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An Alko and a pharmacy – responses to a Student Village service needs survey

The board of the Turku Student Village Foundation decided, in connection with the preparation of the strategy for 2019, to carry out a survey of Student Village residents on services other than those provided by the foundation. The survey was commissioned from Projektiässät in the spring of 2019. Projektiässät is a multidisciplinary training aimed at Turku higher education students that offers challenging customer projects and project management experience.

The survey was carried out in the summer of 2019. The survey was sent to Student Village residents by email in early August, and was additionally marketed on social media and, for example, on the Aitiopaikka information board. The questionnaire was sent to around 3500 residents and 615 residents responded to it. The sample can be considered representative.

The aim of the study was to investigate what services residents wish to have in the Student Village and how willing they are to share spaces with other residents. Another goal was to examine whether residents are interested in paying for better services.

Above all, the respondents wanted more grocery shops and bars.

”In my view, a small commercial centre would fit in with the Student Village, and there would certainly be demand for it, as well. Caribia, though, is completely separate and its services don’t feel like they’re part of the Student Village. The commercial centre could, for example, have a  grocery shop, an Alko, some appealing pub that is branded toward students, a TSVF office, an Otto ATM and a Subway/something similar.”

Additional exercise facilities were also called for. ”The Student Village is good in my opinion, but I was disappointed when I looked up on a map that there’s a basketball & volleyball court, but when I took a live look at the place, it turned out to be a gravel site that has been turned into a car park. It would be great if you added a basketball and volleyball court, as well as a mini golf course.”

To most respondents, privacy was more important than a sense of community, except if they knew in advance the persons with whom they were to share spaces. ”The greatest turnoff in shared flats is the uncertainty over one’s flatmates. If this uncertainty were removed, a shared flat would immediately be a more tenable alternative.”

The quietness of the area was perceived as a pull factor. Some of the respondents specifically wished not to have more services added to the area. ”The Student Village is already a working whole as it is, adding services does not automatically mean an improvement in residential comfort. When I come home from work/studies, I specifically want to come home, not to a party central where there are party places, restaurants and other general places to hang around and fashionable pop-up events. One can find that in the centre if one is so inclined.”

As to the rent levels, slightly more respondents desired lower rents rather than better services. Indeed, interest in affordable housing is clearly one reason to choose the Student Village as one’s residential locality.  Some would, however, be prepared to pay slightly higher rent in order to access more comprehensive services. The authors of the survey concluded that better services could also attract applicants to move to the Student Village.

It was also interesting to note that the responses were evenly divided when a choice was asked to be made between price and the location and quality of services. The location of services was perceived as a more important variable than price, though. When they were asked to choose between a sense of community, common events and shared spaces and privacy, a peaceful area and one’s own spaces, most respondents chose privacy and peace.

The Projektiässät team that implemented the service needs survey consisted of four students: Ilmari Helva, Laura Laaksonen, Anika Zabeen, Sanni Ranta.

9 ”köökkikiikari” binoculars were drawn among all participants in the study. The winners have been personally notified.

The quotes are from the open answers of the service needs survey.