Westminster Higher Education Forum

Conferences that are scheduled to take place before September will be conducted online.
The format will mirror physical conferences organised by the Forum with speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish.
The conferences will be chaired and there will be opportunities for delegate questions and comments.
We will be contacting all participants in advance of each conference with full information and guidance on how to take part.
There will be some exceptions where conferences will be postponed, for instance those that would largely involve key stakeholders in the NHS or emergency services.
All participants affected by this will be informed as soon as possible.
If you’d like to speak to us over the phone about any booking-related queries, please call one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7951044809 / +44 (0)7538736244

Priorities for student housing - duty of care, inclusivity, and developments in policy, student expectations, and market conditions

Morning, Wednesday, 1st July 2020


This conference will examine next steps for improving student accommodation, including options for regulation - as well as the implications for universities and other accommodation providers, and for the students they serve.


There will be keynote addresses from:

  • Dominic Kingaby, Student Experience Policy Lead, Department for Education; and
  • Senior speaker to be confirmed from Unite Students.

Further confirmed speakers include: Karen Burke, Chair, Association for Student Residential Accommodation; David Smith, Policy Director, Residential Landlords Association and Dr Emily Walsh, Principal Lecturer in Law, University of Portsmouth.

Context and the focus for discussion

Delegates will discuss key issues for student housing in the context of significant developments, including:

  • Growing numbers of councils introducing licensing systems for landlords;
  • MHCLG reviewing responses to its recent consultation on managing fire risks in existing buildings, with significant implications for purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA);
  • The Government target to boost international student numbers to 600,000 by 2030;
  • Increasingly volatile student enrolment numbers as a result of the removal of student number controls, and uncertainty over the impact of Brexit on EU-based applicants; and
  • The Teaching Excellence Framework incorporating National Student Survey (NSS) satisfaction data - with the quality of support services and student accommodation affecting university ratings;

The agenda in summary

  • The changing shape of student expectations and how the market can respond;
  • Addressing student complaints relating to accommodation;
  • Expectations and experiences - safety, regulation, and delivering value for money;
  • The crucial first year - supporting students in the transition to living away from home;
  • What students want - insights from research on students’ views on renting;
  • Inclusive approaches to accommodation - mental health and catering for the needs of different student characteristics; and
  • Improving the student housing experience - key policy priorities.

Keynote Speakers

Josephine Hansom

Managing Director, Insight, YouthSight

Martin Blakey

Chief Executive, Unipol Student Homes

Dominic Kingaby

Student Experience Policy Lead, Department for Education

A senior speaker confirmed from Unite Students


Ben Channon

Head of Wellbeing, Assael Architecture

Ansh Sachdeva

President, University of Bolton Students’ Union

Dr Dean Machin

Strategic Policy Adviser, University of Portsmouth

Dr Emily Walsh

Principal Lecturer in Law, University of Portsmouth

David Smith

Policy Director, Residential Landlords Association

Ken Dytor

Founder and Executive Chair, Urban Catalyst

Karen Burke

Chair, Association for Student Residential Accommodation