Students across the UK are having a tough time of it at the moment. With no support from universities, the blame of the pandemic being placed on us, and mental health struggles becoming more frequent with ongoing restrictions, it’s no surprise we’re a little unhappy.
As the Government desperately tries to get a grip on rising cases of COVID, us students are sat in our webinars and breakout rooms perplexed at what we’re paying nine grand for.
As Manchester students embark on their fourth week of term, it’s fair to say the transition to online teaching has been a little strained. For many, the six-month break from any and all structure, spent baking banana bread, selling our souls to TikTok, and downloading Duolingo in vain, has left us ill-prepared to jump back into term time with the momentum required to excel at university work.
As everyone struggles to grapple with online classes and virtual societies, Pret a Manger has swooped in in our time of need. It has launched the ‘YourPretBarista’ subscription service, which includes free hot drinks for a month and a reason for students to leave the house. The subscription may as well be a knight in caffeinated armour, ready to provide us with something positive in these apocalyptic times.
Now that university is back and buffering (because let’s be honest, the Wi-Fi in student houses is not really ideal), Pret has delivered the one thing that could actually help us through this crisis: coffee.
And it’s free, like some kind of karmic reward for the lack of help we’ve received. It couldn’t have arrived at a better time.
So, how does it work? ‘YourPretBarista’ promises subscribers up to five hot drinks a day for £20 a month, provided they are claimed at half an hour intervals. More importantly, the first month is free!
For many students, this free trial will provide a welcome and needed opportunity to leave the house and get out. Finally something to look forward to when all our days are droning on like a scene out of Groundhog Day. With numerous Prets located along Oxford Road and Piccadilly, it could be the closest a lot of us get to going into university this semester.
This also provides an opportunity to let the student finance breathe. The initiative hopes to encourage you to buy at least a snack while you’re there. But, if you so wish you can go and sit in Pret and do your work essentially for free. With limited library space availability and an extortionate amount of time staring at the same four walls at the moment, Pret is providing us with an alternative source of escape to the Fallowfield Sainsbury’s, and we’re here for it.
So, what’s the catch?
Whilst initially up to five free coffees a day sounds great, that is still five coffees. Despite the British mentality claiming otherwise, is free always good?
The ‘YourPretBarista’ scheme states in its Terms and Conditions that during the trial period, to claim up to five hot drinks, you will be required to claim them at half an hour intervals. This is to avoid potential members sharing out free drinks with friends and family. The maximum amount of coffee that could be consumed within the trial period is up to 150 coffees.
I spoke to a student, who wished to remain anonymous, who recently signed up for the subscription about their thoughts. They said: “I definitely drink a lot more coffee now, but I’ve never reached the maximum.”
They explained the advantage of the scheme: “It allows me to have as many coffees as I would normally want without the worry of wasting money. I get to try out new drinks, such as Matcha Lattes that I would never spend money on.”
They praised Pret for the wonders the scheme has done for their mental health. They stated: “It’s just a good way to get out of the house when the coronavirus has made university quite isolating.”
While Manchester’s lockdown rules have banned the mixing of different households indoors, this initiative provides the option to go for study dates with members of your household, which will be welcomed by many.
This initiative is probably the best thing to happen to students right now. Finding some normality is more important than ever. So, what are you waiting for? Go and treat yourself to a trip out of the house, a fancy Matcha, and, most importantly, a break from your bedroom.