Editorial: A University out of touch?

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Worryingly, bathimpact finds that the University is becoming more out of touch with its students. The recurring theme, found throughout this edition of bathimpact, is that the University is not listening to what students want and seeing them more as numbers than recipients and partners in learning.

It is clear that higher education funding is rapidly becoming a mess, resulting in student numbers being increased at an unsustainable rate. Now the University sees students as a pot of funding, a way to keep the University’s finances ticking over. Because of this, we are seeing strains across the board, from learning and teaching to accommodation.

This year’s intake of mathematics students, for example, have a higher cohort number than any lecture theatre can provide. Because of this the lecture is having to be taught in 2 blocks, effectively separating the cohort of students away from each other even though they will be receiving the same lecture. Recruiting beyond the learning and teaching capacity is something that should have been investigated before the new students arrived.

There are also strains being found in accommodation, with many students being forced to share rooms. The University proudly states that all first year students who apply for accommodation before the deadline will get University managed halls, but that is incredibly misleading. It does not guarantee any student that has Bath down as their insurance choice a room, or take into account the other factors that result in students not meeting this deadline. The University cannot provide accommodation for all its intake, and this masquerade that it “guarantees” students accommodation needs to stop.

The University shouted from the roof tops about the new arts building, called the Edge, and  how it would help support the arts agenda here. It then followed that students found booking rooms difficult with so many spaces being let out to private theatre companies and performances, limiting the students’ ability to access these spaces. Once again proving financial interests trump students interests.

There is also a silence over whether the University will provide scholarships to refugees, something which 18 other universities have done so far, regardless of pressure from students. Being a University so high in the league tables, this is something the University can and should do. So far the University has given no response over whether they will support these people in crisis.

We at bathimpact have previously run articles relating to the pressures on campus facilities. The gym is getting busier and busier, overcrowding on an already stretched bus service, and finding space in the library being neigh on impossible at peak times.

Students are paying more to attend university than ever before and are getting a worse deal than the students before them with each years’ rise. At bathimpact it appears that  the University is not considering these crucial implications that affect students and are more concerned with their bank balance.

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Written by the bathimpact committee or posted anonymously.

2 Comments

  1. Great piece. Nice to see BathImpact taking a stance and criticising the University. As this develops, hopefully the paper can take a greater role in holding the University to account for this and other things.

  2. What’s that? A student complaining about their university again?

    I’ve been here for 4 weeks, I went to another university for a year before coming to Bath and OP, you do not necessarily realise that Bath spoils its students.

    1. You mention that Bath’s mathematics department has expanded so much that they have to give multiple lectures. This is a GOOD thing. The more students there are pumping the department full of funds, the better the research becomes – and before you know it Bath can afford to build a new bigger lecture theatre. Short term pain for long term gain.

    2. The students I have spoken to that are sharing rooms did not get on campus accommodation and were given shared accommodation as a compromise. At other universities, the off campus Freshers dwarf the number in University-managed accommodation. Insurance choice students shouldn’t be given the same right to accommodation as firms, they are lucky enough as it is to have got into such a brilliant university at all. I don’t see what your criticism even means. Is it the University’s responsibility to house you when you are taking the first steps towards independence? Support is one thing, nannying is another.

    3. I’ve had no problems booking rooms at the Edge. Maybe these ‘students’ you mention are too lazy to go to the Box Office to book the rooms out and expect to do everything on their smartphones! Business interests (the alumni fund and private companies you demonise) paid for the Edge so I hope you can accept the compromise of not being able to hold your event at peak times. The companies pay to hire after all, you don’t.

    4. The refugee crisis is a horrifying situation. I’m not going to deny that the whole of civil society has to respond to this, but making a quick decision to invite refugees to study here, satisfying your personal morality could cause more problems than is at first apparent. Many refugees haven’t had a Western education; they might struggle with some of the demands of learning here. They would need to be accommodated and fed, at cost to the University, or to charity. Until we have a plan for how we should integrate refugees we have to deliberate the possible solutions first. This is why I think the University hasn’t made a response, they are trying to work out the most proportionate reaction.

    The rising cost of tuition is something that disproportionately affects students from a poorer background. Believe it or not however, increasing tuition was a means of opening Universities up for expansion. Bath has seen huge regeneration and growth in the last 10 years and OP, you neglect that. The University will get better the more students choose to come here.Your criticism on its own is whining. If you intend to really hold this University to account, use Freedom of Information requests to get access to the internal mechanism of the administration. Then you can see whether the University is fruitlessly investing in some financial black-hole, or if business really does control the use of the Edge, and whether the gym’s use is beyond its capacity. Once you do that OP, you can provide real oversight and scrutiny which I think is what you could do if you start using empirical facts and stop using analogous evidence and opinions.

    You could do better.

    Mec

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