Tag Archives: exclusion

Accommodating Students: recent trends and the University of the Channel Islands

by Fiona Ferbrache

Queen Margaret University Accommodation

Queen Margaret University Accommodation

Like many Channel Islanders, I attended university in the UK as there is no such establishment in the islands. Proposals are in place, however, to realise ‘The University of the Channel Islands in Guernsey’ – an institution that would eventually host up to 2,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students (from across the globe).

Accommodating students can be challenging anywhere, but the issues are often intensified on an island where space and land are at a premium.  While there has been much positive feedback for the proposals, concerns have been raised over where students would live, and what impact they might have on the existing community. In a radio broadcast, Susan Jackson (Executive Project Director) commented: “we will be very careful about preserving Guernsey as it is now” and “we aim to insert ourselves delicately in all around existing structures”.  These intentions differ to current trends of UK studentification, identified by Smith & Hubbard (2014), but I argue that this might be a key marketing perspective for the Islands’ University.

Providing an overview of student housing markets since the 1990s, Smith and Hubbard identify a shift from the integration of students within socially mixed neighbourhoods, to concentrations of student accommodation in purpose-built blocks, often on the margins of other social groups. This trend towards segregated living has had considerable consequences on social relations between students and longer-term residents.

In the case of Guernsey, there seems little inclination (or scope to build at the margins) to construct purpose-built student accommodation.  Hence, it seems likely that students and existing populations will have to reside more closely. Although Smith and Hubbard note that students appear to like living apart, the opportunities for students to live among Islanders could be employed as a key marketing strategy for the University of the Channel Islands.  Rather than a life apart, it might be an opportunity for students to interact with longer-term residents through daily encounters, and to the benefit of both groups.

 60-world2 BBC Radio Guernsey: Plans for a Channel Island University in Guernsey

60-world2  Channel Island ‘well equipped’ for university students

60-world2  The University of the Channel Islands in Guernsey – Vision statement 

books_icon  Smith, D. P. & Hubbard, P. 2014 The segregation of educated youth and dynamic geographies of studentification. Area. DOI: 10.1111/area.1205

The geographies of schools

By Rosa Mas Giralt

BBC2 is currently showing a number of documentaries and dramas under the banner of School Season. The programmes focus on the current education system in the UK and explore issues around schools, parents, teachers and pupils. So far, there have been very interesting contributions such as John Humphry’s documentary Unequal Opportunities examining the reasons why there continues to be great differences between the educational attainment of advantaged and disadvantaged pupils; although completely engaging and illuminating, the programme exposed once more that, without adequate resources and investment, improving the educational opportunities of children from disadvantaged backgrounds is very difficult to achieve. Another absorbing programme was the drama Excluded, which focused on an inner-city school and a pupil who faced exclusion for his disruptive behaviour, showing the complexity of issues that may affect a young person’s life and the difficult task of those in the teaching profession who need to make decisions which can be life-changing for pupils. The season continues and most of the programmes can be watched on the BBC website (for a limited number of days) or they can be downloaded from the BBC iPlayer.

The sub-discipline of children’s geographies has provided influential research aimed at deepening our understanding of the lives, experiences, identities and spaces/places of young people and has foregrounded their capabilities as social actors on their own right. A recent contribution to this scholarship is an article by Barker et al. (2010) in the current issue of Area. This paper explores a new internal space created in some schools in which pupils, who have been temporarily excluded (fix-term exclusions), can be confined, the so called “Seclusion Units”. Using a Foucauldian approach, the authors map these spaces, explore their surveillance and power structures and the possibilities for resistance which pupils have within them. Importantly, the authors find commonalities between the spatial practices of these units and those of other penal spaces such as prisons; this leads them to issue a call for a “moral debate about the desirability of these contemporary educational practices” (2010: 385), a debate which seems crucial.

 Visit the BBC’s School Season website to discover more about the programmes

 Read John Barker et al. (2010) “Pupils or prisoners? Institutional geographies and internal exclusion in UK secondary schools”. Area. 42(3): 378-386

Geographies of Disability – India

by Michelle Brooks

Recent headlines in India about a disabled boy who was refused entry to a temple have raised questions around the wider problem of social stigma concerning disability in India. Temple authorities in Mysore, south-west India are reported to have forcibly removed the wheel-chair bound boy and his family later claiming that issues of access and language barriers had precipitated this action. The numbers of people living with disabilities in India could be as high as 90 million (World Bank 2007), however, due to the stigma attached to disability in India this number is contested. Political will to improve the social and economic wellbeing of disabled people is evidenced in for example, landmark legislation to protect the disabled (1995) and ratification of the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities (2006) yet despite this many Indian states have failed to implement policy requirements and guidelines in this area.

It can be argued that implementing such policies is greatly hampered by lingering social reluctance to accept disabled people as legitimate actors in public space, forcing them to live on the margins of mainstream society experiencing a greater degree of poverty and social exclusion than others in their age /regional/caste or class grouping. Additionally disabled women are severely disadvantaged further by disability, through vulnerability to various forms of abuse and then often also lose the right to care for their children (UN Enable 2006). Much work has been done in geography on disability issues and the social separation experienced as a result. In an interesting article for Area, Edward Hall (2004) highlights social exclusion of the disabled but then problematises social exclusion policy, drawing attention to the focus on employment as a method of ‘inclusion’  in UK policy which does not address the social support that can be gained through the informal sector.  Likewise in India, policy reflects state logic the implementation of which (or lack of) in turn is a reflection of wider societal stigma. Categorising disability in India largely occurs in childhood and is determined as a condition whereby the person suffers less than 40% in any ability, a certificate is issued and the disability is rarely assessed again (Ministry of Law and Justice 1996). This hints at the assumption by the state that the disability is fixed and the problems associated with it lie in stasis throughout the persons life course. It is therefore regarded as a condition arising from the persons being or natural state, rather than polysemic or changeable and indeed having a life course of its own.

In diseases such as Polio in which symptoms worsen with time and Cerebral Palsy where assessment must take place over time until adulthood policy implementation presents the disabled person with a serious disadvantage. The aligning of the characteristics of the disability with that of the problems experienced by the individual absolves society of social impacts felt by the disabled such as abuse, exclusion, employment discrimination or educational shortfalls. This fatalist approach perpetuates commonly held perceptions in the public consciousness that disability is an affliction brought about by moral or religious shortcomings.  The headline story was in fact about someone with cerebral palsy, where sadly the ocular symptoms of the disease can mask a fully active and able mind, one for whom exclusion from the cultural and spiritual stimulus of a temple  (as sought by the parents in this case) is indeed a great injustice.