The beginning of an academic year anywhere around the world, whether it be Tokyo, London or NYC, is quite a familiar sight: hundreds of doe-eyed, innocent, enthusiastic students thrust into the higher educational system like little ugly ducklings sent to become swans. Most of us, unfortunately, will emerge still ducks, albeit perhaps a slightly more intelligent kind.
Whereas ducklings have a caring mother (to continue with the animal analogy), many students are simply thrown out in the unknown world and expected to fend for themselves. This applies to foreign students in particular, or students from rural areas who need to quickly familiarise themselves with a new environment and sometimes even a new language and culture.
Certainly, universities try (dare I say their best?) to soften the hardship of such a journey – through links and staff ready to steer us little ducklings stolen from our natural environment. Perhaps one of the most important facilities universities offer, though, is the accommodation system: not only because students are stereotypically poor, but, as I’ve said before, it can be quite difficult for students from other places to try and find somewhere suitable (if anything at all).
At first, this was going to be a grand speech against the tyrannical, oppressive services offered at Monash. As a debater, I am fairly used to constantly accusing anyone who disagrees as spouting slanderous lies. I will try my best to provide in this case a balanced account of the quality, even though I ultimately think that Monash Residential (MRS) fails in its purported scope. It is also important to acknowledge that Monash Residential seems to operate separately from the University itself.
No matter how hard I try, I can’t help but see MRS as a sort of drug trafficking mob – abusing a system that steers countless students towards their “warm” embrace and profiteering on their innocence.
The reason is quite simple: the price for a room, in Howitt Hall for example (which has 11 floors and about 18 rooms per floor) is $900 per month. That’s more than $16,000 a month per floor.
This is a stupendous amount of money. Take these comparisons: I previously lived in London in another university halls, in the area of London Bridge, in more or less the identical type of room, and paid only $680 a month. My current room in Collingwood (double in size) is roughly the same as what I paid in Clayton. And a very quick search on Gumtree reveals rooms in the area for aroound $500 a month.
With this information, you can see it’s overpriced. And sure enough, many foreign students will look for rooms in halls because they don’t know anyone in this country and it’s very difficult to obtain rent without a previous rental history. Universities can also seem more “trustworthy” than other real estate providers like Gumtree.
Sure, Monash Res is close to the university, but Clayton Campus is literally in the middle of nowhere. No shops (except for those provided on campus), no restaurants, no real connection to any kind of other life in Melbourne (I finally understand why everyone was telling me Clayton isn’t Melbourne). Public transport isn’t necessarily the most efficient in the suburbs of Melbourne. If you have a car, it’s all dandy – but again, most foreign students don’t.
Halls offers you contact with many other students – including having many parties and Hall representatives (who are more or less useless depending on the person) and such. Yet this again does not justify why it should be so expensive, especially since university itself offers a great social life (there’s countless clubs and societies one can join).
I have always been a great advocate for going to halls in your first year. Undoubtedly it is a life experience and an opportunity to meet many people. However, the moment you overcharge for this experience you fail in your duty to give students the opportunity to have a decent, inexpensive life during university.
Where I come from, halls are so coveted exactly because there is nothing cheaper nearby. Their location, the possibilities they offer, they all become valuable exactly because they are cheap. The situation here just seems to me unbefitting of such a grand university.