CUBO Residence Life Conference

4-5 May 2023
University of Nottingham


Residence Life Conference 2023

4-5 May 2023

Residence Life Community comes together in Nottingham

The 2023 CUBO Residence Life Conference had record attendance - a sign that more universities are realising the positive impact of residence life programmes on student wellbeing and outcomes.

The conference set out to support the difficult issues reslife teams are currently facing, from the pandemic’s effect on young people’s mental health to the disproportionate impact on students of the cost of living crisis. The content throughout was challenging and informative, as we took a deep dive into mental health and wellbeing, consent education, inclusive communities, sustainability, surveys, volunteering, supporting Indian students, engaging Gen Z and keeping healthy bodies as well as minds.

The Pandemic Effect

Young people took the brunt mentally during Covid - disconnection from their social lives alongside increased anxiety, fuelled by a growth in perfectionism that creates fear of failure, of lacking purpose and letting people down. Two disorders that have seen an increase are self-harm and eating disorders - both ones where people feel in control. 

What can we do? Listen, believe and give hope. Help students to find purpose(s), try new things, build a community - and look after their sleep.

And with the NHS struggling to cope, this is a time for universities to offer more support. The residence life community needs to make a noise....

Working together to help students

Volunteering is a great way to try something new, find purpose and make friends and was explored in a case study from the University of Nottingham Student Union, whose volunteers support the reslife team in Welcome Week.

The University’s sports and accommodation/residence life have also teamed up to launch a Sport, Health and Wellbeing Package for students in halls, with the aim of creating a culture in which physical activity – a pillar of wellbeing along with creativity and relaxation, we learned from Natasha Devon MBE – is the norm. The range of activities is incredibly broad, with student experience at the heart of the project.

Unique challenges for this generation

Save the Student provided devastating statistics on the impact of the cost of living crisis, with over a third of students considering dropping out due to money worries. Individuals may want to sign their petition:  PETITION: increase Student Loans in England to match inflation - Save the Student

The complexities of consent education were explored in a session led by the University of Sheffield residence life and student welfare teams: timely as we face the real prospect of consent education becoming mandatory for university students. 

Students Organising for Sustainability reminded us how real the climate crisis is for this generation and how student-led initiatives are creating change in different universities.

Hearing and heeding the student voice

Always a highlight of the conference, the audience with the student winners of the Residence Life Star Awards did not disappoint as they shared their experience and recommendations. This year we also heard from Indian students in a session led by Campuslife on supporting this growing community of international students. WAU Agency shared tips on meaningful surveys and Voxburner gave a masterclass in communicating with Gen Z. And Black People Talk showed how the lived experience is so important and how we need to recruit more black staff into reslife.

Residence life Star Awards

On the evening of 4 May, the annual Residence Life Star Awards celebrated the student and professional stars of 2023, with Natalie Cherry from the University of Leeds winning CUBO-Acuho-I Residence Life New Professional of the Year and six outstanding students winning individual awards. The residence life community as a whole was commended and recognised for the incredible work done every day to support students in university and private residences. A breath-taking performance by The University of Nottingham Bhangra Society rounded off an inspirational evening.



A truly wonderful conference experience. Sessions were at the forefront of what is going on with our students and within the sector. A fabulous community of fellow Res Life professionals who respect, support, and encourage each other. I look forward to this every year and this year was absolutely the best yet.

Elizabeth Russell, Residence Life Manager, Cardiff University

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