Smart Student Living '24 Takeaways: Part 3

March 13, 2024


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Challenge 2: Integrating Systems for Translator Efficiency

The next challenge we tackled at the event was how do we optimise day-to-day operations through seamless system integration and effective data utilisation. The focus revolves around addressing the challenges faced by translators in managing various systems and maximising the use of data to improved efficiency and accuracy in their work.

Keeping this mind, we were presented with 2 pitches and a panel discussion by tech laders as we attempt decode the complexities of translator workflows and uncover the power of data-driven solutions to revolutionise the industry:


Idea 1: Simplifying and Enhancing Payment Experiences in PBSA

Introduction: Flywire and StarRez have collaborated to address the challenges faced by international students for payments of their university and accommodation fees within the education sector. By streamlining payment experiences and operational efficiency, this proposal aims to revolutionise the way payments are handled, benefiting universities, investors, and students alike.

Positive Aspects of the Proposal:

  • Simplified Payment Experiences: Flywire offers a digital solution that consolidates various payment methods into one platform, catering to the preferences of PBSAs and students.
  • Real-Time Tracking: The proposal ensures easy real-time tracking of payments from initiation to delivery, providing transparency and peace of mind to all stakeholders.
  • Seamless Integration: Flywire's compatibility with PCI standards and ability to integrate with systems like StarRez ensures a smooth implementation process without disrupting existing operations.
  • Diverse Payment Options: The proposal allows for the inclusion of local methods for direct debit, credit/debit cards, e-wallets, and both domestic and international payment options, offering flexibility to users.  
  • Cost Savings: By eliminating intermediary fees and providing competitive exchange rates, the proposal aims to reduce costs for both PBSAs and students, enhancing financial efficiency.

Potential Challenges and Bottlenecks:

  • Balancing Payment Options: Offering multiple payment methods while ensuring simplicity and user-friendliness could pose a challenge, requiring careful consideration of user preferences and needs.
  • Compliance and Integration Hurdles: Navigating compliance requirements and integrating systems seamlessly may require significant effort and resources, especially across different geographical regions. Moreover, maintaining data privacy and security while sharing necessary information with Flywire poses additional complexities that need to be addressed.
  • Operational Burden: While the proposal aims to alleviate operational burdens for PBSA operators, ensuring smooth implementation and ongoing maintenance without disruptions could be challenging.
  • International Student Payment Difficulties: Addressing the unique challenges faced by international students, such as tracking support, diverse payment methods, and transaction fees, requires tailored solutions and support. Handling refunds efficiently and securely is also essential, especially considering the cross-border nature of transactions and varying refund policies across regions.  

Conclusion: Flywire and StarRez's proposal offers a promising solution to the payment challenges faced by PBSAs by enhancing efficiency, transparency, and cost savings. However, addressing potential challenges such as compliance, data privacy, integration, and user experience will be crucial for success and seamless use. With careful planning and collaboration, this proposal has the potential to revolutionise payment processes in the PBSA sector, benefiting all stakeholders involved.

Idea 2: Reimagining Student Living with AI - What are its use cases?

Lavanda's innovative approach to incorporating AI in operations holds significant promise for transforming the industry. By leveraging AI technologies, Lavanda aims to streamline processes, enhance communication, and ultimately improve the overall student experience.

Positive Aspects of the Proposal:

  • Time-Saving Benefits: Lavanda suggests that AI solution practical benefits such as time-saving and centralised communication, enabling more efficient operations.
  • Transparent AI Use Cases: The company focuses on transparent AI use cases, particularly in customer service and marketing, aiming to enhance customer experience and operational efficiency.
  • Enhanced Customer Experience: By implementing AI, Lavanda seeks to provide a faster and more efficient customer experience, with the aim to provide quick resolutions and increase satisfaction levels.
  • Centralised Communication: The proposal emphasises on centralised communication, ensuring consistency and clarity in interactions with students and stakeholders.

Potential Challenges and Bottlenecks:

  • Deskilling of Team Members: There is a challenge of potential deskilling among team members as AI takes on more tasks, leading to a loss of skills and confidence.
  • Risk of Overdependence on AI: There's a risk of depending too heavily on AI solutions, which may affect accuracy and personal approach if not fed with correct sources.
  • Reliable Collaborators and Partners: Keeping up with reliable collaborators and partners poses a difficulty, along with the challenge of gaining expertise and securing funding in a relatively new field.
  • Ethical Considerations: Questions regarding ethics and bias in AI use cases need to be addressed, especially concerning data privacy and ensuring fair treatment of users.

In conclusion, Lavanda's proposal illuminates the transformative potential of AI in the realm of student living and translation services.  While offering significant benefits such as time-saving and enhanced communication, challenges such as potential deskilling, overdependence on AI, and ethical considerations must be carefully navigated. It's crucial to recognise that AI serves as a means to an end rather than an end in itself. While AI can significantly enhance efficiency and effectiveness, it should always complement and support the human element.

Panel Discussion: Synergy in Property Management Systems: Integration and Data Transfer

The panel discussion featured esteemed leaders from Yardi, Rezpage, Powerhouse, and Salesforce, offering insights into the integration and data transfer challenges within property management systems (PMS). Key topics covered include the evolving role of PMS, the importance of integration with other tech applications, and the flexibility required to adapt to shifting industry landscapes. Here is a quick overview of the key topics:

  • Evolution of PMS: The discussion highlighted that PMS is no longer the sole controller (the spinal cord) but an integral part of the property management ecosystem, emphasising the need for it to integrate with other tech applications.
  • Integration Challenges: Panellists addressed the challenges associated with system-to-system communication and emphasised the importance of flexible solutions capable of accommodating various vendor platforms.
  • AI Adoption: Insights were shared regarding AI adoption and its potential to enhance operational efficiency when properly moulded from an early stage.
  • Data Privacy and Agreements: Panellists stressed the significance of data privacy agreements and the importance of ensuring data remains within the system while facilitating seamless communication.
  • Adaptability to Industry Shifts: The discussion underscored the necessity for PMS to accommodate industry shifts, such as operators transitioning between different asset types like BTR and PBSA.
  • Agile Integration: Panellists discussed the agility required for system integration, underscoring the ability to swap components efficiently to meet evolving business needs without extensive reliance on external vendors.
  • API Usage and Priorities: The conversation delved into the utilisation of APIs, highlighting the importance of leveraging standardised small APIs for enhanced flexibility and prioritising development efforts based on client needs and feedback.

Overall, the panel discussion provided valuable insights into the complexities of PMS integration and data management, underlining the importance of flexibility, collaboration, and adaptability in navigating property management systems.


The Smart Student Living 2024 brought together industry leaders, tech innovators, and stakeholders and was a testament to the power of collaboration and innovation in addressing the diverse needs of student living environments. Through workshops, pitches of innovative solutions, case studies, and panel discussions, PBSA industry leaders and tech luminaries explored solutions to key challenges such as optimising the customer journey streamlining day-to-day operations and integrating systems for translator efficiency.

The proposals presented by tech organisations showcased the potential of technology to transform various aspects of operations and data management and use. However, each proposal also highlighted potential challenges and bottlenecks, ranging from privacy concerns to adoption hurdles and ethical considerations. What can we as an industry collectively do to fine-tune these ideas?  

Key insights from the event emphasised the importance of standardisation, strategic planning in harnessing the full potential of technology, the need for flexibility, collaboration, and adaptability in navigating the complexities of integration and data management. Moreover, ensuring interoperability among platforms was underscored as vital by Frank Uffen, co-founder of The Class Foundation. He emphasised the need for platforms to speak to each other seamlessly, catering to the needs of both students and investors. Crafting a cohesive ecosystem where various platforms harmonise is essential for fostering enhanced experiences and greater efficiency for all stakeholders.

As the industry moves forward, it's clear that collaboration and innovation will be key drivers of progress. The event stressed the importance of breaking down silos; operators must adopt a holistic view of the customer journey, prioritise initiatives, and identify collaboration opportunities to enhance the student experience seamlessly. Further, collaboration for end-to-end solutions becomes imperative.  Standardisation of technology and operations, along with careful consideration of ethical implications and privacy concerns, will be essential in maturing the market and transforming stakeholders through technology.

Lastly, as we embrace AI for data optimisation and operational enhancements, it's imperative to maintain human oversight and ensure that the unique capabilities of human translators are preserved. By striking a balance between AI capabilities and human expertise, we can unlock the full potential of technology while retaining the invaluable human touch in our interactions and services

As we conclude Smart Student Living 2024, reflecting on the invaluable insights shared during the event, it's clear that collaboration, innovation, and standardisation are key to driving progress in the student living sector. Moving forward, The Class Foundation and its community would aim for stakeholders to actively engage in collaborative initiatives aimed at implementing the learnings from this event. By working together and leveraging technology effectively, we can pave the way for a transformative future in student living. What would you like the next steps to be?

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