That’s the question I’ve been asked most when talking to people during the first few weeks of term
A lot and not much is the answer
If a student from the seventies who’d never been back was suddenly teleported to land in front of the Students’ Union and looked right, they would find very little difference. They would recognise the Library, the Chapel, the Walter Moberly (‘wobbly mobbly’), Tawney and Chancellor’s buildings. OK the Chancellor’s has had an extension, there’s a new (Claus Moser) building and the huts have been demolished in favour of a very pleasant Cherry Tree Walk, but things are substantially the same
The Students’ Union building is exactly the same as it’s been since the extension was built in 1975, right down to the same number of bars inside
However, if the student looked left it’s a different story. On what, in the seventies, were grassy green hills stretching away into the distance are now car parks and a whole host of new buildings including a Management School, a Medical School, a ‘Sustainability Hub’, a Day Nursery and a Science and Innovation Park with high spec offices and laboratories for companies to rent
The Halls of Residence are pretty much unchanged. Yes, there are more blocks in Horwood and Barnes and a whole new Hall of Residence (Holly Cross & the Oaks). Lindsay and ‘Thorns appear not been touched by the sands of time! The Sports Centre is largely unchanged, with just the addition of one sports hall and a superb 4g floodlit training facility
What HAS changed is the student body. When I came in 1971 there were 1,623 (86%) undergraduates and 275 (14%) postgraduates, a grand total of 1898 students (my school was bigger than that!) Of these 1151 were men and 747 women. Only 55 (3%) came from abroad and 1542 (81%) lived on campus
It is difficult to find precise numbers these days (why?) but the best I’ve got is that last year there were around 7500 (76%) undergraduates and 2400 (24%) postgraduates (i.e. far more postgrads now than total students in 1971). 82% of students are full time while 18% are part time, figures which are exactly the same for UK students and International students. So not only has the size of the student body quintupled, but the cultural diversity has increased exponentially, especially if you factor in the make up of the UK students. I have no official figures to back this up, but when I came the student bosy was overwhelmingly, and I mean overwhelmingly, white Anglo-Saxon. Now it is very different
Also, with around 3000 rooms on campus, now around 70% of students live off campus
The other change I’ve seen is that students with disabilities are catered for much better than in the seventies (when, let’s face it, they weren’t catered for at all). All doors have automatic push button opening, there are ramps, lifts etc.
So that’s it. Changes I’ve seen so far. For me personally, the biggest is that, because the Union hasn’t changed at all, it’s much more difficult to get served on a busy night!