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Last October SCAN reported on first-years having to find off-campus accommodation at short notice, and it would not be surprising if we were doing the same again next year. This problem isn’t unique to Lancaster; pressure on accommodation nationwide has been building over the last few years as more students than ever are admitted, and it is unlikely that next year’s fees hike will deter enough people to ease that pressure.
More students are now achieving the University’s entry requirements, which on average remain lower than other top-ten institutions such as the Oxbridge universities and Warwick. More students than the University projected meeting the requirements could reflect that Lancaster is still adjusting to being a top-ten university.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that once the hysteria of Freshers’ Week passes, living in town doesn’t necessarily detract from the Lancaster experience. Perhaps, then, the University should look to make accommodating some first years off-campus a routine practice?
As stressful as it has been for those involved, asking freshers to live in Lancaster alongside the thousands of other students already in the city seems sensible compared to the slightly comic instance of Aberystwyth University installing bunk beds to solve a similar problem.
The problem is that this remains a last resort. If it was pre-arranged that some new students would live off-campus, there would be less of a problem. Obviously there are logistical difficulties here, but at the very least a better established contingency plan would alleviate a lot of the stress of coming to university.