Lord Young, the government’s minister for students, quizzed Lincoln students on Friday, March 12th, about their experiences at the university. Students expressed their concerns over accommodation, integration of international students, and the treatment of students with disabilities.

Lord Young’s visit was part of the government’s “National Listening Programme”, where officials take part in question-and-answer sessions with students.

The group that met the minister was quite small, with 14 students turning up; there were nine undergraduates, three post-grads, and two full-time Students’ Union officers. Most have some involvement in the SU.

The students were satisfied with most topics discussed, such as students’ expectations of their courses, IT facilities, and the transition to university life. However on other issues, major concerns were raised. Speaking to The Linc after the talk, Lord Young said: “Some of the accommodation standards and services need to be improved upon.”

Particular concern was raised over the university Courts, which are jointly owned by the university and Sanctuary Management Services.

Steven Greaves, the SU’s vice-president for welfare, said that this causes conflict when students raise problems with their accommodation because “the two groups pass the blame between each other”.

Per-week, the Courts are the most expensive halls of residence to live in, more so than private halls such as The Pavilions and Junxion, and that they are, as one student exclaimed, “the worst”.

There were strong concerns expressed about international students and the way that they are treated, with Lord Young saying: “They need more help and support.”

It was pointed out that international students are not assisted with finding accommodation before entering the university. Lord Young asked “aren’t the SU doing anything?”, but the Union say there is nothing that they can do.

Kayleigh Turner, vice-president for education at the SU, said that she had been trying to arrange reserved rooms for international students, however a student then expressed the danger of “ghettoising” them and disabling them from freely integrating with other students.

The three post-graduate students said they felt neglected and didn’t have enough contact with their tutors. They referred to themselves as “the other side” of the university in that they felt they are treated as less of a priority than undergraduate students.

For students with disabilities, “access in and out of buildings and around classrooms seemed to be okay for wheelchair students,” Lord Young said, but for those with disabilities such as dyslexia “that didn’t seem to be picked up on quickly enough.”

Emily Gough, a third-year media production student and part-time SU officer, said that one of her tutors had marked her essay without taking into consideration her dyslexia, because the report stating her condition had not been read.

Lord Young said: “The quality of teaching seemed to vary depending on the course. Overall it was pretty good but some of the contact time with tutors could be improved upon, as could tutors’ responses to student queries.”

However, he left with the overall impression was that “people certainly seem to enjoy being at Lincoln university”.