Universities are gearing up for a record number of students returning this Autumn.


That means it’s more important than ever to reflect on what’s needed to create a positive experience. The subject has been made all the more difficult with the potential changes needed for a post-covid world.

While the focus is often on how to take care of students, thought must be had for the staff. The people who spend their hours ensuring that the university runs smoothly and that any issues are dealt with.

One overlooked but important piece of this puzzle is our old friend lost property. It’s easy to view as a nice to have, but a poor process can be a drain on both staff and students.

The nature of universities

To put it simply, universities are huge. They need to accommodate tens of thousands of students and often a similar amount of staff.

On top of this it is almost unheard of for the facilities to exist on one campus and the nature of campus life means students need to move between them.

The end result is often a student travelling to two or three different sites during the course of one day.

It’s important to note that we’re not just talking about lecture halls. Libraries, sports facilities and bars all make up part of the campus schedule. Taking this into account it’s unsurprising that 50% of students lose something during their time at uni resulting in 4.5 million misplaced items a year.


Implications for lost property management

So, let’s say that Sarah the student travels across three different sites in one day. She attends classes at site 1 in the morning, a seminar at site 2 in the afternoon and heads to site 3 for a cocktail at the end of it.

Midway through a well deserved Mojito she realises that she’s managed to misplace her laptop.


25% of items misplaced at university are considered high value


Not only does this cost £700 to replace, but is absolutely necessary as she needs to finish off her paper this evening. Suddenly the drink doesn’t taste so sweet.


Sarah’s search begins

Due to Sarah’s university not having software dedicated to lost property management, she needs to embark on a frustrating journey. Firstly she calls up each of the campuses to find out if anyone has handed in her laptop.

The issue here is a lack of communication, not only between sites, but between buildings within a site. It could be sitting at a lecture hall on site one, but that’s not to say the main reception would know where it is.

This could lead to a delay of days or even weeks before Sarah gets an answer. For something as important as a laptop this has serious implications for her studies as well as her mental wellbeing.


45% of students never get an item back after reporting it lost


A waste of time for university staff

On the flipside let’s say campus Karen the receptionist picks up Sarah’s lost property enquiry. She takes details of the missing laptop and then goes on the hunt to see if she can find it. Karen searches in vain across different buildings and sites. Needless to say this isn’t the best use of Karen’s time.

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How lost property management at universities should work

Using Notlost’s tailor made the process would look a little something like this.

Step 1: A member of staff finds Sarah’s laptop. They take a picture and upload it to Notlost’s secure database along with any relevant information. Our image recognition software then creates a profile for the item

Step 2: When Sarah realises that she has lost her laptop she calls up and is directed to a self service portal where she enters the details of her laptop

Step 3: Our matching tool combines her enquiry with all relevant handed in items and presents her with the correct one

Step 4: She is provided with a location to collect her laptop or can choose from a range of delivery options

In this scenario, university staff have no reason to be involved other than direct students to the self service portal. They can, however, have visibility over all handed in items. So, if need be, they can help and give an answer in minutes rather than days.

When UCL started using our software in 2019, they noticed instant results that transformed lost property enquiries for both staff and students.


How to get setup

With students returning before long it’s vital to get your lost property process in place, sooner rather than later. Despite this it’s not too late to reach out. Onboarding is quick and easy, generally taking no longer than three weeks.

Our solution is plug & play, and customisable enough to match your requirements.

Find out more

Get in touch with us on +44(0)20 8037 3970 or drop us an email . 

Plus, follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter to stay up to date with all things lost property!