Unite Students, the UK’s largest provider of student accommodation, has committed to donating 1% of annual profits to social initiatives going forward, amounting to a commitment of c.£2million a year.
These initiatives will be closely aligned to its purpose of providing a Home for Success for students and its aim of widening participation in higher education.
There will be two main funding streams in 2022. The first covers Unite Students’ Leapskills programme – an interactive set of workshops designed to prepare school-leavers for independent living at university. The second will cover the Unite Foundation, the charitable trust founded by Unite Students in 2012, which provides free accommodation for care leavers and estranged students while at university.
Funding will be directed to Unite Students’ Leapskills programme, which helps young people to fully prepare for making the ‘leap’ to university life.
The programme, which is endorsed by the Department of Education, was originally set up in 2018 after research by Unite Students highlighted a gap in student expectations versus the reality of university life. It supports 17 and 18-year-olds through workshops and online training and has successfully helped more than 4,000 school and college-leavers prepare to live more independently.
This summer, Unite Students is partnering with UCAS to reach even more young people and assist their preparations ahead of the start of the 2022/2023 academic year.
Leapskills aims to help students get the most out of living with different people, making new friends, balancing work with fun, while managing money and juggling academic study. Schools interested in accessing Leapskills for their pupils preparing to go to university can sign up here.
This year, Unite Students will to be supporting 100 students to mark the Unite Foundation’s 10th anniversary.
The independent charity, which currently partners with 25 universities across England and Scotland to provide free university accommodation for care leavers and young people estranged from their families, has helped 514 students to date. Since its inception, Unite Students has committed £18million to the Unite Foundation.
Richard Smith, Chief Executive at Unite Students, said:
“We are hugely proud to pledge 1% of our annual profits to social initiatives going forward. This is a significant commitment – for us as a business, and the sector more broadly. We have a long track record of funding social initiatives, but this new commitment ensures a sustained positive social impact.
“Widening participation in higher education has always been important to Unite Students – reflected in the two pre-existing initiatives we are funding here. Our Leapskills programme plugs that expectation-versus-reality gap for students, providing essential tools to prepare them for university life, while the Unite Foundation is doing vital work to level the playing field.”