The Residence Life Phenomenon in England

  • Caroline Dawn Chipperfield

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Business (DBA)


This thesis explores the 'Residence Life' phenomenon and investigates the factors and drivers for its development in the context of the English higher education sector.
The research for this study included a detailed investigation of Residence Life through the review of a broad range of literature, using both academic and grey sources to ascertain the main features and drivers in the creation, and proliferation of this phenomenon. The research also incorporated a survey of practitioners from across the higher education sector and conducted a deeper analysis, through a series of interviews, into the manifestation of phenomenon in three English institutions. The key findings from the study are:
1. The term Residence Life is in common usage across the English higher education sector and represents a paradigm shift in the consideration of residential accommodation from that of a material building, housing students, to one where accommodation is at the heart of community-building and wellbeing.
2. That, due to the unique residential nature of UK higher education, student accommodation is integral to the university experience and student success. Despite the popularity of the residential university model, the Residence Life phenomenon manifests in institutions differently due to several factors including the ownership and availability of student accommodation, the strategy of the institution, the staffing structure and how the programme is funded.
3. The Residence Life phenomenon is part of the management toolbox in the mitigation of risk for universities. Residence Life contributes to an institution’s financial stability, supporting universities in student recruitment, retention and student success; developing partnerships; and managing reputation, Residence Life and accommodation play a strategic role in a university’s decision-making process.
On the basis of the research findings, a series of Residence Life models, developed for English universities is presented and a systems-level typology is proposed. The study recommends that these models are adopted by institutions in order to build understanding of the purpose and potential of Residence Life programmes and secure effective alignment with institutional missions.
Date of Award27 Apr 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorKendall Jarrett (Supervisor)


  • Residence Life
  • Accommodation
  • Belonging
  • Student development
  • Students as customers
  • student experience
  • student retention
  • Higher Education
  • higher education institutions
  • organisational positioning
  • Living-learning communities
  • Purpose Built Student Accommodation
  • Residential curriculum
  • Student Engagement
  • student choice
  • Student engagement
  • Student mental health
  • learning environment
  • learning spaces
  • Learning theories
  • Student accommodation
  • Universities as businesses
  • university dropout
  • University management
  • University Policy
  • Higher Education policy
  • university strategy
  • university performance
  • higher education drivers
  • organisational change
  • Sense of Belonging
  • Friendship making
  • Mental Health
  • Student journey
  • student voice
  • student identity
  • student transition
  • adjustment
  • loneliness
  • student attrition
  • Student mental health charter
  • Generation Z
  • generation cohort theory

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