Freshers’ Week – what does it mean to you?

by , Senior Technology Researcher Consumer Rights 18 September 2012
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Many unis across the UK are in the middle of, or getting ready for Freshers’ Week. For those heading off to university for the first time, Freshers’ Week is one of the most important events in the social calendar.

Cartoon of students jumping

Freshers’ Week is the first week of uni devoted to making friends, trying societies you’re unlikely to attend again (ultimate frisbee in my case) and, of course, partying. But some universities are thinking of ditching this age old tradition in order to launch straight into the serious academic stuff.

Five days to find your feet

I may have mentioned before that I was lucky enough to attend the University of Warwick. When I started, they’d already semi-dispensed of Freshers’ Week. The societies and sports clubs still held Freshers’ fairs and the student union was open for business every night, offering blissful evenings of cheesy music and cheap drinks. However, seminars and lectures were also thrown into the mix, because my first week counted the same as any other in the eyes of the university.

Some might say that there’s nothing wrong with that – we are there to study after all. But personally, I would’ve preferred that week to get used to living independently, to get to know the people and generally find my feet.

I’m pleased to see that a survey of current students by Which? University, asking them to rate how large a part their students’ union played in the uni’s overall social scene, found lots of students rated the nightlife options at their union positively.

I appreciate there are some strong arguments to get rid of Freshers’ Week. For instance, many people think it encourages excessive levels of drinking. However, I don’t see how throwing lectures into the mix will change this. Students who like a drink don’t limit this activity to the first week of uni, so abolishing Freshers’ Week is unlikely to tackle the problem.

Fighting for Freshers’ Week

Earlier in the year, Bristol University was considering reducing its Freshers’ Week from five days to three. However, it shelved its plans following a student petition which gained over 300 signatures in just one week. From this, it seems clear that Freshers’ Week is still important to many students.

I think being thrust into a new environment with complete strangers is hard enough without having to contend with lectures and seminars at the same time. Do you think unis should keep Freshers’ Week, or would students be better off without it?

4 comments

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Becky

I think Fresher’s week is a key part of the first year of Uni but emphasis should be on daytime activities as we had none really in my year. However, it is definitely not the best week of uni, and people should not expect it to be. You start to feel settled and really enjoy uni at Halloween, this was an interesting article.

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Laurence

The myth surrounding Freshers week seems to far exceed the reality of the event. At Bath the week consisted of nightly drinking in the same sports hall wearing different outfits as the week went on, meeting increasing numbers of people whose names are lost long before the painful awakening the following morning.
The only friends you remember are the ones you mumble with over day time cups of tea and those who share your front door.
Whilst Freshers week is undeniably fun it does not seem unique. Perhaps if students were given the option to start lectures a week earlier but have an end of year freshers event or an increased number of three day weekends then the student response may be a little more favourable to a curtailing of the traditional Freshers Week.
Interesting article – something I wasn’t aware was a hot topic…

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Samm

Freshers week was really useful. It allowed me to meet other people from academic courses (I was studying textiles), learn more about what the university had to offer & get to grips with living on my own (well in halls of residence) for the first time. Plus it gave me time to explore the area & settle down into my new home. Yes there was the odd drunken nights – but then I made some great friends who I might never have met otherwise.

I definitely enjoyed Freshers’ Week as a get-to-know other students week. It was fun, it was sociable – and in truth that’s often just as important as the work itself.

One thing I do regret though is signing up to so many groups and paying them deposits – I didn’t end up going to any of them. It’s not so much that I regret giving the money, it’s that I regret not going.

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