St Regulus hall is currently trialling catering changes as part of a University wide examination by Residential and Business Services.
Since spring break private catering company Aramark has implemented a new meal time system that could, with modifications, be used in all catered halls from September. Aramark is a company that has worked with the likes of Costa and already caters for 130 educational facilities around the UK.
Changes centre around a points system which controls the amount of food residents take at meals. Alterations appear largely cosmetic but include an extended meal service period, improvements to the display of food and the opportunity for students to help themselves to vegetables, salads, etc. At weekends, a brunch style menu has been introduced with a continental breakfast for those that require an earlier meal.
A University official explained, “The University has monitored student satisfaction levels for its various services and has put in place measures to improve those services where satisfaction levels were below the required standard. Generally residence catering fell into this category and following a series of surveys and independent reviews, Residential and Business Services embarked on a restructuring of its’ catering service aided by an external partner engaged on a short-term contract.”
One source of concern has come from new menus which refer to students as customers, as the change comes at a time when many students are worried about the commercialisation of the university sector. This re-examination of catering appears at least in part an effort to reduce costs.
Not just students but University staff appear worried by the recent changes, with a report in The Courier suggesting up to 200 catering jobs are at stake and that plans are in motion to change permanently to a private contractor.
However, Stephen Magee, the University of St Andrews Vice- Principal of external relations maintains the University is still committed to internal catering, and described claims otherwise as “deliberate mischief making.” He stressed the goal of the University is to provide catering “in line with student expectations” and that “we want to do so cost-effectively while retaining this important service in-house.”
Siena Parker, Director of Representation, stressed the positives for students, saying, “It’s great to see Residential and Business Services reacting to student feedback on hall catering, which over the past few years hasn’t been up to standards.”
She insists, “The trial catering in St Regs seems to be going really well. We’re happy that RBS are listening to what students want.”