Studying abroad is a great opportunity and common aspiration among millions of students, especially in India. While getting into a foreign university is a matter of great pride and relief, but once the admission process is done, managing accommodation in a cost-effective manner becomes a major area of concern for students and their families.
Traditionally, students either used to opt for dorms within the university campus or look for shared and independent apartments. Many students would start looking for accommodation only after moving to their new destinations. However, several challenges make this approach unsuitable. Firstly, there are a limited number of on-campus accommodation facilities. As such, only one in six international students is accommodated in university dorms.
Further, if students look at renting apartments, a huge sum of money goes into brokerage, security, etc. Thus, numerous students have been spending much more than they ideally should only on living arrangements. This is where University Living enters into the picture. As a global student housing managed marketplace, University Living offers post-admission services to students after they finalise their city and university. The platform helps them discover, compare, shortlist and book their accommodation.
These problems were faced in a hard way by Saurabh Arora, when he, along with his friend Mayank Maheshwari went for studies in United Kingdom in 2010. The sufferings made the due find a solution in the form of “University Living”, not only for them, but for million other aspiring students who venture into a foreign land after getting admissions in prestigious universities aboard.
“University Living was conceptualised after Mayank and I had sub-par experiences while studying abroad,” said Saurabh Arora, Founder & CEO, University Living.
Describing the bitter experience there, Arora further said, “While at an exchange programme at Nottingham University, I had a tough time finding suitable accommodation. As a result, I had to book a hotel room and pay a hefty sum for around one and a half months. On the other hand, Mayank (Co-founder & COO, University Living), during his stint at Northampton University, resorted to staying with a family. He had to face several challenges and the entire experience was fractured, to say the least.”
“Thus, University Living was born. Through our state-of-the-art services, we reduce the financial burden on students, while offering them an exceptional living experience,” Arora added.
Apart from University Living, some other organisations also provide similar services, like student.com, which is an international firm based out of China with some presence in India.
With the focus primarily on Indian students studying abroad, University Living offers following facilities:
- As a managed marketplace, it provides enhanced experience and end to end solutions
- Beyond the bed services, it provides facilities like a guarantor, room essentials, room replacement, Forex, student bank account, overseas SIM and meet and greet services.
- It has an edge over other global service providers with a better understanding of Indian culture
- It also has an established network of sub-agents, domestic and international universities
- Along with online, it also has offline presence
“Here’s looking at some of the ways in which we make this happen,” explained Arora as below:
- University Living educates students to book their accommodation as early as possible. Prior to its establishment, students would wait till the last moment to book their living space. However, since pricing is dynamic in most asset classes, the cost, by this time would be too high. Dorms situated in universities would also be either fully-occupied or available at very high costs. With University Living, students are able to book their accommodation as early as six months before their actual moving date. Moreover, if students are unable to commence their course as planned due to Visa or other issues, we refund the entire amount – including the security deposit – back to them provided they cancel before a given date.
- Most accommodations for international students require a guarantor in case a student wishes to pay rent in easy monthly installments. In the absence of a guarantor, students have to pay the entire year’s amount in one go. Since this can add to the financial burden, we provide professional guarantors for the entire year. As a result, students can pay their fees through 3, 4 or even 8 monthly installments.
- In case students wish to vacate their accommodation to move in with friends or family after spending some weeks in an accommodation, we offer them replacement services. Through our tech-enabled platform, we connect these students with others who are interested in the accommodation. Through such seamless replacement services, we ensure that students can move out without additional costs, in a hassle-free manner. Moreover, since the demand for our accommodation is huge, finding replacements quickly is never an issue!
- We do not charge any brokerage or security from students and even allow them to customise their stay if they are pursuing a short-term course. Students do not have to pay for an entire year, which translates into direct savings for them.
- We offer a host of value-added services like kitchen packs, bedding packs, airport transfers and financial solutions including bank accounts that can be opened from India well before moving day.
“Simply put, we have optimised an idea where students can save money at every step. We aim to create smooth, hassle-free, end-to-end accommodation services. Studying abroad can be an enriching and enthralling experience. By taking care of these crucial aspects of moving overseas, we allow students to focus on their academics – and on having the experience of their lifetime,” said Arora.
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Source: Financial Express