The Big Robinson Survey exposes big problems
70 per cent of respondents believe that the College prioritises conferences over students
The Big Robinson Survey has revealed the startling extent to which Robinson students feel neglected by their College.
Undertaken by the Robinson College Students’ Association (RCSA) in December 2018, the survey gauged student satisfaction in four key areas: College life, rent, academic life and welfare.
The survey, published on 18th January, exposes the astounding extent to which Robinson students feel overlooked by their College.
Only one tenth of respondents agreed that the College prioritises student interests over conferencing; a mere 36 per cent of those surveyed felt that the Robinson staff "understand their concerns and experiences".
Prevalent throughout the survey's results is the sense that Robinson students feel disconnected from their staff. Given 60 per cent responded that attending Cambridge University had negatively impacted their mental health, this disengagement between students and staff is particularly alarming.
Urgent concerns were also raised by the student responses surrounding rent. 30 per cent of respondents recalled that paying their rent had caused them "significant stress or concerns", and almost a quarter reported that they would have preferred a room with lower rent, but were unable to choose one due to limited rooms available.
Whilst the RCSA reached a settlement with the College in 2017 regarding room prices, only 17 per cent of those surveyed felt this had resolved their concerns about the expense of living in Robinson.
Understandably, Robinson's Cut the Rent campaign has been reinvigorated by the survey's findings. A representative of the College Cut the Rent campaign commented: "Robinson has consistently…placed the living situation of students as second priority. Instead they have chosen to spend on new conferencing facilities that are inaccessible to students, all whilst paying the highest salary to the master of any college. This exposes the elitism of an institution that penalises students from lower income backgrounds, but the new data mandates us to keep fighting for a fairer deal."
RCSA President Thomas Hinch remains optimistic that there is potential to rectify the grievances raised, saying: "The RCSA has put a lot of time and effort into collecting this survey and clearly the data highlights a number of areas to work on. We're concerned by a number of our findings, but hopeful we can work constructively with College to make Robinson an even better place for students."
More broadly, the survey's results raise further questions about student welfare across Cambridge. The college system is designed to provide students with close-knit communities and accessible support, particularly given the University's inevitable academic pressure.
The RCSA's findings are cause for all colleges to reflect upon whether they are truly putting student welfare first.
Cover photo: Source.