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Sodexo introduces concierge service to support university students

As part of its Residential Living programme, Sodexo has launched its concierge service, Circles, at Northumbria University and Bath Court at Birmingham University.

From this month students at the two Sodexo-managed university accommodation facilities will be able to access personal assistance services such as arranging travel bookings, downtime suggestions and shopping through a dedicated portal or over the phone 24/7. The service is free to students, with no commission or booking fees; members only pay for what they purchase.

Circles will support students returning to university, enhancing their experience by helping them to settle into university life by taking away the burden of everyday life admin tasks. The service will also provide an extra helping hand when their study workload increases or during stressful exam periods.

The launch of Circles at the two sites is timely following a new survey from Sodexo which reveals that students are finding it hard to adjust to life during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The research, conducted in partnership with Youth Sight, polled 566 students both before (March) and during (June) the pandemic.

The key highlights from the report include:

  • Whilst 75 per cent of university students felt satisfied with their lives before the pandemic, this dropped to 52 per cent during the pandemic.
  • Students are concerned about their ability to make new friends at university with social distancing measures in place. Initiatives to facilitate safe socialising are deemed the second most important service they require, after good IT and study facilities.
  • Students have struggled with the transition to online/distance learning, with 39 per cent unhappy with the experience.
  • Over three in four were happy with contact time pre-Covid-19 but this dropped to a third during Covid-19. Similarly, whilst around half of students felt their university was value for money pre-Covid, now just under a quarter feel that way.
  • Fears about employability topped the list of concerns, with 50 per cent worried about their ability to get a job.

Andrew Wilkinson, CEO Schools & Universities, said: “Going to university can be a daunting experience and the introduction of social distancing measures will make it harder for new students to settle into university life. We have worked in close partnership with universities to introduce appropriate measures to protect the physical health of students, but protecting their mental health is also crucial.

“The introduction of Circles is another step in making sure that students living in accommodation we are managing have the support they need when they need it. Our latest research suggests that now more than ever, students require innovative tools to help them settle into their new surroundings and thrive academically.”



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