What Late Accommodation Allocations Say About Durham-Palatinate Superiority Complex

By Ruby Davis

Shortly after earning their A-level grades and being accepted into college, many students begin the long-awaited preparations for moving to a new city. Frequenting IKEA and joining Facebook groups to meet future roommates are common practices for most prospective undergraduates during the summer before school begins. However, this year at Durham University, that was not the case. Instead, many freshmen were assigned housing just eight days before Fresher’s Week. Additionally, some were asked to post a £200 deposit to secure accommodation before they even found out which college they had been assigned to. Aside from a general lack of organization and empathy for student peace of mind, this suggests something more concerning about Durham’s “superiority complex” as a prestigious university.

The first thing this tells us about the University is that it does not take into account the impact of increased admissions on the actual student experience. The University says the accommodations were allocated so late due to very high demand for university rooms, although this just begs the question of how admissions are handled. With top A-level grades on the rise this summer and Durham University’s prestigious reputation unwavering, it’s no surprise that more people are applying to the University. Additionally, the college system is one of the very aspects that draw potential students to Durham. Therefore, the University needs to rethink its admissions process and start limiting the number of students it accepts to ensure that accommodation can be allocated in advance. If not, it will become increasingly clear that the University cares more about money than its students.

Durham University does not seem to take into account the situation of its poorest students

The second thing we can learn from this is that Durham University does not seem to take into account the situation of its poorer students. While the situation has undoubtedly been inconvenient for all, it has probably affected students from lower socio-economic backgrounds the most. It would not be the first time that the University’s attitude towards students from low-income households has been tone-deaf at best and elitist at worst. For example, their website specifically explains that freshmen cannot be transferred from a college with catering to an independent college if they cannot afford it, although the current price of a college room with restoration is £8074, with the current maximum maintenance loan. set at £9179. Provided a student receiving the maximum loan is also eligible for the Durham Scholarship, that student would only be left with £3105 for the academic year. This should cover the cost of a range of things like academic books and equipment, their JCR levy, sports team fees, Fresher week and other social events, parties, subscriptions to a gym and transportation. For students from low-income backgrounds, it is likely that their loan will also need to cover the cost of their train or coach ticket to and from Durham at the start and end of term, as well as the cost of household items needed to move. in the halls as a fee, as well as a large security deposit in the first quarter as many homes begin to be purchased for the following year. So, not even knowing which university you would be living in, how much your accommodation would cost, and having to prepare for a move to university in just eight days and before student loans arrived would disproportionately affect students whose families have little to no disposable income.

No matter how controversial Durham University finds itself…it will remain a top choice for bright young people

To me, this situation suggests that Durham University has a superiority complex. Despite the stress these late allocations have caused for parents and students, much is unlikely to change. For students motivated by their studies, working hard to get top grades and attending a reputable university like Durham means that many will come to terms with the lack of organization and support evident in situations like this. Many students seeking acceptance to Durham may reject offers from lower-ranked universities, including declining unconditional offers or lower grade requirements. It’s clear that no matter what controversy Durham University finds itself in and what it does to its students, it will remain a top choice for bright young people year after year – and the university knows it. too. The question now is whether this is an inevitable aspect of Durham University culture that will never change, or if something has to give way in the years to come.

Image: Emphyrio via Pixabay

James V. Hayes