THERE have been calls for universities to do more to support Fermanagh students who choose to stay at home while studying.
Student life has changed dramatically over the past number of years, with young people no longer relishing college as a chance to move out on their own. Between the Covid pandemic and now the cost of living crisis, local students are increasingly opting to stay at home whenever they can.
However, while society is changing, universities have been slower to adapt.
Local Cllr Diana Armstrong recently raised a successful motion at the Council, calling for the local government to write to Ulster University and Queen’s University to public student timetables alongside students’ letters of acceptance.
“This allows students, if they wish, to commute from home where attendance at in-person lectures is limited,” the motion stated.
“The blended learning model has been successfully used during Covid and this will permit students to study at home while reducing the escalating costs of living and pressures on the availability of affordable accommodation in Belfast.”
The motion stated that releasing timetables early would “allow students to make more informed decisions around securing accommodation in university towns and cities in Northern Ireland.”
Cllr Matthew Bell, who seconded the motion and is a recent student himself, said, “When a student receives their letter of offer from Queen’s or Ulster University they are largely left in the dark about a lot of details, such as where their classes take place or how many hours they will be expected to be on campus.
“With the already-existing pressures of attending university for the first time, there is the added headache of finding accommodation, and universities can put students under immense pressure to enter into contracts for student halls.”
Cllr Armstrong, speaking after the meeting, said, “As a locally elected councillor it is vital that we represent young people and this motion aims to support students who have been affected by not only Covid but also the cost of living crisis and the lack of affordable student accommodation whilst giving them the chance to make informed decisions.”
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