University Colleges: How They Differ

Roosevelt Academy, Middelburg

By Maddie Melton & Hans van Deursen

On November 21st, we travelled to the far reaches of the Netherlands to explore Roosevelt Academy, a University College of 600 students. It is situated in the booming metropolis of Middelburg, a city in the southwest with a population of 48,000. As the second University College of Utrecht University, Roosevelt Academy’s academic structure is very similar to ours here at UCU. The student experience in Middelburg, however, is incomparable.

We spoke to two students at UCR, first years Maddy Slot and Lizette Krist, who gave us a tour of the city, the college, and the halls of residence. One of the most striking differences is that their campus is integrated into the city itself, and thus is very unlike our bubble. Maddy described the city as the campus. However, Middelburg itself is very isolated, and can therefore be considered the UCR’s own larger bubble within the Netherlands. 

Because UCR does not have a gated campus as we do, student accommodation is provided through a housing corporation, with whom the school has a contract. This means that they have several dormitory-style residences throughout the city; ‘halls of residence’. Students are able to keep the same room for the entire three years including the summer holidays, a particular advantage for international students. We found that some of these residences are organised quite nicely. Maddy’s dormitory, for instance, has three floors and unlike UCU, each resident has access to all of them. Each floor also has its own identity: the first hosts weekly movie nights in the common room, the second has a reputation for partying, and the third is mostly occupied by members of fraternities and sororities. From what we heard, their fraternities and sororities are very similar to UCU, and about 40 members of the student body are involved.

Another significant difference is that UCR does not have a Dining Hall. While our Dining Hall, besides serving food, plays a central role in community life, students at UCR take care of their own meals. Lizette told us that two of her seventeen housemates usually cook a meal which they all eat together. The fact that they do not have a Dining Hall has its ramifications in the town of Middelburg. Many small shops have come to rely on students business. One bakery is actually moving into the student centre that is currently in development so that it can be more accessible to UCR students.

While the UCSA bar and the city of Utrecht facilitate easy access to a vibrant party culture at UCU, students at UCR have to be more creative. Hence the creation of a new student centre which will include a student bar similar to what we have here. Until it is finished students will mostly have to depend on their halls of residence, which, by the smell of them, has not hindered partying in the least!

All in all, the differences between UCU and UCR are significant, especially considering the social aspects of student life. Middelburg’s remoteness and lack of a gated campus turn the whole city into their bubble. We liked Middelburg and UCR’s different approach to housing and community life in general, but were nonetheless happy to return to the bustling student life in Utrecht and UCU.

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