University Lifestyle Survey

University students

Sodexo has provided catering, accommodation and facilities management services to the higher education sector for 50 years. As a strategic partner to our university clients across the UK and Ireland we focus on improving student experience through integrated services that promote quality of life.

Sodexo first undertook the University Lifestyle Survey in April 2004 and has subsequently undertaken the research every two years. The purpose of the survey is to identify and track trends in key non-academic areas of university life as experienced by undergraduate students. The findings provide Sodexo with valuable insight into students’ lives and lifestyles which enables us to provide better services.

For the first time in its 14 year history, in response to a more global higher education sector, we have conducted the survey on a worldwide basis, polling over 4,000 students in six markets around the world (the US, China, India, Spain and Italy, as well as the UK).

2017 International University Lifestyle report:


Download the report


Introduction from Paul Anstey, CEO, Sodexo Universities, UK and Ireland, Benelux and the Nordics

Paul Anstey, CEO, Sodexo Universities, Uk and ireland, Benelux and the NordicsAgainst the backdrop of uncertainty in the UK higher education sector - as universities adapt to the introduction of the TEF, the uncertainties of Brexit, a more competitive global higher education marketplace and the a fall in UCAS applications for the first time in five years - Sodexo’s first International University Lifestyle Survey provides a unique insight into the lives and lifestyles of students across the world.

More than five million students study outside their home countries. That is double the 2.1 million who did so in 2000 and more than triple the number from 1990. According to the OECD, the UK attracts more international students than any other country outside of the USA (10.3% and 19.4% of the world’s international student population respectively) and the UK has the most satisfied international students.

As a proud provider to UK universities, who are endeavouring to maintain that competitive position in international higher education, the insight provided by the survey is valuable to ensure we continue to deliver services which contribute to the diverse needs of global students and ultimately improve their quality of life.

For the first time we have based the survey on the resident life, taking participants through the key touchpoints of the student experience:  pre-arrival, arrival, living and departure.  The data we have obtained can absolutely support universities in positioning students at the core of their strategic objective.

So what can we learn from the 2017 results? On the positive side it is really encouraging to see that UK students are interested in the wider experience that university can offer and still see higher education as social experience, as well as simply the next step into the workplace. It is vital that we support you, our university clients, to offer more fluid and flexible spaces, where students can come together to learn, collaborate and socialise.

More worrying are the findings that point to a rise in mental health concerns for UK students and genuine concerns about loneliness, all of which are fuelling an increase in the number of students dropping out. In our Student Living by Sodexo accommodation business we are increasingly focusing on the ways we can support students to settle well into university and to provide the necessary support and signposting of university pastoral care if we can see that a student is finding life hard.

We hope you find the survey interesting and insightful. I would welcome the opportunity to talk to you about the findings and how we can support you and your students with our quality of life services.


The Sodexo University Lifestyle Survey contains information from over 2,000 students from 148 higher education institutions in response to over 40 questions. This infographic provides a concise summary of the key findings.

Summary of the 2016 survey findings

2016 University Lifestyle Survey

UniLifestyle-brochure2016-cover.pngSodexo, in association with Times Higher Education, conducts a biennial survey to help identify and track trends in key-non-academic areas of university life experienced by students.  The survey provides us with a detailed analysis of the student experience.