Thursday, 16 May 2024

This is Not What I Signed Up For - The Anatomy of Student Complaints - May (online)

This event is now Sold Out. To be placed on the waiting list please email

A Constructive Approach to Student Accommodation Complaints: achieving satisfaction through understanding and utilising feedback

This online course is suitable for staff working in both universities and private PBSA who provide customer service and managers with responsibility for resolving complaints:

  • Front facing staff involved in PBSA operations
  • The nominated complaints contact under the ANUK/Unipol National Codes
  • Managers with a responsibility for handling complaints



9.45am - 10.00am Introduction


10.00am - 10.45am Student trends and common complaints

  • Who are students in 2023 and what are they complaining about
  • Understanding why students complain
  • Managing expectations
  • The importance of empathy


10.45am - 11.00am Break


11.00am - 12.00pm Review, Respond and Remedy

How to approach and assess complaints constructively, gathering evidence and formulating a response that achieves closure, including remedies and compensation. 


12.00pm - 12.30pm Lunch break


12.30pm - 1.15pm Real-life Scenarios

Considering real-life case studies (including group work and round table analysis)


1.15pm - 1.45pm Effective Processes

What should an effective complaints process look like? And how do you monitor complaints and review them to improve services for the future?


1.45pm - 2.30pm Who can help

The Role of the ANUK/Unipol National Codes, the Office of the Independent Adjudicator and Redress Schemes in dealing with complaints.


2.30pm - 2.40pm Concluding remarks and ends


Victoria Peckitt, Code Complaints Investigator, National Code/Unipol Student Homes

Vic is the Code Complaints Investigator at Unipol and deals with hundreds of student accommodation complaints every year so has a deep understanding of current issues and effective approaches.  With over ten years’ experience working in Student Property, she’s been with Unipol since 2015, performing roles including Housing Management and Tenancy Support. 

Victoria Tolmie-Loverseed, Assistant Chief Executive - Standards, Unipol Student Homes

Victoria Tolmie-Loverseed has worked in student accommodation for over 17 years with a wide experience of all kinds of housing including PBSA and off-street HMO. She works closely with HEIs’, Local Authorities, Governments and major suppliers to raise standards and address student needs through her work leading Unipol’s accreditation and research area. She is also a non-executive director of a housing association with a keen interest in customer support and engagement.

Jess Carrier, National Codes Co-ordinator, Unipol Student Homes

Jess joined Unipol in 2018 as the National Codes Coordinator after spending two years as the Welfare and Community Officer at Leeds Beckett Students’ Union. Her role includes administering the ANUK/Unipol National Codes and undertaking project work on various issues across the student accommodation sector. Having held a key Higher Education role during the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, she is experienced in student engagement and advocacy.


Student complaints about purpose built student accommodation (PBSA) and higher education are on the increase since the pandemic, with students more prepared to utilise formal processes to seek answers and recompense. And there is evidence of some reason to be dissatisfied including supply-chain issues affecting availability of parts, contractor shortages and higher rents challenging perceptions of value for money. In addition, a diverse student population with greater needs mean service expectation are high.

So, with business as usual more complex than ever, when things inevitably go wrong, how to do you establish a culture that welcomes student complaints, as well as the ability to handle them effectively?

And The Renters (Reform) Bill contains proposals to introduce a housing ombudsman or redress scheme that will be applicable to all landlords including student accommodation. Now is a good time to reflect and review internal processes to ensure your complaints approach is up to scratch.

With complaints increasing, an effective process will enable providers to learn from issues and take steps to put things right. Complaints should be viewed as a valuable source of information on performance and culture, and an opportunity to demonstrate high quality customer service through effective resolution.

Some providers see complaints as a negative, seeking to ignore or supress whilst others see it as a transaction process, seeking only to disprove the student’s claims whilst ignoring the impact of adverse experiences. But a well-designed and operated complaints system will have many benefits for an organisation including:

  • Encouraging a positive, trusting and emphatic relationship between students and staff
  • Preventing issues escalating and become a larger drain on time and resources
  • Empowering staff to take ownership of issues and gain satisfaction through resolving concerns
  • Providing valuable information on performance and highlighting issues
  • Protecting and enhancing your reputation, preventing negative reviews and word-of-mouth
  • Avoiding formal escalation to external bodies such as the ANUK/Unipol National Codes, Office of the Independent Adjudicator or a redress scheme.

What does this course cover?

The one day interactive course has been completely revised for this academic year to take into account the latest complaints data and using new case studies that reflect current concerns in PBSA management.

The course covers:

  • The changing demographics of the student population and why are they complaining about PBSA? The latest data and case studies
  • Principles of effective complaint handling – early resolution, managing expectations, fairness
  • How to identify welfare and support needs early in the process
  • How to approach and assess complaints, gathering evidence, effective remedies and formulating a response that achieves closure
  • Handling requests for compensation
  • What does an effective complaints process and system look like? And how do you monitor complaints and review them to improve services for the future?
  • How the ANUK/Unipol National Codes deal with complaints and requirements for members

The course examines a number of established approaches and techniques that work in showing receptiveness to mistakes, and how to understand and handle the compensation culture.

The course is interactive with delegates and:

  • explores actual case studies including group work that demonstrate particular types of problems and approaches that can be taken inviting a critical approach
  • looks at accommodation-related cases being received by the OIA (Office of the Independent Adjudicator) and the ANUK/Unipol National Codes and sees how these are resolved

Cost per delegate

Friends of Unipol Rate - £120

Normal Delegate Rate - £150

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