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Brighter future for student residences

Hiatt Baker Hall

Hiatt Baker Hall

18 March 2008

The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Eric Thomas, offers a few brief comments on future plans for the University's student residences.

Our student residential estate provides some 3,500 rooms. It includes six halls of residence in Stoke Bishop, several significant historic houses in Clifton and a range of student houses. This adds up to a very substantial asset, but there has been under-investment over the years and steps must be taken to avoid some serious deterioration.

In addition, the demand for University accommodation is in danger of outstripping supply, so it may be necessary to increase the number of bed spaces.

Furthermore, in the competitive environment of Higher Education, we must respond to students’ changing needs and expectations, without falling prey to the merely fashionable. There is an opportunity to develop a new, distinctive vision for Bristol’s residences – one that both draws on all that has been learnt over the decades and defines afresh what characterises a successful residential student community. 

The residences can play a very significant part in an individual’s transition from home/school to independence. We want to provide students with a choice of high quality, value-for-money accommodation with good amenities for living and learning, better transport links and improved safety and security.

A sensitive and comprehensive response to the challenge of providing sustainable accommodation that serves and supports students even better, both as individuals and communities, will help to consolidate the University’s reputation for excellence and reinforce its international standing.

A Residential Strategy Board chaired by the Registrar, Derek Pretty, has embarked on the challenging task of identifying ways forward. There is a very long way to go: condition assessments, options appraisals, market analyses, financial viability checks, environmental impact assessments, planning issues – all these and more will need to be dealt with, not to mention extensive consultation with a wide variety of stakeholders.

As soon as there is a degree of clarity on the key questions, let alone the answers, appropriate information will be made accessible to everyone via the web. In the meantime, I would just like to emphasise two things:

  • No decisions have been taken on any aspect of the residences project yet. If you are told otherwise, you are being misinformed. At this stage, nobody knows what will emerge as the most advantageous options for students, the wider community and the University.
  • When it does come to making decisions on what is best for students living in University residences, the voice of one group of stakeholders will hold more sway than any other – that of the students themselves. This, I hope you will agree, is only fair.


Many thanks to everyone who commented on the draft statement of Mission, Vision and Values that was drawn to the attention of all staff in February. Your comments were very helpful and have been taken into account in finalising the statement. This will be published on paper and online as part of the new University Plan.  


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