University shouldn’t be a worrying experience for students and their parents, but often it is — with news stories circulating the internet highlighting the dangers and making us question the safety of the new intake of students. For example, a video that went viral earlier this year recorded students at Nottingham Trent University chanting racist comments in front of the door of another student in their university accommodation.
Causing outrage on social media after going viral, the video recorded by Rufaro Chisango was an eye opener for accommodation providers. Thankfully, with the advancements in technology and the implementation of access control systems in university halls, Rufaro was physically safe from any threat. But now, security measures must be higher to ensure that this type of behaviour, or risk, does not happen again.
The team here at 2020 Vision have worked on similar projects with universities — including the integration of access control solutions with the University of Birmingham. With over 30,000 students and 6,000 doors across accommodation campuses, our security experts were tasked with providing operational continuity in a bid to create a safe and secure environment for residents.
A recent accommodation development, Chamberlain, consists of a 19-storey tower and three low-rise blocks. Timothy Owen, General Manager of Student Accommodation at the University of Birmingham commented: “We wanted to move away from using keys as students are prone to losing them and trying to manage thousands of locks and associated keys was a constant administration and financial drain.”
The complex was made up of both old and new builds, meaning that the requirements set out were quite unique in comparison to our other projects. With Gallagher Command Centre and Aperio wireless locking technology by ASSA ABLOY Access Control, we were able to integrate both student identification with their access keys to create one card that would deliver benefits to both students and staff.
Universities do have a duty of care to their students and have to follow safeguarding requirements. Through access control technology, universities can begin to monitor the whereabouts people on a daily basis and understand who comes in and who goes out of the building. For further information, read the full University of Birmingham case study today.
There have been undeniable benefits since installing our systems in the University of Birmingham. But why should other universities be following suit and begin implementing such solutions? We take a further look:
The importance of access control systems in university accommodation
With two main functionality types on access control systems, they can be tailored towards protecting people or organisations. The first has a more basic yet effective approach and can enable or prevent someone from entering or exiting a location — this could range from the whole site, a wing of a building, or a singular room that needs protecting from unauthorised personnel.
The alternative enables internal systems to monitor movement across the premises which can help provide reliable data trails, traceability and compliance from users. It can also detect any areas where improvements could be necessary.
With access control systems becoming a more common practice across the UK; it’s crucial to understand that controlled areas can only be accessed through valid credentials such as key cards and identification tags. The purpose of having such security measures in place is to help protect students from unauthorised access, which could potentially threaten their wellbeing or put their possessions at risk.
As university accommodation fees continue to grow in cost, students have the right to have high expectations when moving in to ensure their own safety; more importantly so when they’re living in a block with strangers. According to a survey carried out by Save The Student, the average cost of renting is £131 per week, which leaves students with £8 to live on after deducting the payment from their maintenance loan.
As this is a big change for many young people, students should not feel vulnerable when they move into a new home which they believe should be completely safe. Although university culture does play a large part on student life, excessive and unordinary behaviour is not acceptable. It was found that 52% of students have noisy housemates, 37% of housemates steal food (considered as theft), 8% have dangerous living conditions, and an astonishing 6% have experienced a break in or a burglary.
With this, we found that one in three people are dissatisfied with their accommodation and feel it’s not good value for the cost. Now, there is a demand for larger investments into suffering areas — accommodation providers are under extreme amounts of pressure to make changes otherwise they could encounter detrimental damages that will impact them in the long run.
The advantages of access control
Critical thinking is essential when it comes to implementing security systems on a university campus/the associated accommodation building; as well as this, there are countless benefits that come with it. Evidently from the story above discussing the racist chants, it has become critical to ensure the safety and protection of young people as unsolicited actions can be carried out without any prior detection.
When applying for a room at a university accommodation, providers are becoming more willing to allow prospecting students to properly filter their room type including preferences like loud/quiet flat, undergraduate/postgraduate and gender. However, there are still many faults. Universities should be looking at implementing more personal options that enable young people to properly filter down the type of roommates they are looking for — such as language, religion and more to create a safer and more familiar environment for all.
Interested in learning some of the key benefits of access control systems? Read more…
Disabling Key Cards — Once a student has moved out of the accommodation, and in the event that the key card has not been returned, providers can actually disable key cards. This removes the risk of any unauthorised entry and heightens the safety of the new tenant after the previous lease is up.
No Entry — Building blocks, apartments, and private rooms will be properly secured from unauthorised personnel when introducing access control systems. As they require the swipe of a unique key card for entry permissions which are given only to students, this will make it difficult for anyone other those who are enrolled as residents to enter.
Monitoring — Keeping track of who comes into the premises and who goes out is often something that traditional security methods fail to do correctly, and it isn’t always reliable. Using access control systems and key cards, this can all be documented and easily accessed when needed.
Restricted Access — This is an essential part to any access control systems, as security workers can actually restrict the access of some cards, allowing for only specific entry times. This is particularly useful when it comes to accommodation employees such as cleaners, as their key cards can be matched with their shift patterns.
Advanced Credentials — As the world moves forward with enhanced technological developments, access control has become part of the revolution. Students in particular are avid users of smartphones and now, locked areas can be accessed through the use of such device as credentials are able stored safely; this is an extremely important new feature as smartphones are very rarely out of the hands of young people.
Enhanced security is essential across university accommodation here in the UK and can even be utilised for invacuation and dynamic lockdown processes in a bid to create a safer living environment for young students. This can also help reduce the risks that come with fast-moving incidents (firearm attacks etc).
Are you ready to make the appropriate changes to guarantee safety? You can’t put a price on it.