Are there too many students on campus?

Sarah Redman looks at how the influx of students this year is affecting current students


photo: Cecelia Armstrong

Student numbers are on the up; 2015 has seen the largest number of students on campus ever – according to FXPLUS there are currently 4,200 students on campus with Falmouth and UoE aiming to grow to 5,000 by 2016- but is there enough room for all of us, or are we getting overcrowded? Are you feeling the squeeze or loving the mosh pit atmosphere?

One Textile Design student says: “Now that Fashion has moved from Falmouth to Penryn the studios are a little cramped; the students don’t have as much space as they did when I came on the Open day.” Space to work in is definitely becoming more limited, although there’s still plenty of empty seats in the library at midnight – for now anyway!

Accommodation in halls is also becoming tight, and there’s a risk some may be squeezed out. People applying through clearing and post-result transfers had to wait to see if they could be accommodated rather than whether they had got a space on the course.

To ease this problem new accommodation is needed but where can it be built on such a small campus? Can the universities’ drive for sustainability and an environmentally friendly ethos really be achieved along with mass expansion? Expansion does have its good side, however. It means more permanent jobs for local people and provides a larger market for local entrepreneurs. Students often choose to stay in Cornwall after their degree programmes and this could continue to see growth in the local economy. The Universities are definitely good for Falmouth and Penryn.

But for some students a small campus was exactly what they wanted.  Some people don’t want to feel just one in the crowd. Part of the advert for Penryn is that it is a rare thing – a campus small enough for people to get to know each other with a strong sense of community. For some people small is definitely beautiful.  And for a few it is crucial; for sufferers of social anxiety who deliberately chose a smaller campus, getting bigger is a very large step in the wrong direction. Overwhelmed with the huge numbers in lecture theatres and even in the Stannary, many are faced with a university experience they hadn’t bargained for.

And in the local community, although most are friendly, not everyone welcomes more students.  One local on the anonymous ‘Penryn Campus Fitfinder’ Facebook page certainly wasn’t entirely positive; “Penryn was a lovely place before the uni started getting bigger. The late parties, the mess, the noise, it’s all left for us locals to deal with and clean up.”

On the other hand, greater numbers mean more variety, and variety is the spice of life.  Film student Roxy Frost puts it clearly “there are always new people to talk to, new people to see and stuff to do. You won’t get bored and it does make the atmosphere better – the more people, the more drama and the more fun. It’s not quite city life but there’s still a lot of energy.” Whether a small campus will continue to be part of Penryn’s unique selling point remains to be seen.