrival, arrival, living and departure. 


Statistics drive the model to promote wellbeing on campus

Residency Living has been informed by reports and insights including the Sodexo University Lifestyle Survey and research conducted for Sodexo by UCL’s Dr Zachery Spire and Professor Alexi Marmot.

Services span the full spectrum of student needs to improve their experience: learning, living and socialising. “Our on-campus team really understands and interpret students’ needs,” says Tom. “Residency Living covers everything from fire safety, keeping rooms clean and money budgeting classes to simple cooking lessons, sleep hygiene and managing stress. The mental health agenda has become increasingly important, and key personnel have Mental Health First Aid and ASSIST training.”


Technology that still delivers a personal touch

In the digital-led world for Generation Z, technology plays a pivotal role and much of the support is available online via the Student Living app and through social media. New innovations are being introduced, including Thrive: the Mental Wellbeing app and a digital concierge service, Sodexo Circles, which proved a lifeline for students in lockdown to request help with essential groceries, online fitness classes and recipes. 

Every engagement activity, whether digital or physical, aims to deliver a positive social value impact, which Sodexo measures using the national TOMs framework via the Social Value Portal and through regular student feedback. A survey reported that 96% of students would recommend staying at residency; 91% said their stay was either good or excellent. 

“There are many strands to Residency Living and it’s being continuously driven by students themselves so we can respond to their ever-evolving needs,” says Tom. “Its ultimate aims are to enhance and enrich the independent living skills of our students, help them to achieve social and wellbeing cohesion, which will improve satisfaction levels and student retention rates for our educational clients.”

“We did this for a step-change. Previously if students did something wrong, they’d be told off. Sodexo’s approach improves quality of life…now students don’t get told off, they’re taught life skills.”

David Jackson – Assistant Director, Commercial Services Northumbria University.

Learn more about Sodexo's accommodation services.

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June 28, 2021

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