Administrative staff made the “best of a perfect storm” by moving 96 Stockton Campus students into a new block of flats in Middlesbrough.
The decision to move the first-year students was taken after the number of students subscribed to live in the Stockton Campus grew to unprecedented levels.
With two weeks to go before the start of the academic year, administrative staff were forced to move 96 excess first year students into Rede House, a new accommodation block in Middlesbrough.
Duncan Macfarlane, JCR President at Stephenson College, said the situation was a “perfect storm”.
“We had a situation where, a few weeks before the start of term, we had 96 students too many and nowhere to put them. It was absolutely ridiculous, and it was dumped on our shoulders”.
Once the decision to put the students into Rede House was taken, staff at the accommodation block had to work fast in order to get it ready in time, whilst the staff at Stephenson College had to make student’s aware of the new arrangements.
One student, a first-year studying Finance, told Palatinate that he was informed that he would be living in Rede House just four days before the start of the year.
“I’m an international student, so I flew over to the UK a week before the start of the year, expecting to be living in Stephenson College. When I found out I would be living here [in Rede House] I couldn’t believe it”.
Further, the last minute nature of much of the building work meant that the rooms were only finished on the day that students started to move in.
In an article published in Palatinate last November a host of students living in Rede House took the opportunity to complain about the situation, with one student claiming that the building was not fit to live in.
However, since then the University has worked hard to improve the situation, and have addressed what Macfarlane calls “teething problems”.
The biggest of these issues was the poor internet, which, according to a first-year Business and Management student, has improved greatly.
“The problems that we had early on were mostly related to the Wi-Fi, now that they have sorted that out it’s all ok.
“When I moved into my room everything that I need was already there, and room was ready on time, which wasn’t the case for a lot of students.
Despite the improvements, a number of students have still registered their frustration at being so far away from the Stockton Campus.
One first-year Finance student said that the most of the students are disappointed by the location.
“The accommodation here has definitely improved, but the main problem is that it’s just too far away, and unfortunately nothing can change that now.
“Before I came here, I looked up Rede House on the map, expecting it to be in Stockton. I couldn’t believe I was so far out of the city.
“I’m a Durham student, not a Middlesbrough student.
“But our JCR President has really done a fantastic job of trying to sort out the issues that we had earlier on.
The fact that students from Rede House have been able to integrate so well with those living in college is testament to the college spirit, according to Macfarlane.
“They have their own little community up in Rede House, it’s amazing to see. The students there are really tight knit, and many of them have already agreed to live together again next year.
“We arrange for coaches to pick them up and take them to events at the Stockton Campus, and students who live in college often go up to Rede House too.
“The other night, for example, we had a big college event, and a lot of students from the college went up to Rede House to pre-drink with the people there”.
Professor Graham Towl, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Deputy Warden, praised the hard work of students and staff at Stephenson College.
“We are very grateful to the College community at Stephenson for the sterling work of the JCR working in partnership with the College in securing the best possible experience for our students, a tribute to the collegiate spirit.”
Phootgraphs: Henry Clare