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Students tackle issues close to the heart in State of the Campus project

5 October 2015

State of the Campus, 2015
Students from the School of Social Sciences analyse data during State of the Campus 2015

For a number of years the School of Sciences has run the ‘State of the Campus’ research project in the first week of term for returning second year students.

This annual week of activity, supported by Citizens Cymru, sees students take a topic important to their community to campaign for change. This year’s campaign focussed on the quality of student housing, safety and security, and relationships with letting agents.

Over five days the students collected over 200 images, carried out over 200 qualitative interviews and gathered over 1,000 survey responses from undergraduate students across the University campus. A number of recurring themes came up, including the poor condition of student properties, relationships between tenants and landlords, including issues with contracts

The culmination of the week’s hard work was presented through poster campaigns in the School of Social Sciences and at a Citizen Assembly to an audience of University staff, students and external stakeholders. 

Professor Amanda Coffey, Head of the School of Social sciences, attended the assembly and said: “The State of the Campus project is a great way to reintroduce our second year undergraduate students to the research environment. Working collaboratively, students undertake primary research on issues that affect them, and get the opportunity to see how research can be impactful."

The data collected during the project will be used to inform future action by students, including hosting a housing summit with students, landlords, letting agents, the students’ union and relevant authorities later this academic session, and engaging with local councillors, MPs and AMS. During the Citizen Assembly a tweet was also sent to all local AMs about including letting agencies in the Renting Homes Bill.

Dr Luke Sloan, Senior Lecturer in Quantitative Methods and academic lead for the project said: “State of the Campus is an incredibly important ‘learning through doing’ experience for our students. Learning about how to operationalise a research project and how to collect data in the field cannot happen effectively in a lecture – students need to be immersed in the process to gain a deeper understanding of the interplay between data and methods.

The vast quantity of data obtained and the impressive amount of analysis conducted is testament to the ability and effort of our students and they now have the opportunity to take the issues they identified forward with the support of a large amount of empirical evidence. We are very proud of what they have managed to achieve in a single week.”

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