Keeping control of safety on campus

Peter Houlis, managing director of 2020 Vision, outlines the effectiveness of access control systems in protecting students

Plenty of people look back at their time at university and see them as the best days of their lives. Nevertheless, some recent stories have built up negative connotations for parents and students. For example, this recent viral video recorded attendees of Nottingham Trent University chanting racist comments in front of the door of a fellow student, Rufaro Chisango.

The distressing video highlights the sometimes negative – and potentially dangerous – side of university life. Thankfully, with the advancements in technology and the implementation of access control systems in university halls, Chisango was physically safe from any threat. Still, expectations must be higher to ensure that this type of behaviour, or risk, does not happen again.

What does an access control system offer?

In a nutshell, access control systems provide a couple of major security benefits. The first is that they can enable or prevent someone from entering or exiting a location, ranging from the whole site to a wing of a building or single room.

Secondly, and equally importantly, location movements can be monitored while a compliance audit is actioned. It can also detect any areas where improvements could be necessary.

As well as key cards, ID tags can be a useful addition when it comes to accessing a university’s hall of residence.

With the cost of entering higher education at an all-time high, the expectation is that student living standards and safety will be paramount, especially with students often – initially – having to live with strangers. According to a survey carried out by Save the Student, the average cost of renting is £131 per week, which leaves students with £8 to live on after deducting the payment from their maintenance loan.

Although students expect to have a good time at university, some behaviour clearly isn’t acceptable. It was found that 52% of students have noisy housemates, 37% of housemates steal food, 8% of students are housed in dangerous living conditions, and 6% have experienced a break-in or burglary.

These statistics indicate that many students who aren’t entirely happy with their digs, and accommodation providers are under increasing pressure to make changes.

Peter Houlis

Campus access control

As the racist chanting episode makes clear, it is critical to ensure the safety and protection of young people, as many actions are carried out without prior warning.

Student choice is a key factor. Many universities offer students the opportunity to choose their new living quarters, with factors such as gender, age and drinking preferences taken into consideration. Universities could look more at implementing further personal options that enable young people to comprehensively filter the type of roommates they are looking for – via language, religion, race, and more – to create a safer and more familiar environment for all.

Campus access control offers:

Access limitation Only eligible students can access the premises. The swipe of a unique key card makes it difficult for anyone other those enrolled as residents to enter

Advanced credentials Locked areas can now be accessed via security information or credentials stored safely on a smart phone

Neutralisating old key cards University accommodation keys – unlike regular keys – cannot be copied. Once a student has left, each card can be deactivated. This removes the risk of any unauthorised entry and heightens the safety of the new tenant

When it comes to university accommodation, enhanced security should be a key consideration. This becomes even more pertinent if it can be used in a lockdown process that helps reduce the obvious risks that come with fast-moving incidents, such as firearm attacks.

For more on 2020 Vision, please click here.