The Easter break is behind us now as I write, when the campus had never been quieter. Quite a contrast to how it is now in the exam term, but this is to be expected. Yet, I had these thoughts about it over the break and somehow didn’t hit “post”, but it is better late than never.
There are still two main things to say about the LSE campus: it is small and it is busy. Whether possessing these two qualities means something positive or negative for campus life depends on the person, I think, but reflecting further on it here I give a few impressions of how the campus has related to my education experience so far.
Regarding “small”, I have found that this has meant the campus site is easily navigable. I’m not sure about other departments, but certainly for my courses in Social Policy, all my lectures, seminars and meetings tended to happen in or around the same areas. I don’t feel that any place or room is very far away, and it does not take much learning or time to recognise the codes and the buildings and get a sense of where they are. Of course, others may have a different experience here.
Another consequence of the small size of the campus is that I have found that I often bump into people I know or who are from my course. Now, on my course there are just 13 participants, so regularly bumping into them outside of class time is something that only happens on small campuses. I have attended larger universities and because they were so spread out you really had to plan to meet up with others, your paths never crossed. So although the campus is really just a collection of buildings located in and around the same streets, generally most of the people you see as you walk around are students or those connected to LSE. So it has a campus feel.
Another consequence of the “small” size of the campus, in my view, is that space is at a premium. The buildings are expanding and there is a lot of development works going on, so perhaps there is less space than in previous years, but certainly it is true that finding a place to sit and study in peace and quiet, without being surrounded by lots of people, is a challenge some of the time. The options are: pick off-peak times to study at campus, visit other study places or the libraries of other universities or connected institutions, or study at home. Naturally, it is part of the study life to visit the library (some of the time), but the library is often very busy and is quite often used as a social space by the students. Nothing wrong with that, just something to be mindful of. Since I’ve been here the library has made some changes to the space already to give more place for students to study – this was both necessary and urgent (I sometimes walk from floor to floor, up and down, trying to find a space to sit at, before giving up), but the truth is there just aren’t enough study spaces for the number of students here. No worries! Ever the optimist, I study in other places – I like coffee shops, the British Library, Senate House Library, UCL library (though it is also busy at the moment).
So yes, it is a small and busy campus, and it’s good the university is investing in buildings. It will be interesting to see how all of this works for students.