This is a strange time of year in UK universities. Examinations have finished for students, have been followed by a period of yet more marking for academics, results have been posted and then we will soon be on to graduations (indeed some have already happened).
Whilst in previous exam seasons we have seen a number of innovations designed to help relieve students’ stress during these most difficult times, this year has, I have to say, been a little disappointing.
Just to recap then on previous developments in this key area. It all started with puppies and puppy rooms which continue to be extremely popular. Over the past few years there have been more and more unusual ways to help students relax during the stressful period of examinations and beyond puppy rooms we have seen petting zoos, bubble wrap for popping and lots of colouring options.
Other similar examples identified recently by EAB include:
The University of Southern California brought in a goldendoodle to serve as an official wellness dog at the university’s Office of Wellness and Health Promotion.
Roosevelt University offers Play-Doh, coloring, and cookie decorating, and Northwestern offers Lego building and board games.
Shoreline Community College is inviting students to a session of the “marshmallow challenge” in which students try to build a tower out of marshmallows, dry spaghetti, and string.
Hunter College offers free coffee and cookies during finals week.
Florida State University rolled out a whole calendar of Harry Potter-themed events this year, including: Quidditch Ring Toss; Harry Potter arts and crafts; Lego Hogwarts castle-building; and Harry Potter-themed snacks (such as pretzel wands).
Almost as creative are the Glasgow University Students’ Representative Council who last year delivered a fantastic range of activities including:
- Group knitting sessions, yoga and letting loose with a Muay Thai punch pad.
- A doodle board in the library so that students can let off steam through art.
- A screening of the latest Sir David Attenborough as the fifth instalment of Planet Earth 2 was aired.
- A bouncy castle event.
But the best of all of these stress relief activities was the deployment by Roosevelt University of miniature therapy horses at its Chicago campus; Northwestern University also invited miniature therapy horses to campus last year.
We’ve come a long way beyond puppy rooms therefore, including the development of allowing emotional support animals in halls
Addressing demands for a different form of relaxation some universities are offering nap rooms for students. Last year, the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) introduced a nap room at its campus, where students can book an hour slot in a room with mats and pillows.
Others are addressing students’ need to relax in their library facilities as for example at Berkeley where, in redesigning their undergraduate library, the university has moved a lot of books out and brought in exciting furniture, including nap pods for students.
These are going to be really popular I suspect.
But the best innovation of late is a little more active. KAIST, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, one of the leading universities in South Korea, has installed karaoke booths to enable students to let off steam.
This seems to me to be an outstanding development and a bargain too with a two song session costing just 500 won (about 35p):
These facilities, which open at noon and close at two in the morning, consist of seven karaoke booths of different capacity, ranging from small one-person rooms to larger ones that can accommodate up to six people.
Packed with classic K-pop hits such as “Cherry Blossom Ending” by Busker Busker, the karaoke machines allow students to belt out their favorite numbers as loud as they want in the confined space.
Im Tae-shik, a student at KAIST, said, “When I’m stressed or annoyed, I often go to a coin singing room to release stress. I’m happy that we have karaoke booths on campus.”
Another student named Yu, who came to use a karaoke room with a friend, said, “I came to enjoy the coin singing room service between lectures today after hearing about the opening earlier.”
“I love that I don’t have to travel all the way to city center for a karaoke room,” he added.
“The trial run has been so well-received we are confident we can make a profit from now on,” student body president Jo Yeong-deuk said.
“All the proceeds will go towards student welfare.”
How long before a UK university follows suit? It can only be a winner (although the K-pop will have to be rationed, obviously).