Student accommodation is a huge part of first year, being both a home and a social area when starting university. However, for vet students it is also a huge source of stress. With conflicting holiday and exam times, and the trek to get to vet school, student accommodations do not provide the same services to vet students as they do to others.
Student accommodation services do not seem to understand that vet students run to a different semester timetable than the usual student. For the past few years at least, the Pollock Halls move-out day has always been very soon after the vet exam times. In 2017, students only had one day after their final exam to leave their room, and in 2018 the move-out deadline was actually during the exam period. A current fifth year spoke about a similar rush during their first year of university, which means that this has been a problem for at least five years. It would be expected that after such a long time, the university would be working towards fixing the problem. Instead, the issue appears to be getting worse every year.
Alongside timing problems, vet students face further challenges when in Pollock Halls. Pollock stops their food service during the university holidays, which greatly affects vets with their later term finish and earlier term start. While the university does provide a warning to vet students that this will affect them, their busy nine-to-five timetables mean vet students already face heavy time pressures. During first year, Pollock Halls is an easy way of removing cooking times to make organising time easier, and help students to get used to their difficult course. Surely a university that can afford the Vice-Chancellor’s recent pay rise could have afforded some food to help their students.
A further problem regarding time pressures is the location of accommodation. While many will get their priority choices and therefore will be as close to the vet school as is possible, at least two students this year have been placed in accommodation in Leith. This means two hours of travelling just to get to the vet school and another two home. These students now face a seven-to-seven day, and even more work in the evening, which is adding huge time pressure on top of an already difficult degree. This is extremely inconsiderate on the part of the university in not taking their degree into account when organising accommodation.
In looking at this, it appears that the university is more focused on maintaining the system than on really helping students. The early move-out day has not changed despite years of problems, and despite recognising the problem of not providing food, the university has not done anything to create a solution. This poor organisation extends to the placement of students and complete lack of consideration regarding different degree programmes. As students of the university, vets have a right to certain standards just as other students do, and the university is letting them down.
Image: Derek Harper via Geograph