Here is a quick run down of a few places I have visited on the Loveyouruni Road Trip this year. I've picked up some random bits of information they won't tell you in the prospectuses. Hope it's useful, or amusing.
Bath may be 20 minutes from another awesome student city, Bristol, but you won’t catch any mingling between the two. Bath is too pretty for the grass to look greener anywhere else.
Belfast is arty and excellent. There is unity, creativity and celebration of diversity which makes it a brilliant place to be a student. Ignore the bad press about N.I and shout about the good.
Birmingham is a huge city and a ridiculous place to drive. Even in the middle of the night you will be in a traffic jam. Great night life.
Bournemouth has lots of creative and quirky degrees and even quirkier fashion ventures are embraced. The beach helps everybody not get too intense and it’s small enough that you can really get to know the locals.
Brighton is crazy expensive to live in, we’re talking London prices, people! Everyone is alternative and individual… which I know is a contradiction in terms but…you get me. Go organic and ethical or go home.
Bristol is covered in both graffiti, and classy old uni buildings. It’s Banksy accessorised with boat shoes, public school backgrounds and a love for Boston Tea Party cafes. What a combo.
Carlisle isn’t near anywhere unless you happen to be sat on the M6 all the way to Scotland. Or take a de-tour for a coffee at the Llama cafe. No joke. It’s a small enough campus that you can make change happen quickly. Lots of potential.
Cheltenham is small enough to know people but if you’re feeling adventurous you could broaden your horizons by venturing down the road to the Gloucester part of the uni. Go on, be brave.
Chichester has a sailing / nautical vibe to it, so if you are a fan of boats and the sea you will find plenty to keep you busy. It’s more creative, maybe a bit like Bournemouth, and the place and uni is small enough to find community and not get too lost.
Coleraine draws students way up to the North of Northern Ireland to study, in outstanding natural beauty along the Causeway Coast. Both here and Belfast are victim to “wheelie case weekends” where students habitually go home every weekend.
Derby is fun. Sneak upstairs to the art and design department, their walls are covered in pictures and sketches, it’s awesome. The SU coffee shop has been rebranded and is a decent place to chill but nights out in the SU space still haven’t taken off.
Dublin is a weird one because you have to study in the middle of a tourist attraction. Walking through the historical gates into Trinity will feel epic… until you reach the library and canteen and realise no matter how stunning and historical a university may start, someone will always ruin it with ugly concrete architecture.
Durham is one of the only uni locations where Hollister bags are used like bin-liners in a student’s bedroom. The city is tiny yet with massively impressive history and a cracking cathedral (which rivals York Minster but in my opinion, York’s is prettier.)
Exeter is really far south! It isn’t dissimilar to the likes of Durham, York and Bathin history and feel. It also has a crazy big drama studio.
Gloucester has a small uni campus that feels a bit like a new-build secondary school academy. You can be super lazy and live in the big accommodation block directly opposite the campus so that your walk to class is simply a stroll over the car park if you like.
Greater London is an area with a few universities in and we went to Bucks. It’s a new campus, still developing but has a brilliant diversity in its students. I met students from all over the world and from different backgrounds so visiting your housemates in the holidays could be seriously fun.
Guildford has more going on uni-wise than you first realise. There’s the big Uni of Surrey, but then you also have Guildford School of Acting (which is up there in reputation) and also a huge university-sized higher education college. It seems down to the Christian students to be the ones to cross invisible borders and make friends between institutions.
Hull has an impressive main campus building that is surprisingly picturesque for a place which isn’t know for its beauty and charm. Freshers have been housed way out of town, a decent bus ride away from said campus so expect to spend on taxis and buses on a night out to get yourself back to halls.
Leicester isn't far from Loughborough or Derby but it’s kind of like cheating to go hanging around other university locations unless it’s for competitive purposes. Like the game of Quidditch that I witnessed between Loughborough and Leicester in a muddy field opposite campus. That’s acceptable.
Liverpool is big, it houses three very different university establishments and a very fancy modern-looking Catholic cathedral that is slap bang in the middle of uni buildings. After inviting a student to shelter from the rain in the camper van, she ended up coming to one of the local churches!
London can’t be boxed-in or bottled into a sentence. It’s like no other uni city and is a different ball-game altogether for students. Your campus won’t be near where you live, so community has to be found in a third space but at least you have world-class places to choose from when looking for a hang-out.
Loughborough People always think of sporting prowess when they think of Loughborough but it’s also a very entrepreneurial place and an easy commute into Kings Cross too. Oh and it is home to a big factory called ‘BRUSH’ which you can’t miss if you go to the station.
Northampton I only stopped off briefly here for a couple of coffees, randomly accompanied by a student hitch-hiker. There are thousands of students and loads of great churches looking to welcome them.
Portsmouth Turns out this city’s maritime history has a big effect on the drinking culture and nightlife of the city. There’s a specific quarter where crime and alcohol-related incidents are at a national high. Students and locals are both living and socialising right in this same area so you need to keep your wits about you when going out.
Reading has halls of residence that hold strong community ties for those who live in them. The halls are within walking distance of uni buildings and the SU club nights are popular which shouldn't be taken for granted, not every uni has a decent night out on your doorstep.
York is my home city. We have two unis and more ancient history than you can shake a viking at. Every uni has one club that is famed as “the worst in Europe” and although we can’t call The Willow a club as such, the Chinese restaurant that turns into a prawn-crackered dance-floor is something else.