By Ross Logan , Reporter
Friday, April 27, 2012
STUDENTS at the University of Hertfordshire would NOT recommend the institution to prospective new undergraduates – because there’s nothing to do in Hatfield.
"“Most university students are able to enjoy life on campus and in and around Hatfield.
However, I’m sure that any success in developments such as the Mary Portas town centre bid will be welcomed by the whole community.”"
That was the surprise admission by third year students during a focus group attended by the Welwyn Hatfield Times.
While they would recommend the uni based purely on its educational merit, the group said there was little in the way of shopping or leisure facilities to draw them to the town centre.
And most admitted they went home at weekends to socialise rather than stay in Times Territory.
The seven students had been brought together by Welwyn Hatfield Cllr Lynne Sparks, leader of Hatfield’s Town Team for the Portas Pilot bid.
She organised the focus group in order to gather feedback from students on what they would like to see in Hatfield town centre.
Suggestions ranged from designer and high street clothes stores and cafes, to cheaper bus fares, student-friendly pubs and leisure activities such as bowling and pool.
There was also a call for more lighting in the town centre, to make people, particularly young women, feel safer when walking alone at night.
There was a positive response to several of the ideas included in Hatfield’s bid, in particular, giving business students and entrepreneurs a chance to test their product using pop up stalls at Hatfield market, and making the town a wi-fi hotspot.
But all seven students said they never travelled to Hatfield town centre unless they were getting their shopping from Asda.
More worryingly, several students had never heard of Hatfield House, while others had no idea where it was located.
“The students had a lot of interesting stuff to say,” Cllr Sparks said after the meeting.
“We got a lot out of it and there’s a lot we can follow up.
“I was surprised so many students go home at weekends because there’s nothing to do, and it’s interesting that they want variety – they don’t all just want to go the The Forum [the uni’s student bar].
“They all go to Asda, but half didn’t know that anything else existed near it.
“They asked for better signage and information, which is in the bid anyway. A lot of what was said has really reinforced what we’re already doing.”