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University freshers face a promotional barrage in battle for student pound

By Anne Madden

The scramble for the student pound has never been more intense as freshers arrived at Queen’s University Belfast this week.

Club promoters in wacky fancy dress mingling with bank information stands and Socialist Workers can only mean one thing — freshers’ fortnight.

University Road in front of Queen’s was awash yesterday with an eclectic mix of club promoters eager to capture the ever more elusive student pound.

Representatives of Belfast’s bar and nightclub scene attempted to outdo each other with the most eye-catching costumes and promotional deals to drag in the new wave of students.

Elena McGlennon, from the city’s M-Club, wore an eye-prodding balloon extravaganza on her back.

“There are a lot of club promoters about so we have to stand out from the crowd,” she said.

Promoters handed out fliers, shot glasses, wristbands and even free hugs — all in an attempt to get student feet through the doors.

One nightclub was offering a £2 drinks promotion every Thursday night from 9pm until 3am.

Fresher Mark Travers (19), from Newry, was impressed with the drinks promotions.

“Some of the bars are doing six shots for £6, which is going down well,” said the environmental planning student.

Kerri Nicholson (18), a new law student from Kilkeel, Co Down, found it all a bit overwhelming but was enjoying freshers’ fortnight.

“There’s certainly a lot going on,” she said. “I’ve had a good week so far.”

The student union is also competing with the city’s many bars with its own drinks promotions on ‘Frisky Thursdays’. Next Wednesday the Freshers Ball has attracted special guest David ‘The Hoff’ Hasselhoff.

Sticking to the Baywatch theme, Queen’s surf club members wearing Hawaiian garlands were also promoting a beach party night to raise funds and new recruits. A famous Swedish furniture store was also keen to cash in on students’ needs as the new term begins. A specially adapted van with a bedroom on display drove by with the logo: ‘Bedrooms are where it all begins’. Less flamboyant but equally out in force were the bank representatives keen to open new accounts.

A couple of promoters rolled by in a giant transparent ‘zorb’ ball past the Socialist Workers who were drumming up signatures for a petition against education cuts.

Michael Doogan (22), a final year student, had a more sobering message for freshers: “We’re calling on all freshers to sign our petition against education and public cuts in general.

“As this recession develops fewer people will be able to afford an education.”

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