We studied on campus, but we grew up in town... - Susan Morrison
Mind you, down here we tend to fight back and at least one development was stymied. It’s not an anti-student protest. These days we never seem to see them.
Students need accommodation, and I’m delighted that they chose Edinburgh for their studies, but they don’t actually seem to live here. They’re cocooned in these new shiny buildings. One development boasts that the rent includes all the bills, Wi-Fi, a gym, a games room, and an on-site residents team to sort out any problems.
At least you have to supply your own toilet paper, which you can order online to be delivered with all the rest of your shopping. You need never leave.
Last week I took a run up to Stirling University. The place was clogged with cars packed to the gunnels. It was the first day the students could move on to the campus, and exactly 45 years to the day since my parents left me at the Halls of Residence. Mum was teary as she unpacked my new kettle. Dad hugged me and gave me a tenner.
Purpose-built universities with student accommodation were quite novel back then. I think the idea was to warehouse the students on the edges of towns and cities. It was beautiful, but a bit like studying for a degree in Centre Parks. It could be a little isolating.
Students in third and fourth year regularly left to live off-campus. We instinctively knew we were missing a vital part of our education. We had to learn how to be adults. We moved into the town, into our own flats. We had to find them for ourselves, and you can bet that those flats were about as far from the neat little campus bedrooms as you could get.
There we learned how to pay bills, look after property, do our laundry and live side-by-side with other people from all backgrounds and all ages.
We studied on campus, but we grew up in town...