Lettings agency wins prestigious Guardian University Award
Liani Mannifield, USL Accommodation Manager, and Saskia Cochrane, President of the Students’ Union, were thrilled to accept the award, which was presented by Lauren Laverne at the awards ceremony held last night at LSO St Luke’s in London.
The ‘Student Experience’ award recognises innovative projects or initiatives that have positively enhanced the academic and/or personal experience of the student body. USL fought off strong competition from other universities with the category receiving the second highest number of entries across the awards. The University of Surrey was also runner up for its Feedback Engagement and Tracking at Surrey (FEATS) initiative in the ‘Teaching Excellence’ category. The FEATS initiative has been a collaborative technology-enabled project between staff and students, empowering students to engage actively and productively with the feedback they receive on their assessed work.
USL is a not-for-profit lettings service which was established in November 2016 as part of an initiative by the Students' Union to provide a comprehensive advice and support service to students renting off campus. It also aims to bring students and the local community closer by fostering good relationships and making sure that students are acting as respectful neighbours within Guildford.
Liani said: “It is not only an incredible achievement to be recognised for the delivery of such a great project but also rewarding to see the positive impact this project has had for our students.”
USL provides a practical advice service to all students preparing to or already living in the private sector. They also manage the University's head leasing scheme, which allows private landlords to rent their properties directly to the University as their tenant and then the property is sublet to students without a monthly fee percentage.
Saskia said: “We are delighted that USL have received well deserved recognition for their hard work. The topic of student accommodation has been on the Union’s agenda for many years and together with USL we are confident that great improvements can continue to be made. Having a comfortable, secure and appropriate place to live at University is incredibly important and is fundamental to the student experience.”
USL is keen to make a positive impact in Guildford. During its first 18 months the team reached out across the University to the local community, to engage with resident associations, estate agents, landlords and the local council, to help foster greater understanding. The work the team have done has resulted in other letting agencies changing their practices and engaging more positively with the University and our students. USL are also accredited by the Guildford Lettings Accreditation Scheme, voluntary members of the Property Redress Scheme and are the first educational establishment to become a licensed ARLA agent.
Professor Jane Powell, Vice Provost Education and Students, said: “We’re delighted to see University of Surrey Lettings receive this accolade, which is a very pleasing recognition of the hard work the team have put in to make it a success. We are determined to make our students’ time at university the best possible experience for them, working closely with the Students’ Union, to ensure that they feel part of the wider community locally - and this is a great example of how we’re doing so.
“I am also very proud to see that FEATS was shortlisted in the “Teaching Excellence” category. This project likewise reflects close collaboration between staff and students, and is another excellent illustration of how we’re working together to enhance our students’ education here at Surrey.”
This is the sixth year of the Guardian University Awards and the awards are highly recognised across the higher education sector in the UK.
For a full list of Guardian University Awards 2018 winners please visit: theguardian.com/higher-education-network/2018/apr/24/guardian-university-awards-2018-the-winners
Visit the USL website at: surrey.ac.uk/lettings