It’s a harrowing experience if you’re a newbie entering the vast world of LSE postgraduate studies. Information about orientation is only sent to you via email less than a month before you arrive. The Student Union doesn’t inform you of Freshers’ Events unless you manage to register for your course earlier on in the first week. And, if you’re coming from abroad, even accommodation assistance is a vague – or so I hear.
Much of the information my department, Government, provided was through a Facebook group. Although the use of social media is certainly a commendation for the department, when your fees are over £10,000 a year, you would hope that that wouldn’t be the only source of information. Especially as fewer and fewer people are using facebook (due to its privacy laws).
As The Beaver apparently once published – There are four types of people at LSE: those that want to make a million; those that want to make a billion; those that want to rule the world; and those that want to save the world. Perhaps that is the layer of unease and awkwardness that seems to affect most of the students, the desire for everyone studying in the courses to ‘prove’ themselves. Competitive tendencies flow high, and the eagerness to get into high pay jobs seems to be a key driving factor for most students present. And if not, the insecurities and perfectionism that most students seem to suffer from are particularly obvious.
Freshers Fair is another example of the individuality of LSE. The sports societies were give the same status as the career societies, as both were forced to hold a stand outside. By career societies, I mean societies which make sure you head into finance or banking or business – the societies that will ensure you end up in a highly paid position. Somehow the life and soul of being at university – the radicalism and the freedoms that seem so evident at every other university – is missing. Instead there is this mellow desire to accept the status quo, and indeed, use it for your own gain.
It’s not that LSE is bad, but that the SU could do much to improve the postgraduate student welfare. My ideas would include:
- A SU guide sent with the Welcome Pack to all accepted students.
- Holding Freshers Fair not on the first couple of days of term.
- Informing students about the ULU Freshers Fair (that runs before term starts)
- Providing free confidence in English lessons for international students
- A set of events organised for Postgraduates, not just a “party”
- Free introduction to Moodle & LSE for You guide (perhaps provided by LSE student services)
- Giving every Fresher a guide to sustainable living in London.
- Holding a trial to societies week – similar to UCLU and ULU’s taster weeks where students can’t join until they’re tried the courses.
These are just some initial thoughts. What are yours?