I sat in the SCAN office this week and found myself reading an article by Jen Day written almost a year ago today. The headline read ‘Too many students and too few rooms as campus accommodation fills up.’ A fortnight later, the SCAN reported on how 20 international students had been put up in a hotel.
Fast-forward a year and we find ourselves yet again reporting on accommodation issues. It is no coincidence that accommodation dominates several pages of this edition’s news.
Evidently, lessons have been learnt and the University have prioritised international students who are arriving in the country for the first time. It is difficult enough to find accommodation in Lancaster if you are an incoming home student. Add in the language barrier for an international student and the change in culture, and you find yourself in a near-impossible situation.
However, it is simply not good enough to stand back and say changing the priority list has done enough. A review needs to be put in place and the University need to discover the exact reasons why they find themselves in this position yet again. This cannot become an annual problem.
Thankfully, LUSU have been on hand throughout the process to assist the 229 freshers who have been left without on-campus accommodation. Finding accommodation in the small private sector of the city of Lancaster is no easy task and the whole of the Students’ Union team of staff and officers have pulled together to help create a property bank for the new students.
I urge University management to reconsider their admissions policy. I accept that admissions have risen this year – this is no surprise given our exceptional league table standings. I accept that priorities have to be put in place for certain groups, especially overseas students. I accept that there has to be deadlines put in place and guarantees for students who choose Lancaster as their firm offer.
With all this said, moving to university will be for many students the first time they have left home. Mixed in with the overwhelming emotion of excitement, will be anxiety, nerves and worry. It is embarrassing that Lancaster are welcoming 229 students to our University who will not gain the same experience that all other freshers will get from living on-campus.
I know that JCR Execs and Kitchen Reps will do all they can to fully include these students in Freshers’ Week and I am sure they will all have a fantastic time, but they should never have found themselves in this position in the first place.