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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.