ARU Director of Student Services, Julie Walkling, (@) admitted during a meeting with parents that lecture rooms and other space within the university campus is currently underutilised. The nursery building is a specialist space designed and maintained to be a secure and appropriate environment for young children. Re-purposing this space removes valuable “nursery ready” premises in Cambridge- something that is not easy to re-instate. There is capacity and space to use alternative rooms on campus that would work effectively as a student lounge and allow the nursery space to remain unchanged
There is overwhelming evidence of the value of placing nurseries on campuses. For more information, please see the Nuffield Foundation’s work on this subject here or view other work by Dr Marie-Pierre Moreau of the University of Roehampton whose child attended ARU nursery. moreau_family_friendly_universityNUS or SPB Supporting Student Parents
IT’S MORALLY INDEFENSIBLE
Anglia Ruskin University is an education establishment whose aim is to provide opportunity for self improvement to society. It is completely indefensible for a publicly funded institution such as ARU to exchange the future of some of their most deserving students for a student lounge.
IT REDUCES ACCESSIBILITY
The nursery directly enables students and staff who might not otherwise be able to study or work to be part the university. Young parents, low income families, single parents and those whose children have special needs are all disproportionally impacted by this decision.
IT’S AN ARBITRARY DECISION
There is no evidence that the student body supports this. The student union is strongly opposed to this. There has been no consultation. As evidence ARU management point to requests from students for more “social space”, but crucially there is no evidence that students support this coming at the expense of the nursery. Their fellow students will be forced to abandon their studies, their lecturers may have to quit, and community families may have to stop working. Students do not support this.
IT COULD BE OUTSOURCED
With dedicated and safe space, an inspection regime in place, staff and management protocols established, and a track record of success, it is highly likely that the nursery could be managed by another provider as an ongoing business. This would remove any financial burden on ARU, as well as providing them with rent for the site. The university could then directly subsidise student and staff places in order to broaden accessibility as per the original aims of the nursery. Local city councillor Richard Robertson has already spoken to other nursery providers who expressed an interest in potentially taking over the ARU nursery.