Spotlight on Mariana Ulanowicz, SCL International College

Tell us a bit about your role and how it supports the business?

Stay Campus & The Stay Club are part of an amazing project in London, with 4 campuses (and 2 more to come), where thousands of students from the UK and abroad, live, study, and have fun, all in one place.

As part of my job, I develop relationships with agents, schools and universities who help us build up this community. It also involves planning strategies, creating the right programmes and providing a high-quality service to meet our students’ and partners’ expectations.

As an education and accommodation provider, we are part of the whole student journey: we recruit the students, deliver the courses, host them in our residences and take care of them at every step of the way. This is as challenging and fascinating as it can be, and we achieve it thanks to an incredible team of professionals and experienced people working in many different areas. That is why my role is so varied and dynamic; plus we keep growing and growing, so you can never get bored!

What has been your career highlight to date?

The Stay Club was a very small company when I joined, so seeing now how we have grown and become one of the best student accommodation providers and a successful language school and further education college in London is, no doubt, a great achievement that has given me lots of satisfaction and very good friends.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

‘If you think you can, you might. If not, you never will.’ That is why I always try to be positive and find the best outcome of any difficult situation. Super helpful in the last few months, as you can imagine.

If you were not working in this sector what other industry would you have pursued a career in?

I have a strong passion for teaching, so I would have probably chosen something around that, on subjects such as English, Grammar, or Sports.

What are the emerging trends within your sector?

Foundation programmes and other pathways are vital for international students who are dreaming of studying in the UK. Moreover, as they are long term courses, they are less affected by quarantine and travel restrictions. The interest is growing, and we are getting ready to welcome a good number of students in our next intakes.

Regarding accommodation, I think that students now tend to stay more in single options and Stay Campus self-contained studios with a private bathroom and kitchenette are considered to be a safe option and good value for money. Even more when they see it includes access to all our premium facilities, gym, cinema… plus all the benefits and discounts they get from our partnerships and event programme.

Finally, our campus solution is becoming key now. More partners and colleagues are approaching us, not only for their interest in the accommodation, but also for our classrooms and social spaces, to use The Stay Club as their campus extension.

What is coming up for your company in the next 12/18 months?

We are soon opening a new building in North Acton, which will be followed by another one in Hanger Lane 2022/23.

We have signed a new partnership with Watford Community Sports & Education Trust to provide training to international students with our new English and Football Academy summer programme.

Each student receives individual attention both in the classroom with football-themed language classes, and on the pitch with football coaching and practice in Watford’s official grounds by their registered coaches.

We are looking forward to a more positive summer and new academic year.

Covid-19 has had a huge impact on our industry, what is the one thing that you have learnt personally or professionally during this time?

I’ve learnt to value even more the relationship with my team, clients and colleagues, and this has kept me motivated during these unprecedented times.

In addition, at The Stay Club we tried to get involved in other businesses to keep the ball rolling at the worst times, so I learnt a lot professionally as well.

As we head towards recovery what do you think the challenges and opportunities are for our sector?

While travelling restrictions are still a challenge, the self-contained studios and the campus solution become a unique advantage for our students and the opportunity to offer a safe and beneficial experience while studying language, pathways, or university courses in London.

How do you think Covid-19 will change our industry (if at all)?

Virtual communication among clients and even team members will remain in the new normal. As much as we miss the office and the big fairs, there is an element of getting to know anyone anywhere that we will probably want to keep.

Equally, the blended approach in teaching lets us reach and help more students all over the world.

Having said that, I strongly believe in the importance and great value of face-to-face communication in business and education.

Find out more about BETA member SCL International College here

Published 01 May 2021