Where do all the students go?

 

There are a ridiculous number of students out there. I daren’t venture out. Some might say this is to be expected if you work on the campus of a large university, but there are simply too many of them at the moment.

Why so very many? One reason is that this year they’re all trying to get their degrees started before the course fees hike, so some that would otherwise have been backpacking across the third world finding themselves (or failing that, finding they have picked up tropical diseases) are here. Cluttering up the campus.

Another key reason is that the beginning of the academic year is the only time when large numbers of students need to be on campus at the same time. Even in this digital age there are a fair number of things it’s better to handle in person, especially if your loan money hasn’t come through, you don’t seem to be registered on your course or you’re not sure if you’ve turned up at the right university (an easy mistake to make when all the ex-polytechnics are re-branding to appear more up-market and the red-bricks are re-branding to appear less elitist). Also lots of these many many students are on campus meeting up with each other – connecting in person rather than digitally after the long summer apart. Shocking though this might be to any of you who think young people have lost their interpersonal skills because of reliance on technology, young people do still like to see each other sometimes, if only because it’s hard to snog on MSN.

[Reminds self of title of post]

So why is it that I’m shocked about the number of students? Because for the rest of the year we won’t see anything like this number. Why not? Where do they go?

Freshers’ flu will keep the numbers down over the next few weeks. Ship large numbers of people from over the country and a smaller number from all over the world and you soon have everyone meeting viruses they don’t have immunity to. Add to that the late nights, poor diets and high stress levels, not to speak of the hangovers, and soon enough infection spreads through the community like alcohol through the bloodstream. 

I suppose a substantial number drop out, although statistically we don’t have nearly as many dropouts as other universities.

I think the real answer to my question is that most of them are sitting on sofas somewhere, probably at their house or someone elses, drinking tea or something a bit stronger, depending on the state of their finances. Certainly with arts degrees it’s quite easy not to go to campus. If you’re prepared to buy a few books and so don’t need to camp out in the library, it’s perfectly possible to attend all your lectures, etc. in fewer hours a week than many people spend walking their dog. So over the next weeks campus will become quieter and quieter. It’ll be safe for me to leave the office again … until next year.

Image: photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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