Food, laundry, cleaning – at new-age university hostels, all facilities through apps

Specialist firms like ZoloStays and Good Host Spaces have used technology to bring a new level of convenience to private university hostels.

These organisations use technology to streamline the use of available services with students able to access them from their phones.These organisations use technology to streamline the use of available services with students able to access them from their phones.

Sheena Sachdeva | July 18, 2023 | 09:16 AM IST

NEW DELHI: Aishwarya Pande, a second-year master’s student at OP Jindal Global University, Sonipat Haryana, found the campus far more comfortable than the private college in Dehradun she had graduated from. Practically everything she can possibly need to stay on campus can be arranged for from her phone. Restaurants on campus take orders through a mobile application; another app is used to manage utilities and services like water supply and laundry.

Many private universities, including OP Jindal Global University, Sonipat and Manipal Academy of Higher Education’s (MAHE), Mangalore, Bangalore, and Udupi campuses have outsourced their student and campus facilities to organisations like Zolo Scholar, a platform of ZoloStays, and Good Hosts Spaces.

These organisations use technology to streamline the use of available services with students able to access them from their phones. Even campuses that have not outsourced their management to such firms, there are more options and facilities than older institutions could offer.

Student residences: App-based services

Student residences in OP Jindal’s Sonipat campus are managed by Good Host Spaces. For all the eating joints within the campus, students have apps to assist them in their use of the cafeteria and order food from restaurants on campus. “For mess facilities, another app is used by students which gives them a coupon for every meal where students can scan it and can take a meal. This helps in checking on the number of students and accountability,” said Pande. “Even for the maintenance part, all the rooms are cleaned as and when the notifications are received from the students. We don’t have to go around asking. It’s quite convenient.”

Access to all amenities available within the hostels ranging from laundry services and water supply is via apps. And yet another app is used for registering and redressing grievances, explained Pande.

Muskaan Thakur is a first-year BA LLB student at Shoolini University, another campus where hostels are managed by GHS. In Solan, the campus is set among pine trees and is already calm and beautiful, she said. Having cafes and restaurants on campus means she rarely needs to leave. There’s an app to order food within the hostels. Shoolini has its own app for timetables, lost and found services, announcements related to the campus and other services. “The best part of the university is that it has many cafes and all the facilities within the campus. Due to these services, students don’t have to go outside and it feels like a home here,” said Thakur.

In campuses managed by ZoloStays, right from the first day a student gets into a hostel room till they graduate, their requirements are digitally managed with limited scope of inconvenience, said Nikhil Sikri, co-founder, ZoloStays. “Just like we have many buttons on our mobile phones these days, we have brought in a life button for students on campus. We create a beautiful living experience for students across various services, communities, design, and technologies,” he said. ZoloStays currently manages hostels for 57 colleges across the country.

“We have AI-driven video analytics to generate alerts just to keep a check right from staffing to any abrupt moments that you are not expecting anywhere. We also have a daily online attendance system. Also, Zolo scholar app has all kinds of services – food, repair services, laundry, learning modules, book summaries or quizzes, ZoTribe for student engagements,” explained Sikri.

Smooth transition

When students enter hostel life, they do so with equal amounts of excitement and trepidation. “To ensure a smooth transition from school to college and home to the hostel, we start the academic year with a well-conceived orientation programme along with a student mentorship program called Hostel Buddies where third-year students mentor the first-year students along with accommodation allocated such that students from different areas are kept together,” said Mohit Bawa, Dean-Student Welfare, BML Munjal University.

In institutions managed by student housing firms, the firms help with this transition as well. “While students enter the hostels, they get onboarding modules with an entry kit. Feedback module is part of the tech stack. We usually custom build for each college on the scale of services we have and the requirements of the universities,” said Sikri from Zolo.

University Campus: Sports and leisure

Lovely Professional University’s (LPU) campus comes with indoor sports complexes, food courts, shopping centres, and recreational areas. Aman Mittal, Vice President of Lovely Professional University, said: “We understand the need for convenient transportation and experiential ways to engage with students. LPU has a shooting range, badminton, basketball, lawn-tennis courts, and gyms. There is a multipurpose hall with separate courts for different sports.” He further added: “At our gymnasium, we have different strength and cardio sections, including cross-fit exercises. The multipurpose hall caters to three professional badminton courts, a well-equipped stage, projector, music system, and many seating spaces. There is also a floodlit sports ground with a football field, cricket pitch, provision for net practice, tennis and basketball courts.”

BML Munjal University has both tower and apartment-type options for students. They can choose between single, double and triple-sharing rooms; between air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned rooms.

“Our apartment-type hostel comes with a common area where students can lounge on sofas, and this area also has a pantry equipped with a mini fridge, microwave, and electric kettle,” said Bawa. “Each hostel has a recreation room with large seating for students to watch movies. Further, we have tuck shops on the campus, which stock all the basic amenities a student might need daily. Snack vending machines are placed in each hostel to cater to those late-night hunger pangs.”

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