Estates and accommodation provision can facilitate an inclusive environment. This can be done through removing barriers to inaccessible or inappropriate main campus buildings, circulation areas, accommodation, social spaces and amenities, and teaching and learning environments. It may also require targeted estates and accommodation provision that responds to identified requirements that are not met through existing provision.
For accommodation provision to work effectively for all students, a shared vision to promote an inclusive approach needs to be developed between the various functional areas and organisations that provide services to students. Good communication between estates development and information about student requirements and trends that is held by residential services need to be in place.
Where targeted forms of provision are provided for different groups it will often be necessary to balance the provision against the potential separation of different groups that can result. For example, if an HEI is seeking to meet a request for a kitchen area within accommodation to be designated solely for halal or kosher use, this should prompt consideration of whether new communal spaces should be created to facilitate integration. HEIs increasingly understand the role university-supported social events can play in building a more inclusive environment within residences.
Students with impairments
Students with impairments may have additional accommodation requirements, including any accommodation requirement for personal assistants who assist with getting dressed, washing, etc. Where possible, this would be discussed with the disabled students’ officer and disability services well in advance of the student joining the HEI, who will then liaise with the student accommodation department. The cost of personal assistants, including their accommodation costs, may be met by a student’s local social services department.
Religion and belief in your accommodation
Examples of specific accommodation requests or requirements linked to religion or belief may include the following.
- Single-sex accommodation. Some HEIs may provide single-sex accommodation, which some students may choose because of their religion or belief. This may need to be considered in relation to an HEI’s aim of promoting integration through the allocation of places. Any accommodation allocations procedure that takes account of a student’s religion or belief should be non-discriminatory, well publicised and transparent.
- Specific religious accommodation. Some HEIs may provide specific religious accommodation, such as Shabbat accommodation. Shabbat is a day of rest, and for observant Jews specific work is forbidden – this may include work within accommodation, for example turning on light switches, or using electronic keycards or lift buttons. The provision of such accommodation may need to be considered in relation to an HEI’s aim of promoting integration through the allocation of accommodation places. Further details: Union of Jewish Students
- Shared kitchens. Accommodation may include shared kitchens, where students of different religions and beliefs may have different requirements for food preparation. An HEI may consider, for example, providing different microwaves for vegetarian and non-vegetarian food, which may help students observe their dietary requirements.
- Health and safety. Certain religious observances (such as the use of candles) may breach health and safety regulations. Students may be encouraged to use local and campus facilities, or to see if alternatives may be used.
Managing inclusive building design for higher education
Equality briefing and process checklist
Handbook for student accommodation providers: support and guidance for equality and diversity
A practical resource on which to develop management agreements between higher education institutions (HEIs) and student accommodation providers on equality and diversity issues
Inclusive campus: accommodation and social space
Developing an inclusive approach to providing accommodation and social space in the higher education sector
Accommodation services: supporting gay students
A leaflet with information and advice for providers of student accommodation