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A controversial suggestion

Cambridge students forced to volunteer

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"Privileged" students Cambridge University should be forced to volunteer in deprived neighbourhoods to lessen the divide between the university and locals, a councillor has urged.

Cllr George Owers, who is himself a PhD student, said going beyond The Grafton centre was like entering the “wilds of Borneo” for many undergraduates, and suggested forcing undergraduates to work with community projects was the only way to get them out of their “privileged silos”.

"I would like to see more efforts being made to engage the many members of the student body who show such little interest in the town they live in and live in a privileged silo for a few years without going beyond the three wards of the city they live in," Owers said in a city council meeting. "It might not be a bad idea to introduce some kind of university-wide city service where people have to do compulsory community service, which would force them to look beyond the college they are in."

Cllr Owers’ suggestion was criticised by Liberal Democrat Cllr Mike Pitt, who said it was much better to “facilitate” rather than “command and control”, and the Labour motion was amended by the ruling Liberal Democrats to remove references to a town and gown divide.

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