Residential Strategy

Investing in student residences

The University is very aware of the importance of its residential accommodation in attracting exceptionally talented students to Bristol, and in helping their transition into higher education so that they may achieve their full potential.The quality and character of the residences can have a powerful influence on the personal development and academic performance of our students in their first year. The University knows how important it is to avoid bland uniformity in its accommodation stock. Students should be able to value and benefit from the communities that are fostered in the Residences.

The University established the Residential Strategy Board, and its terms of reference and membership in 2007. Its job has been to review the residential estate and offering, to consult all stakeholders – especially current students – and to develop proposals for the future.

The Residential Strategy has been through an exhaustive review process, which has included the development of a draft strategy, and University-wide consultations in order to collect feedback from students, staff, Convocation, Council and Court, as to the Strategy's aims and objectives.

The overall aim is to offer students a variety of high quality communities in attractive, well-maintained environments, which are ecologically sound, economically viable, and competitively priced. In pursuing this goal, the University will learn from its past, conserve the best of the present and provide for the future so that accommodation at Bristol will be as distinctive as the University itself and will compare favourably with competitor institutions.

More specifically, the University has confirmed that its residences should:

We also recognise that whilst there is the need to continually improve what we provide our students, it is also imperative to safeguard the uniqueness of the Bristol offer, and the future of the Residential and Hospitality Service. The Residential Strategy Board has been investigating a number of ways in which the overall management of the Residential and Hospitality Service can be modernised, whilst simultaneously enhancing and improving the experience of residential students. As a result we have started the implementation of a change process in order to achieve this aim. We have a Q&A section on this website which helps explain this process more fully.

The University aims to guarantee residential accommodation for all its first-year undergraduates and for overseas postgraduate students. It would also like to provide accommodation for more returning undergraduates and new and returning home postgraduates. It is therefore actively considering ways in which the 4,750 bed spaces it currently provides might be increased.

With extensive input from stakeholders, consultants, staff, senior management, and the students, the Residential Strategy Board has been investigating a range of issues, and a set of position papers (21.8KB Word Doc) has been developed in order to outline and provide detail on the University's strategy for tackling them.

The University recognises that there are a number of practical issues that need addressing, including which residences might be refurbished and which might be subject to more radical improvement; how individual student rooms might be laid out; the provision of transport to and from the Stoke Bishop residences; the catering options that might work best for all concerned; the shared facilities that should be available at the residences; and how the residences strategy might be financed and remain sustainable.

The Board has been working toward the production of ‘master plans’ for the Stoke Bishop and Clifton residences, as well as proposals for the University’s student houses. These plans will be the focus of much discussion, both within the University and by external stakeholders. At the same time, the Board has also been considering potential opportunities to acquire new sites for residential accommodation. Recently, the University purchased 33 Colston Street, a city-centre property, which is currently undergoing a substantial refurbishment before reopening in September 2011.

This is a complex and ambitious programme, particularly given the absolute need to safeguard the powerful sense of identity and community that accounts for many current residences’ success. It is vital that widespread consultation continues.