Learning Zone weight restrictions deny students access


Broken Door - Ben Robins
Broken Door - Lizzie Houghton

The Learning Zone’s Air Lock doors have proved problematic in their first few weeks of use, with an enforced weight restriction frequently denying students entry.

The doors, situated at the end of the Zone closest to University House, were originally restricted to users weighing less than eighteen stone. They are the only means of access to the Zone after the automatic doors are locked at 5.00 pm.

Difficulties for disabled students

The weight restriction has meant that disabled students have faced difficulties trying to access the Zone: students confined to wheelchairs have been among those discriminated against.

Access for disabled students had been considered likely to cause problems ever since the Learning Zone opened. However, LUSU VP (Academic Affairs) Danny Ovens said that “solutions are being considered at the moment regarding this issue in the Learning Zone Users Group” of which he is a member.

Alerting the University of problems has also proved difficult. According to Ovens, the button which a student, when stuck, should press to call for help “is not connected to anything.”

When asked about the faulty alarm system, Patrick Montague, Service Desk Manager of ISS, reassured SCAN that “phones are being placed in both air lock doors to call security.” He also remarked that “a push to open button from within the Zone and live CCTV” are to be installed.


The restriction was initially enforced to prevent theft of the Zone’s equipment and to stop more than one student from using the doors at the same time. It has in fact denied entry to a number of students who use the doors appropriately, issuing the potentially embarrassing message “one person at a time”. The restriction was increased to 21 stone, but with the continuation of the same problem has now been taken off.

Louisa Duff, Communications Officer for Facilities, who apologised for the inconveniences that have arisen.

“Overall we have had some really positive feedback from students using the Learning Zone,” said “Work is currently being undertaken to make it clearer and easier to use.”

Patrick Montague added

“Although it’s early days, if success is measured by popularity, the Learning Zone looks like a success story in the making, ISS and Facilities are working hard to resolve the Zone’s access problems.”

There is a general consensus among staff that echoes Montague’s verdict.

Students interested in making a comment on the Learning Zone can do so through an online questionnaire being run by Ovens and Torri Crapper, LUSU VP (Equality, Welfare and Diversity) whose details will be included in ‘Squeak’ for Week 6.

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