Accommodation: The quest for independence

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With the recent debate on provision of accommodation for first years, (ie there doesn’t seem to be enough of it), a few factors seem to be rearing their ugly heads in light of this issue. Namely why aren’t second years encouraged to go off campus and why are international students guaranteed three years of continuous accommodation on campus?

Some years ago it was normal policy that unless you had disabilities or special needs you had to find yourself somewhere in town for your second year. Obviously in third year many students back on campus due to the pressures of finals etc. Now it seems accommodation for all three years is being pushed to students as the norm. We only have to see the experiment in extinguishing any form of independence through the meal and accommodation scheme.

In fact the fear that starts to emerge is that students becoming home birds, revolving around their kitchen (and lets be honest, with the price of beer on campus, most are buying from the supermarket and drinking indoors) not experiencing town beyond a night at the Sugarhouse. Being able to live in and commute from town should be seen as something of an obstacle to overcome, even a challenge, but some students seem to shirk away from such things.

With many first years having to spend their first days at Lancaster this year commuting another question begs answering: why should overseas undergraduate students be secured accommodation for the duration of their stay at Lancaster? Surely there should be an equal playing field for all students, no matter what their origin?

In fact, many of them would benefit greatly from living in town for their second year, and certainly expand their cultural experience of British life, and assist in widening their English acquisition. The University should also be aware that this favouritism only builds up resentment, when there is no need if an equal policy was enacted. At the end of the day, any fool can see that it’s about money, and that to secure it, and the University have to make certain promises, even if this is at the detriment to the student. But if first years are being denied a place when they are most vulnerable, then we do have a problem, and possibly one the University should address before October arrives again.

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3 Comments

  1. I can understand Accomodation for the International Students, because to be honest if I was coming from another country and have to sort out visa’s and paperwork – not to mention arrange for your stuff to be delivered to a known place on campus the last thing I would want to be worried about is finding a place off campus as well.

    The thing I am annoyed with is, the fact that the University emailed people in Chancellors Wharf (which is off campus) if they could give up their room to accomodate freshers. It used to be Chancellors Wharf for 2nd + years only.

    I think if people want to stay on campus it is fine in my eyes, but the fact is the University estimated the numbers wrong and it should be the University paying the price not the freshers who have been struggling to find accomodation.

  2. I think O’Malley has hit the nail right on the head here.

    Unfortunately the previous comment about it being daunting for international students living off campus in their second year is simply a myth; for many of them English their first or second language anyway, and they’ve had a year to ‘acclimatise’ to the surroundings. Furthermore, it goes back to the old saying, ‘you only get out, what you put in’, if you’re paying the current rate of between £9-10K a year (for Int. students) to study, you sure as hell might want to find out what’s going on in your own back yard.

    The simple problem with campus is that it has become a ‘bubble’; this representation hasn’t been helped by the reduced bus service timetable on a Sunday or Sunday trading hours in town. It seems students are willing to sacrifice learning and experience for convenience, to the detriment of first years, especially international students.

  3. I honestly cannot believe the article I just read. English is simply not the majority of the international students first/mother language – it is their second. But this is besides the point. The university has to guarantee an international student three years accommodation because on the whole – they have no family in the UK – or maybe even the EU. They have no-where to go if anything goes wrong or accommodation falls through – the university has to have accommodation for them at all times. Now whether they take this service is up to the individual student. I know many international students that do live in town and many that chose to be on campus to make their lives easier – as being in a foreign country away from home is hard enough without having to commute everyday. I know many students from S.E.A. choose UK institutions based on table rankings and it being a respected course. They do not necessarily choose a university based on the town or to experience the “British” way of life. This is industry standard – all UK universities offer this – which might tell you something – it is pretty important!

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