2021 Awards Categories


Nominations closing date extended to 23:59 Wednesday 15 September 2021

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Best Covid Response - Student Property *New*

The Covid-19 pandemic hit the student accommodation sector hard. Who can forget the images of ‘Help Us. Send Beer’ messages daubed on halls of residence windows, angry students protesting waving ‘HMP Fallowfield. £9k to enter’ placards and 7ft tall metal fencing supposedly erected to stop non-students getting in rather than prevent students getting out? Throw in this year’s campus occupation protests over rents and it has been a very difficult year for parts of the student accommodation sector.

Some in the sector responded better and more quickly than others to the huge challenges presented by the Covid lockdowns and switch to remote learning. Were you one of them?

If yes, we want to hear from you. We are looking to celebrate a brilliant student accommodation organisation or business that rose to the challenge in a way that benefited students and/or the business.

Did you reconfigure student accommodation in an innovative way to make it Covid secure? Did you introduce student mental health or welfare programmes or come up with an innovative way of facilitating remote learning? Did you offer rent discounts or refunds? Did you engage and communicate with students in a particularly effective way? Or perhaps you implemented a strategy aimed at supporting your own staff through the crisis. Did you come up with a creative way of mitigating the financial damage on your business or organisation caused by the pandemic?

This category is open to organisations and individuals primarily operating in the student accommodation sector. If you are primarily in the residential or commercial real estate sectors, please enter the equivalent category in the RESI Awards or Property Awards.

The judges will be looking for evidence of the following:

  • The challenges and threats Covid faced by your business or sector
  • How you tackled or overcame them
  • Why it was particularly innovative, game-changing or standout
  • What you had to change organisationally or strategically and how you went about it
  • Financial pragmatism
  • Tangible positive immediate impact
  • Focus on student welfare
  • Effective communication and engagement with students
  • Any longer-term impact it has had or lasting change it has led to
  • A summary of why you should win this award

Climate Crisis Initiative - Student Property *New*

Over the past few years, climate change has rocketed to the top of the agenda, fuelled by the UK government’s target to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 – one of the most ambitious carbon targets in the world. The property industry is one of the biggest parts of the problem – the built environment is responsible for an estimated 40% of emissions – and potentially one of the biggest parts of the solution.

This year, to tie in with the second year of Property Week’s Climate Crisis Challenge campaign, we want to celebrate the ground-breaking work the student accommodation property sector is doing to tackle the climate crisis and improve the sector’s environmental credentials.

This new award for 2021 is aimed at organisations and individuals working in the student accommodation property sector that have implemented, completed or committed to a transformative ESG or climate-focused scheme, strategy or initiative in the past year (September 2020 – September 2021 - but please include information about any missed/ delayed completion dates due to the current situation).

This category is open to organisations and individuals primarily operating in the student accommodation sector. If you are primarily in the residential or commercial real estate sectors, please enter the equivalent category in the RESI Awards or Property Awards.

We are not looking for the biggest projects, we are looking for the best. The judges will be looking for evidence of the following:

  • The scheme, initiative or strategy is ESG or climate focused
  • Why it is transformative/innovative/disruptive
  • Impact of Covid and how you overcame challenges posed by the pandemic
  • Scale and ambition
  • Commitment to net zero carbon
  • Top ratings in known accreditation schemes such as BREEAM or the WELL Building Standard
  • How you overcame the challenges posed by Covid
  • Tangible and meaningful action
  • Demonstrable and measurable impact
  • Commitment to diversity and inclusion

Health & Wellbeing Initiative - Student Property *New*

Covid has shone the spotlight on mental health and health and wellbeing. New for 2021, the health and wellbeing award aims to celebrate the organisation or individual that has done the most in the past year to support the health and wellbeing of staff, occupiers or the local community.

We are looking for an exemplar initiative, scheme or project that has raised the bar in terms of health and wellbeing. Has your building achieved a WELL certification and/or best-in-class environmental accreditation standard rating (e.g. BREEAM, LEED, SKA)? Have you done something ground-breaking to support the health and wellbeing of your staff or occupiers? Perhaps you have prioritised health and wellbeing features in a new scheme. Have you worked collaboratively on a community-focused project aimed at enhancing community health and wellbeing?

This category is open to organisations and individuals primarily operating in the student accommodation sector. If you are primarily in the residential or commercial real estate sectors, please enter the equivalent category in the RESI Awards or Property Awards.

The judges will be looking for evidence of the following:

  • Details of the building, project or initiative and how health and wellbeing was considered throughout its development lifecycle
  • How you responded to Covid
  • Why you think your achievement is so ground-breaking or innovative
  • Collaboration
  • Effective communication to and education of staff/occupiers/community
  • A demonstrable and measurable positive impact
  • Long-term vision
  • Commitment so diversity and inclusion 
  • A summary of why you should win this award

Social Impact Initiative - Student Property *New*

Social impact has been one of the breakthrough issues of the past few years and has come to the fore in the Covid-19 pandemic. To tie in with Property Week’s role as media partner to LandAid and Newcore Capital’s Pro Bono Programme, we want to celebrate the best social impact projects and initiatives of the past year (September 2020 – September 2021 - but please include information about any missed/ delayed completion dates due to the current situation).

We are looking for an organisation or individual that has implemented, completed or committed to a ground-breaking social impact scheme, project or initiative that has had a real and measurable positive social impact on the community.

This category is open to organisations and individuals primarily operating in the student accommodation sector. If you are primarily in the residential or commercial real estate sectors, please enter the equivalent category in the RESI Awards or Property Awards.

The judges will be looking for evidence of the following:

  • Social impact is the primary rationale
  • The scheme/project/initiative is truly community focused
  • How it is innovative/ground-breaking
  • Scale and ambition
  • Long-term vision
  • Demonstrable and measurable impact on the community
  • Capped or zero commercial returns, or implemented at a loss
  • True community engagement
  • Commitment to diversity and inclusion
  • Positive environmental impact
  • A summary of why you should win this award

Agency Team of the Year

Outstanding agency teams possess an in-depth expertise and ability in all areas of student accommodation to ensure that clients receive the best possible advice, support, and guidance. The award is open student accommodation agency teams that offer professional serves to developers, investors, operators and/or universities. Depending on your structure, you may connect universities, owners, and operators, landowners, PBSA developers, and investors to help them maximise opportunities in the student accommodation space. Crucially, you will make a real difference to your clients’ business and have a strong track record to prove it.

You will need to provide 750 words on the criteria below, and you will also be able to submit PDFs/Docs of supporting material.

What the judges are looking for:

  • Demonstrable evidence of a range of professional work you do, such as market valuations, development appraisals and benchmarking, portfolio strategy, operator selection and related
  • Track record of successful transactions over the last 12 months (September 2020 – September 2021 – but please include information about any missed/ delayed completion dates due to the current situation)
  • An outline of specialist areas you have developed - these could be anything from feasibility studies to advice on functional suitability, learning environments, and space planning
  • Evidence of strong client focus and positive client feedback – for instance via testimonials, case studies or media coverage
  • A brief summary outlining why you feel you should win the award
  • If relevant, please demonstrate how you responded to the current global health crisis that supported both the industry and student wellbeing.

Collaboration Award

This award recognises the growing importance of collaboration between the private sector - developers, operators and/or investors – and universities. We are seeking outstanding partnership and collaboration projects between the two sides, from DBFOs and investment deals, development of new schemes and campus refurbishment projects, to any innovative collaboration that has resulted in a better student housing offer.

When entering the award, please ensure to specify all parties in the collaboration, the nature of the partnership and its objectives.

You will need to provide 750 words on the criteria below and you will also be able to submit PDFs/Docs of supporting material.

What the judges are looking for:

  • Evidence of genuine collaboration between the private and university sectors over the past two years
  • Creativity and vision in aligning interests and creating end-results that work for each party
  • Positive outcomes of collaboration - such as strong financial results, significantly improved quality of accommodation/number of beds, excellent student feedback, etc.
  • Demonstrable evidence of positive impact on student life
  • A robust business model and financial forecasts
  • A summary of why you feel you should win
  • If relevant, please demonstrate how you responded to the current global health crisis that supported both the industry and student wellbeing.

Developer of the Year - Student Property

Are you the standout student accommodation developer of the past year? Have you developed landmark schemes, pulled off ground-breaking deals, embarked on innovative joint ventures or pioneered new ideas that have changed the face of property development in the UK? Have you moved the dial in terms of the ESG or social impact agendas? Have you raised the bar architecturally or developed a scheme that has helped regenerate an area? Then we want to hear from you.

We are looking to reward achievements specifically between September 2020 and September 2021 - but please include information about any missed/ delayed completion dates due to the current situation.

This category is open to organisations and individuals primarily operating in the student accommodation sector. If you are primarily in the residential or commercial real estate sectors, please enter the equivalent category in the RESI Awards or Property Awards.

The judges will be looking for evidence of the following:

  • Best-in-class achievements or initiatives
  • Impact of Covid and how you overcame challenges posed by the pandemic
  • Strong strategic vision
  • Solid financial performance – perhaps against the odds
  • Development activity – perhaps against the odds
  • Innovation
  • Tangible and measurable results
  • New strategies, business development or staff/training initiatives
  • Commitment to diversity and inclusion
  • Commitment to ESG and social impact
  • A summary of why you feel you deserve to win this award

Hall of Fame

The winner will be announced on the Awards night. They will be chosen by an anonymous ballot of all the judges who take part in the category judging.

This category is now closed

Halls of Residence

It has been a hugely challenging year for UK halls of residence, whether university or privately owned. Who can forget the images of ‘Help Us. Send Beer’ messages daubed on halls of residence windows, angry students protesting waving ‘HMP Fallowfield. £9k to enter’ placards and 7ft tall metal fencing supposedly erected to stop non-students getting in rather than prevent students getting out? Throw in this year’s campus occupation protests over rents and it has been a very difficult year for parts of the student accommodation sector. Some halls of residence responded better and more quickly than others to the challenges presented by the Covid lockdowns and switch to remote learning. Were you one of them? Then we want to hear from you.

The category is open to single halls of residence (including multi-site developments) – both private and university owned – that rose to the challenges posed by Covid and did everything they could to support students through this challenging time.

The judges will be looking for evidence of the following:

  • A modern student environment, encompassing best-in-class learning and communal facilities
  • A rapid and robust response to the Covid-19 pandemic
  • Exceptional student experience taking into consideration wellbeing, learning and social/community aspects
  • Exciting tech and social media initiatives
  • Brilliant engagement and communication with students
  • Exceptional value for money
  • Flexible arrangements in light of Covid
  • Strong student support network and pastoral care
  • Consistently high satisfaction ratings from students
  • Innovation, vision and boldness that set you apart from the crowd
  • Commitment to ESG agenda
  • UP to 750 words summarising why you should win

Innovation Award

The award is aimed at organisations or individuals that are using innovation to create an outstanding student experience. They may be technology organisations with cutting-edge solutions, architects with ground-breaking design concepts, smart energy companies, or start-ups offering truly innovative solutions to the sector’s challenges. Whatever your specialism, you will be challenging the status quo and taking the industry to the next level.

If you have done something particularly innovative or game-changing in any area of student living over the past 12 months we’d like to hear from you (September 2020 – September 2021 - but please include information about any missed/ delayed completion dates due to the current situation).

You will need to provide 750 words on the criteria below and you will also be able to submit PDFs/Docs of supporting material.

What the judges are looking for:

  • Evidence of genuine innovation in the past year
  • Creativity and vision in creating a solution that addresses a specific need or significantly improves student life
  • A robust business model and financial forecast
  • Evidence of strong engagement with the student body
  • Evidence of a strong and potentially transformative impact on student life
  • A summary of why you feel you should win
  • If relevant, please demonstrate how you responded to the current global health crisis that supported both the industry and student wellbeing.

Does your product have what it takes to win? If it does, tell us why in 750 words or less

International Operator of the Year

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on international students and some international operators in the sector have responded better – and more quickly – to the challenge than others.

Are you an overseas operator or a UK-based operator with international reach? Have you gone above and beyond the call of duty in the way you have risen to the challenges posed by Covid? Have you succeeded in extending your geographical reach despite the pandemic? Is the accommodation you offer the first choice for students in that location? Then we want to hear from you.

We are looking for an outstanding operator that has successfully moved into new geographies in the past three years and adapted to the processes and challenges unique to each of them – as well as the challenges presented over the past year by the pandemic.

The judges will be looking for evidence of the following:

  • The creation of student-centric environments with outstanding learning, social and recreational facilities that reflect the countries they are operating in
  • A rapid and robust response to the Covid pandemic
  • Initiatives that support student mental health and wellbeing
  • Deep understanding of the new markets the business is operating in
  • Excellent customer services, on-site assistance and support
  • Exciting tech and social media initiatives
  • Brilliant engagement and communication with students
  • A range of rental options and rates; flexible arrangements in light of Covid
  • Innovation, vision and boldness that set you apart from the crowd
  • Commitment to ESG agenda
  • Up to 750 words summarising why you should win

Investor of the Year

A forward-thinking investor will seek student housing that is closely aligned with student needs, is strategically located and offers tangible investment returns. The award will recognize any type of investor – an investment or institutional fund, private equity firm, and other providers of finance – that has excelled in making the right financial decisions.

The judges will be looking for an organisation that:

  • Invested in a new development or redevelopment project over the past 18 months
  • Made investments in a student housing scheme committed to providing the latest in facilities, design and/or technology
  • Possesses a deep understanding of the student accommodation market
  • Shown financial innovation in student accommodation deals over the past 18 months (up to September 2021 - please include information about any missed/ delayed completion dates due to the current situation).
  • Has a proven track record of investing in best-in-class student accommodation projects
  • If relevant, please demonstrate how you responded to the current global health crisis that supported both the industry and student wellbeing.

Do you think you are the investor of the year? If so, tell us why in 750 words or less.

Legal/Professional Team – Student Property

This category is aimed at law firms and specialist property consultants (or departments of larger agency firms) that provide one or more of the following: legal advice, valuation, rating, rent review and property/land and estate management. It is also open to building surveyors, firms that provide planning/development or environmental advice and practices that are strong in arbitration, claims, expert witness or legal services. It is not open to facilities management organisations or other property advisers.

This category is open to organisations and individuals primarily operating in student accommodation property sector. If you are primarily in the residential or commercial real estate sectors, please enter the equivalent category in the RESI Awards or Property Awards.

The judges will be looking for evidence of:

  • Why 2020 was a strong year for the team – perhaps against the odds
  • The impact of Covid and how you overcame the challenges posed by the pandemic
  • The range of legal or professional work you do and how this has changed
  • Details of key instructions/commissions you have won
  • Business development or staff/training initiatives
  • Robust financial performance – perhaps against the odds
  • Strong client focus and positive client feedback – for instance via testimonials
  • Commitment to diversity and inclusion
  • Commitment to the ESG agenda
  • A summary of why you feel you deserve to win this award.

Operator of the Year (UK only)

The Covid-19 pandemic hit student accommodation hard. Some UK operators responded better and more quickly than others to the huge challenges presented by the Covid lockdowns and switch to remote learning. Were you one of them?

Did you go above and beyond in the way you supported students living in your accommodation during this challenging time? Were you able to pivot quickly to adapt your accommodation to the needs of locked down students? Did you find that necessity was the mother of invention in the way you operate your buildings? Then we want to hear from you.

The category is open to any operator of student accommodation that is accredited by ANUK.

The judges will be looking for evidence of:

  • Student-centric environments with outstanding learning, social and recreational facilities
  • Rapid and robust response to the Covid-19 pandemic
  • Excellent customer services, on-site assistance and support
  • Exciting tech and social media initiatives
  • Brilliant engagement and communication with students
  • Consistently high satisfaction ratings from students
  • Innovation, vision and boldness that set you apart from the crowd
  • A range of rental options and rates
  • Innovative initiatives that support student mental health and wellbeing
  • Commitment to the ESG agenda
  • Up to 750 words summarising why you should win

Rising Star

Rising Star – Who is the brightest talent in the PBSA sector? Who is making a difference and forging their way to the top of successful careers or businesses in this area? Who will be the next titans of the industry? This category is open to individuals that can demonstrate they are the next generation of future leaders and are delivering innovation in the student accommodation industry. If you have joined the sector, progressed up the career ladder or launched a new business or initiative in the last three years, we want to hear from you. Whether you are in development, operations, investment, agency or part of a university team, could you be our Rising Star for 2021?

The judges will be looking for the following:

  • Evidence of tangible and outstanding achievements/success over the past year (September 2020 – September 2021, please include information about any missed/ delayed completion dates due to the current situation)
  • Evidence of an innovation/bold thinking
  • Evidence of a strong market impact
  • Details of financial performance
  • Evidence of ambition Evidence of strong client focus – via testimonials preferably
  • A summary of why you think you should win this award
  • If relevant, please demonstrate how you responded to the current global health crisis that supported both the industry and student wellbeing

If you think you are a Rising Star in the industry, tell us in 750 words.

University Team of the Year

From housing management, academic support, financial advice to pastoral care, student accommodation teams have a crucial role to play in the wellbeing of students and their university experience. Please note that this category is open to university accommodation teams only, who are able to demonstrate exceptional levels of care and support to students on all their housing matters.

Entrants need to show evidence the following:

  • Compliance with the regulations set out in the Universities UK (UUK) Code of Practice for the Management of Student Housing
  • High levels of student satisfaction amongst students for support and care provided
  • Examples of initiatives and/or schemes that have enhanced the student experience
  • If relevant, please demonstrate how you responded to the current global health crisis that supported both the industry and student wellbeing

Does your team meet the criteria? If it does, tell us why in 750 words or less.

Unsung Hero

The award will go to an outstanding individual on the frontline of delivery, whose voice may not be often heard, but whose presence makes their halls a special place. From chefs, gardeners, cleaners, concierges, receptionists and other frontline staff, this accolade is for an exceptional colleague who goes an extra mile to make your halls a better place.

Tell us in 750 words or less why your colleague deserves this special accolade. Individuals nominated will need to work for halls of residence, both university-run and private halls. If relevant, please demonstrate how you responded to the current global health crisis that supported both the industry and student wellbeing.