Space for Study

14 February 2018

The construction of a new student precinct, beginning this year, has triggered discussions regarding the future of study spaces on campus.

A University spokesperson confirmed that several surveys of the student body were held in late 2017, with the results clearly indicating that this issue is of high priority.

“To date more than 5,000 students have participated in co-creation initiatives [such as] large-scale surveys and smaller discrete activities,” the spokesperson said.

“Co-creation findings indicated that students would like increased hours and access to both formal and informal study spaces [and] fair access to these spaces.”

“The new student precinct project [is] a matter of balancing study needs with other needs, including activation and engagement spaces for students … We are looking at how spaces can be multi-use to get the best outcome during peak and non-peak study times.”

Study spaces have been of concern for many years. Multiple Flexible Academic Programming Project papers released last year referred to the severely overtaxed spaces currently available.

The ‘Optimising Physical Infrastructure’ paper claimed that informal study spaces were exceeding capacity, recommending significant investment in this area.

“Study spaces are an ongoing priority of the University … Library study spaces on the Parkville campus were increased from 3,790 in 2013 to 5,120 in 2016,” the spokesperson said.

Despite initial concerns, the University confirmed that interruptions to existing learning spaces would not occur due to the project until 2019.

“The student precinct project … will look at how to offset any loss with additional permanent and/or temporary spaces to ensure students’ academic activity is not compromised,” the University said in response to potential loss of study spaces while construction is ongoing.

“From what I’ve heard, there will not be an interruption to the study spaces in the [Eastern Resource Centre],” University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) President Desiree Cai said.

“The noise level of construction may be an issue, but the student precinct project has put in noise monitoring and restricted noisy hours for construction.”

“A lack of study spaces at University is an ongoing concern for UMSU … students find it hard to study on campus because of the limited spaces,” Cai said.

The University claims that the project will provide over 1,000 additional internal study spaces for students when it opens in a few years.

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