Research into Welsh-medium accommodation released by Pantycelyn Project Board

Pantycelyn Residence. Credit: Rebecca James

Pantycelyn Residence. Credit: Rebecca James

A BUSINESS consultancy firm which has been conducting researching into perceptions relating to Welsh-medium accommodation and social space at Aberystwyth has presented its final report to the University.

Commissioned in autumn 2015 by the Pantycelyn Project Board, Old Bell 3 have now completed their independent report, coordinating the development of plans for the provision of designated Welsh medium accommodation and social spaces at Aberystwyth University.

panty22

Students filled the corridors during last year’s Occupy Pantycelyn protest. Credit: Alex Tanton

The Board was formed after the closure of the Welsh-medium halls at the end of the previous academic year, sparking student protests and other university buildings being the site of peaceful sit-ins. Picket lines were present on campus for days following the announcement on May 21st and there were calls from teaching staff for a clear commitment to be made by the university to maintaining the Welsh-medium accommodation.

The aim of the study was to look into the needs of prospective Welsh-speaking students with regard to accommodation and social space for the next forty years and to enrich the experience of the University’s Welsh-speaking students.

The study included an online questionnaire, a series of individual interviews, and focus groups with students and staff at the University, and in secondary schools and a further education college. Over 600 individuals contributed to the fieldwork which was undertaken during November and December 2015.

Old Bell 3 presented its findings to the Pantycelyn Project Board during a meeting held on 15 January 2016. The full report, as well as a copy of the presentation delivered to the Project Board at its meeting, is available on the University site here.

The report deals with the structure of the accommodation and social space that would be available to residents, and considers the growth in Welsh medium higher education, recent trends in student accommodation and specific examples of accommodation for minority language groups ​​or minority groups in other countries.

The Pantycelyn Project Board will now be drawing on the recommendations in Old Bell 3’s report to develop a design brief. This will be taken forward immediately in order to meet the timetable agreed in June 2015 between the Chair of the University’s Council, Sir Emyr Jones Parry, and the student representatives.

The report has been welcomed by Gwerfyl Pierce Jones, Pro Chancellor of Aberystwyth University and Chair of the Pantycelyn Project Board:

“I would like to thank everyone who contributed to this comprehensive report. The number and breadth of responses received has been very encouraging and reflects the importance of Aberystwyth University to the community.”

“This independent report makes a number of valuable recommendations and I’m delighted that they have been approved by the Project Board as being suitable for further consideration by architects in order to have the appropriate advice on how these recommendations can be taken forward at Pantycelyn. The Project Board’s next task will be to present a final design brief to the University’s Council during the summer.”

Hanna Merrigan, UMCA President and member of the Project Board, said:

“I welcome Old Bell 3’s report and I’m pleased that they consulted widely and took the views of students, staff, and the wider community into account. I hope that it will be possible to realise as many of the recommendations as possible within the Pantycelyn building.”