by Angharad May
Some students breeze through University and experience those sought-after best-years-of-their-lives. However, the reality is that most students do need support at some stage whilst at University.
UPP’s 2017 Student Experience Report shows 87% of first-year students experience difficulty coping academically or socially. With more students than ever attending University, alongside a diminishing stigma around mental health, there is increasing demand for support.
Universities UK has developed a framework highlighting the need for university-wide services and Cardiff University is attempting to be constructive with plans for the future of its academic and social support services.
In 2016, the go-ahead was given for a £50m building to be constructed in Cardiff University’s Cathays Campus. Construction has already commenced on Park Place. The Centre for Student Life, as the building will be called, has been labeled the biggest campus upgrade in a generation and signifies the University’s partnership with its student body. Cardiff University and the Students’ Union are working together in response to the desire of students for improvements to the aforementioned services.
Running 140m along Park Place, it will hide the current Student Union building, and examples of the improvements it will house include redeveloped student support services, upgraded study spaces and increased numbers of consultation rooms in addition to shops and a 550-seat auditorium.
Many of these resources and facilities are currently dispersed, making them difficult to locate and thus adding to the stresses of student life. In essence, this can lead to students not accessing help at the point of need. As such, the Centre for Student Life is aiming to act as a central hub for students, with all aspects of student life converging on one location.
With enhanced services, the project aims to ensure that students from both the Heath and Cathays campuses feel better supported. This also applies to staff and, if successful, the project could have the effect of reassuring prospective students and the public that the university is keeping up with the latest demands.
Another proposed perk of the project, is that the architects Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios have so far designed the five-storey building with sustainability in mind. This implies a current focus on minimising the building’s carbon footprint by using renewable technology and systems which reduce energy consumption. For example, there will be energy-efficient lighting and a green roof.
The Centre for Student Life is due to be completed in 2020, which means that 2018 Freshers will be able to reap the expected benefits of this innovative project, hopefully allowing them to further excel and thrive.