Six hundred study places were lost on campus following the closure of the Polak Building last Thursday evening, which is a problem as many students are due to sit examinations soon. Where should the students go? How busy is it in the University Library and how are things going in the other campus study places?

Claiming a place

Argentinian student, Lucia Barabini (Master’s degree Accounting & Auditing) is working at a computer in the UL. “The UL is fantastic. There’s a great atmosphere and it’s really quiet. You just need to make sure you get here really early if you still want to find a place. I was here at ten o’clock and it was already really difficult to find a place.”

All UL places are indeed occupied and there is a constant stream of students walking past the tables, searching in vain for a place. An unattended notebook has been left at a study place on the second floor. According to students sitting nearby, the notebook has been there for two hours. Students walking by look angrily at the notebook, but the sacred law of claiming the place by setting a notebook down still isn’t broken.

But the busier it gets in the UL, the more difficult it is to accept the unattended notebook. “How long has it been there?”, a passing student asked, agitated. Finally, the notebook is shoved roughly aside. “Yeah, I’m sorry”, says the student. “But it’s overloaded here and it’s a real waste if there are places that haven’t been used for two hours.”

Extremely busy

“It was always busy here, but it’s now extremely busy”, explained UL Director, Matthijs van Otegem. “Starting this week, we have introduced a new policy to make sure that study places are not left unused. Claimed places that are not used for more than half an hour will be cleared away by UL staff. This will enable as many students as possible to study for as long as possible in the UL.”

Structural problem

It’s not only the UL that has taken measures to absorb the pressure created by the Polak closure; the university has also sprung into action. New study places have been created in the Sanders Building and G Building, and G Building opening times have been extended.

Yrla van de Ven and the Cypriot Alexandros Achilleos, who both study Policy & Economics, are standing outside the G Building during their break. They think the past week has been really busy because of the Polak building closure. “But”, said Yrla, “I think it’s a structural problem due to the growth in international student numbers in recent years.”

“G Building is always forgotten by students because it’s so old and ugly.”

Oscar Schyns

“Dutch students often still live with their parents and have a quiet place there when they want to study”, explained Yria. “Internationals like Alexandros are new here and don’t know anyone here, so they’re more likely to go to the university to study. And the university isn’t adapting enough to this; the new UL simply hasn’t been allocated enough study places.”

Old and ugly

Like the UL, G Building is busy but there are still quite a few places available, certainly in the computer rooms. “G Building is always forgotten by students because it’s so old and ugly,” explained econometrics student, Oscar Schyns. “That’s why there is always a place in the computer rooms.”

Philosophy and business administration student, Ruud Verbraak, is sitting with a co-student downstairs in the G Building in a small, private study room. “This old building is ideal for studying. It’s usually really quiet and there’s nothing else to focus on than the work you have to do. You’ll quickly get bored of staring at the walls or the view”, said Ruud.

Difficulty concentrating

By Wednesday afternoon, the study area on the Sanders Building ground floor has already been discovered by many students. Two hopeful students retreat disillusioned when they see how busy the brand new area is. They try the final place on campus where there may still be study places; M Building.

On the M Building second floor, IBCoM student, Joyce van Dalen is studying at a long table. “It’s quiet now”, she explained. “But this morning it was completely full. Where I’m sitting now was the only place that was free.” Joyce doesn’t think the building is a good study place: “I’m only here today because I had a lecture here. It’s really difficult to concentrate here because there are no quiet areas and too many people just talk loudly to each other.”