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Is it time for colleges in India to prioritize student housing?

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Over 12 million students migrate domestically for higher education every year. Increased internet penetration leading to growing awareness, rising aspirations and socio-cultural evolution is driving greater student migration, creating the need for modern, amenity-rich living options for students in key educational hubs. Today, as we begin Unlock 4.0 in the midst of an ongoing pandemic, the need for quality student housing facilities has become even more critical. For students and parents to agree to the reopening of educational institutions (even in a staggered manner), they first must trust the hygiene standards practiced across the campus, including in hostel facilities. Migrant students are prioritizing health and safety – which is why housing arrangements have become as critical in selecting a college as the faculty, academic rigour and educational facilities that it provides. Which is why colleges must focus on upgrading their student housing arrangements.
At the same time, with limited hostel capacity across most colleges (further constrained by social distancing needs), a significant chunk of students will have to depend on off-campus arrangements. Local, unorganized PGs/hostels of varying quality standards have historically serviced this need. But migrant students and their parents are no longer willing to compromise on factors like hygiene, quality of service and infrastructure, especially in a pandemic situation. It is equally important for college authorities to know that all their students (especially those housed off-campus), staff and faculty are staying in hygienic environments, reducing chances of exposure to infection.
In such a scenario, professional student accommodation – high quality, new-age avtaars of PG in Delhi, Bangalore, Pune and many other student hubs, which have been seeing growing consumer interest over the last few years, have now become the solution to student housing woes in the country. As a concept itself, managed accommodation operators have been extremely adaptable to consumer needs – delivering high quality, tech-enabled, end-to-end managed infrastructure and service experience. The pandemic has seen leading professional operators up the ante by agilely upgrading facilities and services to comply with all healthcare advisories, reduce probability of infection exposure for students and staff and pandemic-proof services as much as possible.
As educational institutes grapple with reopening challenges and pandemic-proofing their campuses, its time to focus on upgrading their student housing arrangements and partnering with professional student accommodation operators to create a healthy ecosystem even for off-campus students. These factors will be critical in a post-COVID world:

Deep focus on hygiene & safety:

Many professionally managed accommodation providers like Stanza Living have adopted an operating framework with stringent norms in place for hygiene and sanitization. They’ve introduced processes like contactless cooking and delivery of meals, exponentially increased sanitization and deep-cleaning practices, daily thermal monitoring and health checks for residents and staff, social distancing regulations etc to create a safer residential experience. This can be a huge burden off college authorities as they now have a reliable partner who has the ability, experience and resources to carry the baton of safe & hygienic living spaces.

Improves student productivity:

A conducive, uninterrupted and productive study environment is the basic right of a student. At the same time, a supportive peer network where students can live, learn and grow together is what makes shared living so beneficial. Professional student accommodation providers offer end-to-end managed services, a host of amenities and facilities to their residents so students are free from daily chores and hassles and can truly focus on their personal and academic growth. In a pandemic situation this is even more critical as these places support the need for remote study/ online classes through enterprise-grade internet, timely meals, power backup, privacy of space, study desks etc.

Professional management and cost optimization:

By outsourcing their hostel facilities to managed accommodation providers, colleges do not have to focus on daily maintenance and operations. At the same time, professional operators prioritize consumer experience while also keep a firm eye on cost optimization, tightening wastage and pilferage controls and ensuring better return on investment which benefits institutes in the long run.

Additional student housing supply:

Most managed accommodation providers have invested in creating fully-equipped, well-designed spaces where they take charge of end-to-end student living experience. These spaces are located across major student hubs in close vicinity to educational institutes. This is beneficial, especially as colleges may not have the space to fulfill housing demand of all migrant students and can direct additional demand to organized student accommodation providers that prioritize consumer safety and convenience.
The pandemic has not only nudged forward the critical need to build a supportive living ecosystem for over 9 million annually migrating students who need a safe and hassle-free place to stay, but also highlighted the necessity of educational institutes, professional student accommodation operators and developers to partner and develop a comprehensive solution for students. For a future-focused educational environment, this is now a critical ask.