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Study in the UK: City Uni or Campus Uni?

Study in the UK: Country Uni or Campus Uni? main image

By Jenna Lawson

Choosing which university to attend isn’t just about your grades or the academic merit of the university, you of course also have to be able to live in your chosen area.

There are two different types of university; campus based, like University of Canterbury, Keele University, University of York or The University of Warwick, where all students and facilities are based on one site, often situated in a country like setting.

Then, we have city-based campuses, like UCL or University of Leeds, where campuses, facilities and students are spread out across the city.

Which one you choose may completely change your university experience, so which is the right one for you? I’ve experienced two of each, Imperial College London’s Central London campus and University of Edinburgh and Imperial College’s campus based Silwood Park and Keele University in Staffordshire.

At campus-based universities there is a community feel, it’s easier to make friends, and you will likely know many people on campus by sharing the same classes and halls.

If you’re at a smaller campus, it feels like one big family, but you’ll still get a homey feel on a larger campus, you’ll just know more people.

Having said that, we’ve all heard the saying ‘small town, big fire’, and things can become a little insular and claustrophobic at times. Your nights out are usually based around the student union, with occasional visits to a city nearby when boredom sets in. If it’s a good union, with lots of activities, like the one at Keele, this usually satisfies most people, and some go months without venturing into the city. After the first few months it’s easy to become a little bored with campus life, however, this can be fixed with a trip to the city or a weekend home.

Everything you need might not be on your doorstep like in many city-based universities, which can be frustrating at times, but with online shopping, and planning trips into town, you can get everything you need.

Many campus universities have grocery stores and restaurants on campus, as well as laundry and sports facilities, providing you with day to day necessities.

Your lectures and library facilities will be a short walk away, which is a big plus for most students, no stressful tube or bus ride for classes, just a relaxing walk. Campus based universities are often cheaper: the accommodation, sports facilities, drinks and food at the union or onsite restaurants, which is a big plus when surviving on a student loan. There is usually onsite security, so you and your belongings will at least feel a little more secure. For me, the best part about a campus-based university is the nature. At both campuses I lived in complete tranquility. I had the buzz of the halls and union if I wanted it, but if I wanted to get away from it all there were miles of forest trails to walk and relax in to get away from daily stresses and noise.

As much as I enjoyed campus-based life, I have also enjoyed living in the center of London and Edinburgh. There are events on all the time only a bus or tube ride away, 1000’s of bars and restaurants to choose from, cinemas, museums and concerts, you’ll never be bored! If you need something at short notice, no pre-planning needed, just step outside and there will be a shop to satisfy your needs. However, with this comes a price, and life is certainly more expensive in the city, so you may find you can’t afford all the amazing things around you. At city-based universities it can be a long, stressful journey to lectures, and you can lose valuable time you could spend studying.

On the other hand, travel time going to the shops and events is usually reduced, and it’s likely the journey to your hometown will also be a little easier. And with all the stresses that city life can bring, most cities now have plenty of green spaces to relax in if you need to get away from it all.

So which one is right for you? I found I was able to adapt to both, mainly because I like both the country and the city life, and both have pros and cons that you learn to love and manage. Having said that I do prefer campus based life due to the reduced stress, short travel time day to day and the community feel. But if you are looking for a city buzz and want to have all the action right on your doorstep, then maybe opt for a city-based university. Whichever one you choose, embrace it, learn to live with the hassles and enjoy all it has to offer.

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