Forward Look 2019-2022

Introduction

Unipol is a student housing charity, founded in Leeds in 1973 to drive forward an agenda of improving housing standards in the city. From the outset it has been, and continues to be, supported by the University of Leeds, Leeds Beckett University and their respective students’ unions. Some 45 years later, Unipol remains a unique charity and the largest not-for-profit housing organisation in the UK.  It champions the empowerment of students as consumers.  As its own role as a housing supplier has expanded, Unipol has developed its offer of a residential experience that reflects the diversity of the student community.

Unipol is now housing students in Leeds, Bradford and Nottingham. Nationally, it exerts influence on student housing policy and regulation. This is supported by the organisation’s long-term commitment to accreditation and its research and conferencing role in the student housing sector.

Progress made in the previous planning cycle

This Forward Look is written following a period of modest but sustainable growth. Over the past three years the organisation has improved its student engagement, its housing stock and its popularity with students, as demonstrated through its online activity and the strength of its lettings.

The market environment

Uncertainties have never been greater than they are now:

  • the higher education sector has become increasingly marketized. High-cost student loans are an integral part of this shift in government policy, but student finance arrangements could change as a result of the Augar Review, due to report in 2019
  • the impact of Brexit is entirely unknown. UK-wide, leaving the EU is likely to affect home and international student demand as well as the general economic circumstances in which Unipol operates
  • student accommodation demand could be volatile. A burst of investment from the private sector could drive up surpluses to levels last seen in the early 2000s.

The purpose of the Forward Look

In the face of these macro-economic forces, the new Forward Look cannot claim to provide a precise blueprint of how the organisation will develop in the future. But what it does aim to do is set out a statement of Unipol’s values and continuing purpose, and give a clear direction of travel. It also identifies a number of specific development and change objectives that should be achievable and that will drive the charity forward.

Vision and values are vital twin components of any successful charity. Allied to a sense of shared purpose with our partners and supporters, vision and values will be essential in negotiating and achieving our future development.

The Forward Look benefits from the engagement and input of staff, management and trustees into the planning process. These contributions are reflected in this document.

 

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