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Students’ Accommodation and Campus Housing Review Report

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Updated: Oct 5th, 2021

The current study is concerned with exploration of how students experience student accommodation and on campus housing and how this affects their academic experience. The research presents a qualitative analysis of two case studies in the form of interview. The two participants were asked questions which can be divided in the following groups:

  • The affect that location of accommodation has for overall experience;
  • The way the students perceive they benefit educationally from living in student accommodation;
  • The way the students perceive they benefit socially from living in student accommodation.

While each individual response to the questions asked was unique, several commonalities can be singled out in the interconnection between the student accommodation and the respondents’ academic performance. The following interrelated themes echoed across each case. These themes and their interrelation are described below:

Knowing How To Live in a Student Hall

  • Theme 1. The respondents’ reflections upon their first experiences when living in the halls.
  • Theme 2. The respondents’ prior expectations concerning their future halls and their attitudes towards the assignment of the halls to them.
  • Domain II. Regarding Students’ Experience of Settling.
  • Theme 1. The changes that the respondents’ life in the hall brought to them.
  • Theme 2. Halls versus native homes.

Investigating Students’ Overall University Experience

  • Theme 1. Student accommodation and the process of socialisation.
  • Theme 2. The effects of the halls on the respondents’ academic performance.

The themes and their interrelation will be described below, but at the beginning of the analysis we would like to stop at the feelings and emotions, the manner of speech of the respondents while the interview took place. The following peculiarities can be observed when analyzing the students’ responses:

Overlapping speech – in the first case study we observe this when the respondent (we will refer to this respondent as to respondent A) describes his first impressions about the house mate he met the first. [] symbol denotes the overlapping speech in the transcript:

my…house mate was pretty scary [the first] one i met.

  • Also, overlapping speech occurs when the respondent answered the question about whether he could choose the hall or not:

[No] the hall was assigned to me.

  • More examples include the answer to the question when the respondent was asked about the privacy of the room he lived in:

[Erm], yer quite private.

  • When he described his first impressions about settling:

[Yup] erm it was very strange to start off with.. I was quite home sick, erm.. missed.. missed my family = I live with two guys ad.. had to adjust living with two guys [erm].. and also the fact that people come and go, like, all the time at uni [erm] and like constant door slams and stuff but you soon get used to it.

  • When he spoke of the things he had to adjust to:

[Yer] I had to learn how to wash.. erm.. my clothes, I had to learn to actually do my washing up, er.. yer, quite alot.

  • The overlapping speech of the respondent was also evident when he spoke of the changes in his life since he had became a university student:

[No]… er, no nothing changed, everything stayed the same.

  • Also it happened when the respondent answered the question about his interrelation with housemates if compared to the interrelationships with people from his course:

Er, no just] get on better with the people from my course, but I haven’t got anything against my housemates

  • The respondent A’s overlapping speech was obvious in the case when he answered whether it was difficult or not to make friends for him:

[Yer] fairly easy.

In answers of the respondent B the overlapping speech could also be observed rather frequently. We will just name them, but will not include the extracts from the interview because of space constraints.

  • When the girl describes the contradiction between her prior expectations and initial reactions to living in her student accommodation;
  • When she describes the things in student accommodation that made her feel uncomfortable there;
  • When she talks of her experience of settling;
  • When she thinks of independence she has in student accommodation;
  • When she explains the reasons for her bad attendance rate;
  • When she speaks of her workload;
  • When she dwells on the importance of her university in her life;
  • When she speaks of the changes in her lifestyle related to her housemates’ habits and way of living.

Thus, we observe that in both cases the respondents’ speech became overlapping when they answered the questions crucial for understanding how successfully they adjusted to living in student accommodation, how influential new settling was in their lives and what changes it brought.

Another feature common for both respondents’ answers is their latched speech. In a number of respondent A and respondent B’s answers there was no gap between the end of one utterance and the beginning of the next. In respondent A’s answers:

  • In description of his prior expectations and initial reactions to living in a student accommodation;
  • Answering the question about whether the hall accommodated all his needs or not;
  • In description of his feelings when he got to know that the hall was assigned to him;
  • Summarizing the general impression of the hall;
  • Speaking of the hall standards’ meeting to his demands;
  • Speaking of location;
  • Sharing his impressions of settling in experience;
  • Analyzing the effects that accommodation has on his academic performance;
  • Concluding that living in the hall is a positive experience for him.

In respondent B’s answers:

  • Speaking of her general disappointment about the hall she had to live in;
  • Describing the terms of living in the hall;
  • Explaining that it was required to live in university accommodation;
  • Describing the facilities of the halls her friends lived in;
  • Describing her experience of settling in;
  • Speaking of her independence in the hall;
  • Thinking of the real clauses of her law attendance rate;
  • Evaluating her socialization process;
  • Evaluating the effects that her student accommodation had on her university life.

The latched speech in the answers mentioned above speaks for the respondents’ hesitation while answering, their thinking over the questions asked and attempts to find objective answers to them.

The respondents’ speech also includes a large number of emphasized words and utterances, like in case of the respondent A’s interview:

  • When he talks of his housemate;
  • When he talks of security;
  • When he speaks of his family and his visits home;
  • When he explains the nature of his relationship with the housemates;
  • When he evaluates the influence of his accommodation on his study, etc.

A lot of examples of stressed words can be observed in the answers to the questions that demand either positive or negative answer. By emphasizing the words and the whole sentences the respondent revealed his position concerning the problem set. If above we talked of uncertainty that the respondents displayed in their answers, here we admit the firmness of the respondents’ position.

The respondent B emphasized the following issues:

  • The place she talks about;
  • The characteristics of this place;
  • The year of her study;
  • Her independence in the hall;
  • Her attitude to study, etc.

Throughout both of the interviews one can observe short pauses in the respondents’ speech. The pauses were made when the respondents were either uncertain about the answers to give, or needed some time to appropriately understand the question asked.

Coming up to the domains the interviews consisted of we should say that the first domain concerned the respondents’ reflections upon their first experiences when living in the halls. It encompassed the students’ prior expectations concerning their future halls, their initial reactions to living in the student accommodation, their attitudes towards the assignment of the halls to them. It also included the respondents’ general descriptions of the halls they lived in, and their overall satisfaction from student accommodation.

Theme 1. The respondents’ reflections upon their first experiences when living in the halls.

The respondents were asked about their first experiences in living in the hall. In their answers they focused on different perspectives. The respondent A admitted that it was necessary for him to live in the halls and that he was quite satisfied with it:

I: Ok, so, erm, is it necessary for you to live in halls?

R: Yes

I: How come?

R: Because I dont live.. in.. i Kent

I: Ok, your overall satisfaction?

R: Yep = really pleased with it (Respondent A).

The second respondent paid more attention to her attempts to change the hall, as it did not meet her requirements:

P: I tried to move to another…erm…student accommodation…on campus…actually to PinHill…or Parham Road…where my friends are…for instance now.

E: Different student halls…right?

P: yes…yes…yes. Which is much better than my house. And…they told me ‘no’…there are many students that are waiting for…this…and they just told me ‘no’(Respondent B).

Thus, the respondent A appeared to be more willing to live in the hall, whereas the respondent B did not like the hall and wanted to leave it. Both participants experienced feeling of homesickness during the beginning stage of their stay at halls.

Theme 2. The respondents’ prior expectations concerning their future halls and their attitudes towards the assignment of the halls to them.

To understand better the respondents’ likes and dislikes concerning their student accommodation, they were asked to describe their prior expectations.

The respondent A expected to get a room that was close to the university, another expectation concerned an ensuite that the room should have had. The fact that the student accommodation did not meet these demands caused the respondent A’s disappointment:

I: Why was you disapointed?

R: Erm, because I originally wanted to ive in Lanfranc which is alot closer to the university, erm, and it had an ensuite, whereas the room I a in now does’nt have an ensuite to it (Respondent A).

Still, as the time passed by, the respondent’s views on his room changed and he claimed that “now I would never change it” (Respondent A).

The respondent B, on the contrary, did not change her views on her room. She confessed that she was a bit shocked and surprised at what she got:

I was like…err…a bit shocked and surprised because it wasn’t actually what I was expected. Erm… the lack of…internet…er…theres no washing machine…a…the fridge is too small [laughs] and many other things that disturbed me…made me feel…a little bit uncomfortable (Respondent B).

Then she continues:

I was told that…I’m gonna have a really clean house…and place where im gonna live…when I first came in here…and now the house is the same…in the same situation…I realise, that, actually, the walls…are not that clean, as in not fresh painted…err…the windows…actually are not…again…washed, and..i don’t have that condition that I’m used to have…and I used to have home (Respondent B).

Her overall satisfaction of student accommodation was that it left much to be desired, as a lot of things should have been changed there.

Thus, the respondents differed in their perception of the halls they lived in, if the respondent A managed to adjust to the new settings, neglecting the prior expectations he had, the respondent B remained firm in her position towards the room and wanted to see her demands met. This difference can be interpreted through either difference of the respondents’ background, or, the differences in their characters. There is no concrete information concerning the first respondent’s background, but we can assume that the respondent did not live in a house with extraordinary facilities or something of the kind, as there are no evident answers that point to this. Meanwhile the respondent B got used to live in a house with much better facilities that she had to live in.

What is more, the different perceptions might result from different personal traits that the two respondents had. The respondent A appears to be more complaisant in comparison with the demanding respondent B.

Both of them reported that they could not choose the room to live in; the rooms were assigned to them and, as clear from the mentioned above, the respondents were quite disappointed about it.

The second domain is concerned with investigation of the changes the students’ new accommodation brought and the way they adjusted to them after leaving the parental houses. The respondents were asked to evaluate to what extent their life at the hall differed from the one they had before university. Their feelings concerning the major changes in their lives are revealed in this domain.

Theme 1. The changes that the respondents’ life in the hall brought to them.

New accommodation always brings something new to the lives of those who face this problem. In this section the changes in the respondents’ lives were investigated. With new halls both of the respondents gained more independence, and, as a result, more responsibilities. The answers of the respondents were quite similar as both of them admitted that they had to do a lot of things about the house that they were not expected to do when they lived in parental houses:

I: Did you have to adjust alot to do things for [yourself?]

R: [Yer] I had to learn how to wash.. erm.. my clothes, I had to learn to actually do my washing up, er.. yer, quite a lot (Respondent A).

E: Was it hard for you to…do things on your own? Were you…used for…your mum to do your washing…and cooking for you…and things like that?

P: Oh…definitely. [laughs] yes. Err…um…I’ve been…due to the fact that I’m the only child in the family [laughs]…erm…I’m used…like my mum…would do everything for me…and when I came here…was like…oh…I have to do that… because nobodys gonna do that…instead of me. I have to…clean my room becauses nobodys coming to clean up after me…I have to wash my dishes because nobody’s gonna…is gonna…wash…them instead of me. I have to cook for myself…I have to go shopping…as in food…and house products…because my dad is not gonna do the shopping…[laughs] for me (Respondent B).

Though it was difficult for the respondents to adjust to new demands of their living they managed to do it, the second respondent even admitted that she had a job which helped her to become a more disciplined person:

E: So…basically…you didn’t feel that bad? When you settled in. what about the independence?

P: Oh. This was actually one part of all this changement in my life…of uni…that made me feel…n0ot made me feel…made me…help…helped me go on. That now…I’m…I have a job…and…actually, I’m my own boss. I’m deciding for myself, whatever I need to buy something…I need to cook…I need to clean my room…I need to…anything. I’m my own boss. I decide things for myself. So…things at home…I didn’t use to do (Respondent B).

It is obvious that the new accommodation influenced significantly the respondents’ characters and attitudes to duties one has in life, it made the respondents more responsible, demanding to oneself, and even ambitious. The students got to know the value of their independence and learned how to appreciate it properly.

Theme 2. Halls versus native homes.

The sense of independence and responsibility distinguished the respondents from those people who they were before living in the halls. As it was already mentioned, at the beginning of their living in student accommodation both of the respondents were missing their homes. As long as difficulties with adjusting to new accommodation increased, they visited their homes. Later, the need of regular visiting homes disappeared and the students did not miss their families that much:

I: Did you feel the need to visit home at all?

R: Erm.. I went home possibly.. i think three times in the first term so, I had quite alot of family that came up to see me, so I did’nt feel the need to go home (Respondent A).

E: Do you feel like…you need to…erm…visit home…regularly?

P: Umm…yes and no. I think everyone needs to see their family, but its not that I’m dying if I’m not gonna see my mum…or my dad…so it’s…it’s ok. I mean… I didn’t see my parents since November…and now its March…so…I’m ok (Respondent B).

The new accommodation, thus, taught the respondents to be less dependent on their native homes and contributed to their becoming independent persons, responsible for their actions.

The third domain is the most significant in terms of realizing the role that student accommodation had on their studies. Understanding the interconnection between living in the halls and the way the respondents socialized also became the purpose of this domain.

Theme 1. Student accommodation and the process of socialisation.

When the respondents were asked to describe how they socialize with their housemates and the people from their courses they gave nearly the same answers. Both respondents answered that they socialize better with the people from their courses than with their roommates. The two respondents admitted that they never experienced significant problems while communicating with their housemates, but they never became the closest friends with them:

I: Do you socialise more with them or with people from a social society or from your course?

R: Erm.. I socialise more from people on my course than i do my.. housemates (Respondent A).

E: um…do you socialize more with your housemates? Or…with…all kinds of colleagues of yours?

P: Oh no…all kinds of colleagues [laughs]. I..I..I don’t mind…my housemates…are not my closest friends in here…I made (Respondent B).

The respondents answered that they did not have anything against their housemates, but could not explain why they became better friends with their colleagues than with their housemates. Though, it should be noted that the respondent B admitted that she had certain difficulties in overcoming cultural differences she had with her housemates. The respondent B’s attitude to the problem of cultural diversity was rather reasonable as she realized that she would know a lot of other people’s cultures, thoughts and mentalities. The respondent A’s opinion about cultural diversity was nearly the same. It revealed when he talked of one French girl that lived in the student accommodation.

The halls, thus, provided the respondents with opportunity to learn more about foreign cultures and appreciate the importance of adequate intercourse of their different representatives. The halls developed the respondents’ communication skills and taught how various communication barriers can be broken.

Theme 2. The effects of the halls on the respondents’ academic performance.

When the respondents were asked about the effects that the halls had on their academic performance the respondent A spoke of some problems with quietness that sometimes appeared in the hall, but, in general, he told, living in the hall helped him in his study:

I: Ok, last bit. How have you found your overall university experience so far, in regards to the effect of your university accomodation has had both educationally and socially on yourself?

R: Yer its been great.. like.. erm.. I live with another student who is on my course, so if I have any problems.. erm we kind of work together.. er and things like that, erm.. sometimes its hard to get like quietness to actually concentrate on doing an assignmnet, but thats only very rarley.. that happens. Other than that I.. Its been great = ive really enjoyed it (Respondent B).

As for the second respondent she answered that living in the hall did not affect her university life: “I’m a little bit disappointed with my house, but its not a thing that affects my…life uni. I can bare it. I can deal with it.” (Respondent B)

Both respondents realized that their academic success depended on their hard work only, or, to be more exact, on their desire to work hard. It appears that for the respondent B it was more difficult to balance between studying and having fun than for the respondent A. Still, both students should care of the way they manage the process of their study to succeed in it.

The two interviews analyzed, we conclude that in both cases the student accommodation affected the respondents. The effects appeared to be positive: the respondents learned how to adjust to new living conditions, they became more independent in their actions and, what is more important, they became more responsible for those actions. Though at the beginning of their stay at the hall the respondents experienced some difficulties related to the lack of some facilities, as the time passed, they became more flexible to the changes the new experiences brought. The halls contributed to formation of the respondents as communicative persons, they learned how to break cultural stereotypes and enlarged their scope of knowledge significantly as far as the problem of foreign cultures is concerned. There was not direct influence of living in a hall on academic performance found. The respondents admitted that their academic success depended on their own skills and abilities, as well as on their desire to work hard and not on the place they lived in.

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