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Buyer's Guide

by Taylor Short,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: March 24, 2017


Although student housing software includes standard accounting, maintenance and tenant and lease management functions, it tends to focus less on basic features of most systems and more on the unique requirements of a student housing situation. These include maximizing room occupancy, managing room and roommate preferences, integrating with campus systems and storing additional information for the parent/payer.

Common Features of Student and University Housing Software

Room selection management In student housing, rooms often have two or four residents per room. Rather than splitting up one room into four separate units, student housing software will treat each resident individually. Some student housing software will even have roommate matching features, allowing staff or students to search for eligible roommates by lifestyle to minimize conflict down the line.
Student/parent profile management Since a student’s parent or guardian is usually involved in at least the payment, if not other parts of their housing experience, university housing software should support storing information not just for the resident, but for their parent as well. This information may include permanent address, parents’ details, photos and even class information.
Integration with campus systems Oftentimes, student housing is tied to meal plans, utilities or class schedules. A student housing program should ideally integrate with the university’s other software programs to facilitate the transfer of necessary information.
Additional service plans This system will incorporate additional items, such as meal plans, internet service, cable TV, telephone and extracurricular activities, into the university housing software. This enables fees to be incorporated and paid all at once.
Student portal Some of the more advanced student housing software programs will allow administrators to configure a student portal, enabling students to look up assignments or other personal information. Using this portal, students can conduct much of the application, payment and room selection processes online.
Incident management The software can also help track and report policy violations or conduct incidents from the initial report through investigation, including any student sanctions or appeals. This feature will have step-by-step, user-defined categories specific to the institution’s method of handling student conduct incidents.

Expected Benefits of Student and University Housing Software

  1. Save costs and administrative time via online applications: Modern housing solutions offer online platforms for students to submit their housing applications and select their preferences from a list of available options. This approach benefits both students and universities by reducing paperwork and time required to process documents for room approvals.
  2. Facilitate paperless approvals: Universities and colleges receive thousands of hostel/room applications when an academic term starts. Manually processing all these paper-based application forms is a tedious task and may even require the efforts of the entire workforce to accept applications, review them, approve/reject them and address inquiries. These challenges can be addressed by an online student and housing solution that transforms the traditional paper-based application process into a paper-free one. Using the software, universities can save all the application forms in a central location and speed up the approval/rejection process. Students are also able to submit their requirements or queries online and track their application status with a unique application code.
  3. Centralize information: The primary advantage of using a dedicated student housing solution is its ability to create a single, central repository for the entire student and university database. Universities can create student databases, record expenses, manage accounts, bill damages and do much more within a single solution. Such a solution streamlines information so that staff members don't have to maintain separate files for different data categories. Also, users can access information from the database in just a few clicks.
  4. Generate add-on revenue: Some university housing software offers inbuilt online shopping platforms where universities can sell products, such as bedding packs, daily essentials, stationery and toiletries. While such features provide time-saving convenience to students, they also help universities add a new revenue stream.
  5. Live attendance tracking: Another feature of this software is its ability to track the presence of students on university premises. A few solutions are capable of integrating with various biometric devices or swipe card machines to capture students' check-in and check-out times. This helps with recording attendance automatically and restricts any illegal access on school premises.

Key Considerations for Student and University Housing Software/

While choosing the software that answers all your needs can be challenging, there is no doubt that the right solution will reduce manual efforts and tedious tasks. On the other hand, using the wrong software can slow down work and frustrate your staff. It’s vital that you list your requirements before you start shopping for a solution.

Here are some key considerations that can help you identify top solutions to match your requirements:

Business size: School and university housing software is all about managing the number of rooms and students in them. Some vendors offer solutions that are specific to the needs of small and midsized education institutions, while others serve large institutions that have multiple franchises worldwide. If you’re a first-time student and university housing software user, we recommend going for a solution that can help you scale up as your business grows in the future.

Deployment architecture: Based on the type of solution, universities and colleges can opt for on-premise deployment or cloud-based deployment. On-premise deployment is when the solution and its supporting infrastructure is installed at the local premises, while cloud-based deployment or the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model installs everything at vendor premises. This allows users to access the solution remotely on a connected mobile device or desktops.

Currently, most software vendors offer their services in the cloud as it’s cost effective in the long run as well as cheaper to deploy. If you’re a small or midsized housing facility owner, go for a cloud-based solution since you won’t need to invest heavily in IT. Also, post deployment, the service is ready for use in just a few hours. On the other hand, if you are a large institution or multi-chain education franchise with extensive in-house IT resources, go for on-premise deployment. It requires a one-time investment and gives users full control over their data.

Integration capability: This is defined as combining multiple applications to run as a complete system. The ideal school and university housing software should be capable of integrating with other academic applications, such as student information system (SIS), accounting software, online registration portals, single sign-on interfaces, campus portals and meal planning tools. This integrated environment can help institutions boost their overall IT functionality and sync data between multiple applications in real time.

So, as a school and university housing software buyer, make sure your shortlisted solution addresses the above considerations and meets all your requirements.

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