Unwelcome Week: Returning students excluded from Freshers Week

Returning students will be unable to attend this year’s Freshers Week events.


It’s an event that thousands of Norwich second and third years look forward to.

But today UEA SU dashed hopes of getting in on Freshers Week, after Union killjoys banned anyone except first years from attending the festivities. 

Returning students who want to enjoy their first week back at UEA will either have to make their own arrangements or wait for the second week of events, after the Union announced that this year’s tickets will only be sold to freshers.

While the ‘Norwich City Freshers Week 2’ events – which run from the 29th September to 4th October – are available to all students regardless of year, the first week can only be attended by first year students.

To enforce the massively unpopular new rule, Union officials will even be checking campus cards during Welcome Week, ensuring no returning students can sneak into Freshers Week at their own uni.

Second year Psychology student Megan O’Brien said, “I’m outraged by the Union’s ridiculous decision to exclude all second and third years from Welcome Week events.

“I personally feel cheated by my SU who are supposed to have all students’ interests at heart but only seem worried about freshers.”

In a post on its website, the Union explained that “Due to the extraordinary demand and following feedback from last years’ events, our sales are restricted to first year students this year.”

This year’s Freshers Week festivities, hosted from 21st to 28th September, features a host of events such as the T-Shirt Party, the Welcome Prom and a Zane Lowe DJ set – all of which second and third years will be banned from.

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In a statement released on Facebook the UEA Union have appealed for any “non-first year” students to seek refunds for their Welcome Week tickets.

Second and third years emailing the Box Office to complain or seek guidance were met with an automated response, informing them that there was no one around to respond to emails.

Many students were also unable to get in contact by phone, which were jammed with calls, leaving hundreds of second and third years with useless tickets and no freshers week plans.

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The Union claimed the decision was down to freshers not receiving their registration emails yet.

“They get a preference over returning students, which is why tickets are being limited to freshers only.”

We then asked if non-returning students would be allowed to purchase tickets once registration links had been sent out to all freshers, to which the unbelievable response was, “We don’t know.”

With queues like this, returning students will struggle to gain entry to Freshers' Week events

With queues like this, returning students will struggle to gain entry to Freshers’ Week events

Understandably, many students are outraged at the decision. Nursing student Rosie Cook said, “This is my last Freshers at uni and I’m just disappointed because it’s a chance to catch up with everyone after summer.

“Being a nursing student we miss out on a lot of the bigger events such as Xmas LCR and Pimp My Barrow because of my placement.”

David Bean, who studied a foundation course last year and will therefore be allowed entry, said, “I’m really disappointed with the Union’s decision on this.

“I was on the foundation last year so I can get into events. I’m just fighting so that all my friends can go too. It’s no good me getting in and none of my friends.”

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UEA Union claims that it’s concerned with “ensuring that students have a number of different ways to feed into [its] decisions” and “ensuring that [it is] in touch with issues that affects all members”.

However reactions on social media show students feel alienated by the Union following its decision.

“My Freshers Week experience was made all the better by being able to socialize with all year groups. The Union has made an idiotic choice and can now wave goodbye to UEA’s good student satisfaction ratings.”

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Activities and Opportunities Officer Yinbo Yu told us, “We are not denying returning students entry to Welcome Week events, we’re selling advanced tickets to freshers first to make sure they get their spaces.”

In a statement released just moments ago, SU confirmed that for second and third years wanting to attend Freshers events, the only option is to wait it out.

“You’ll need to wait until the night of the event and see if there are still spaces available.

“If the event you want to go to isn’t sold out, you’ll be able to purchase on the door.”

However they add that due to the huge popularity of Welcome Week events they “anticipate that they will sell out”.

Although student outrage has been aimed at the Union and its officers, The Tab can reveal that part-time officers were unaware of the decision, with many being against it.

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Understandably, first year students are more sympathetic to the Union U-turn. First year student Erin Fitzsimmons said, “On the most basic level, I think it’s important for us, as freshers, to meet other freshers.

“In my opinion it is ultimately a fairer system.”

What do you think? Is it fair that returning students look unlikely to get entry into Welcome Week events? Let us know in the comments below.