Yet again, we are forced to return to the age-old issue of problems with University accommodation. Despite the imminent demolition of Fife Park, St Andrews administrators have accepted year-on-year increases in the intake of first year students without providing a comparable increase in rooms. This is unacceptable.
The University, having already offered places to incoming students, is now left with only one option – to reduce the number of returning students to halls of residence. While St Andrews is fairly unique in its tradition of having students in their second, third and fourth years come back to halls, this newspaper believes it to be a tradition which is vital to the life- blood of this small institution.
By having the same students coming back year on year, we can improve upon the student body’s sense of community. Senior students, social reps, hall committees – all of these and more are under threat if existing students are prevented from returning to the corridors where they have lived since day one.
We are a small town. Private accommodation is a highly sought-after commodity, and the University has a duty to be there for those students who cannot, for whatever reason, move out of hall. While new buildings cannot be built overnight, there are several ways in which we can prevent issues like this occurring again in future.
First and foremost, the University should accept fewer first year students to ensure that problems like those experienced by Hannah Kilmas do not become recurring complications every September. If the University continues to accept more students while insufficient accommodation is available, then existing students and traditions will suffer.
Secondly, it is vital that the University learns from this year’s mistakes. While some students may have benefitted from the ability to opt-out of their contracts, this must not be allowed to be a repeating is sue. The new Fife Park will have an increased capacity and we welcome this progress. Until it is completed, however, the University has a duty to all students – present and future – to ensure that there are beds for any newcomers and returners who want them.