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.
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?