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Fire alarms at Penrhyn Road cut expensive class time

By River Reporter Mar 7, 2013

Falsely activated fire alarms anger students who lose tuition time.

Joe Stanley-Smith

Fire alarms went off four times last week at Penrhyn Road, potentially “costing” students hundreds of pounds in tuition fees.

If an international student was unlucky enough to have four lectures disturbed by fire alarms they could lose up to £280 worth of tuition time.

“It’s an inexcusable waste of my study time. It’s annoying when you’re in the library, but even worse when a lecture is disrupted,” said Roisin Carden, a second-year sociology and media student.

Burned pizza

Students were exasperated by the frequent fire evacuations, which the University said were due to various reasons such as a burned pizza and contractors accidentally setting off alarms at Penrhyn Road when testing the fire alarm system.

A University spokeswoman said: “We appreciate it is frustrating when a fire alarm is falsely activated, but unfortunately these incidences do happen at institutions with a large number of people. It is wrong to assume that these incidences are representative of the frequency or causes of false alarms at the University.” 

No compensation

An international student paying the maximum £12,350 fees with eight hours of lectures per week pays £70 per hour of tuition. A second or third-year home or EU student with eight contact hours per week pays £20 an hour, and a first-year student with 20 hours of contact per week pays £43 for each contact hour.

There is currently no compensation available for tuition hours disrupted by fire alarms. 

The KU spokeswoman added: “The break glass in the food store will get a protective cover to reduce the likelihood of a repeat. With the other cases, we’ve simply been unlucky this week.”

“We are doing what we can”

Studying for a degree is not only about contact hours per week but also consists of students doing independent learning and research.

“No-one wants to be interrupted needlessly, and we are doing what we can to avoid that, but we also need co-operation from students to help us achieve this,” the University spokeswoman added.

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