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Millie’s UK University Spotlight: City vs Campus!

Millie’s UK University Spotlight: City vs Campus!

Article written and edited by Yadavi Madani.

You’ve finally narrowed your university choices, it’s now down to two options: city vs campus. Which should you choose?

City life: What does it mean to live in a city?

The buzz of city life promises an exciting university experience where you’ll never run out of things to do. Whether you’re looking for arts and culture, fantastic cuisine, or some exciting nightlife, city universities have you covered! The main campuses of city universities are more spread out. This means you’ll have to walk around and interact with all sorts of people to get between your lecture halls, study areas and accommodation. Here are some of the pros to choosing a city university:

#1 - So much to choose from!

While campus universities are limited to what can be fitted on campus, city universities are limitless - the world (or city in this case) is literally your oyster! Your university experience will be a whirlwind of meeting all kinds of people (not just other students), trying different kinds of food and getting the most out of what city life has to offer. Whatever your interests are, you’ll never be bored!

“The world (or city in this case) is literally your oyster!”

#2 - More opportunities for finding jobs

Although living in a city does not directly guarantee you a job, it certainly makes it easier! Most people look for their first job in big cities, so living in one for your studies gives you firsthand access to career opportunities. Finding relevant part-time work or summer jobs will be easier given the size of the job pool and the variety of work available. Once you’ve worked for a company and have built up a professional rapport, you’ll have your foot in the door to get a full-time job after your degree. This is not to say that campus university students don’t find jobs easily, or that you’re guaranteed to find one in the city - it depends on your proactiveness and, of course, a bit of luck. But one of the benefits of being in a city is that with more options, you have more chances of finding a job.

#3 - Get a taste of adult life!

While you’ll technically be an adult when you go to university, you only really start living as an adult when you begin working. Many students find their first job in big cities where they truly embrace all the elements of adulthood like earning a proper income, commuting around a big city and truly being independent. If you’re already used to city life, the transition from “university student” to “working adult” will be much easier! You’ll already be used to navigating the public transport system, figuring out the cheapest places to buy essentials and you’ll know the best bars and clubs for a night out. While living in a city can seem daunting at first, it gives you a proper taste of the independence and responsibility of adult life!

“While you’ll technically be an adult when you go to university, you only really start living as an adult when you begin working.”

Ready for the excitement and thrill of city life? Hang on a moment! While city universities definitely have their perks, there are a few cons that have to be mentioned:

#1 - Cities are… well… big

Diving straight into city life can be a bit overwhelming, which is why some students prefer the comfort of a campus to get used to living on their own. But if you’ve lived in cities all your life or you’re ready for a challenge, then a city university might be for you! One thing you’ll have to get your head around is public transport around the city, but apps like CityMapper (a must-have!), TfL Go (London only) and Train Line will help you navigate the city like a pro in no time!

#2 - Prices

Alas, the joys and freedoms of adulthood come with less glamorous parts, like expenses. While every university student will learn to manage their finances, students living in a city need to be especially careful with how they budget due to the increased costs of city living. This can include transport costs, shopping and accommodation. Usually your university will provide accommodation for you, but in certain cases, you may have to find a place on your own.

As in any city, accommodation will usually be your biggest expense (but on the bright side, this is included in your student loan if you’re a UK national)! In the wake of Brexit, EU and international students may not be able to get a UK student loan, so other options could include scholarships to help you out. When looking for universities however, it might be worth checking the university’s policies on fee status and scholarships for international students. You can find more information here. Use helpful websites like, Unite Students and Urbanest to find accommodation options in London.

#3 - Staying safe

“While university will be one of the most exciting times of your life, never forget to stay safe.”

While university will be one of the most exciting times of your life, never forget to stay safe. On a campus, staying safe is much easier, but in a big city like London that is alive and buzzing with people, you need to ensure that your safety is taken care of. For example, ALWAYS use safe and reliable transport options to go between your accommodation and lecture buildings. Taking general precautions to ensure your safety is always advised, like keeping your valuables hidden and being mindful of your surroundings. Whatever it is, it’s always better to be overcautious than underprepared. For more information, read UCL’s top tips to staying safe on public transport here.

While some of the cons to city life sound intimidating, don’t let that put you off! Thousands of students go to city universities every year and have the time of their lives. Just remember to budget well, stay with people you trust and know your safe transport options home! For more information about London universities, read Millie’s London University Spotlight.

Of course, city life is not for everyone, and you may be more drawn to the homely nature of campus universities. So let’s dive into what it’s like to study on a campus:

Campus living: What does it mean to live on a campus?

The comfort of campus universities is great if you’re feeling a bit nervous about living alone for the first time. Like city universities, you get the experience of cooking and cleaning for yourself, but with the benefit of having all your amenities in one place! Campus universities are structured to have all your basic needs nearby and readily accessible. They are great places for university students to make friends and thrive in a welcoming and relaxed environment. Here are some pros of campus living!

#1 - Everything is at your doorstep!

Ok, maybe a bit further than your doorstep, but still pretty close! One of the main perks to living on a campus is that everything you need is nearby. Most campuses will have grocery stores, restaurants and places to hang out with friends (some even have their own nightclubs and bars run by the Student’s Union!). This means that you won’t have to leave campus or travel far to get everything you need, which is super convenient if you’re shuttling between lectures and study periods!

#2 - Community spirit!

As campuses are made for university students, they really develop a sense of community spirit amongst the people living there, becoming a home away from home.

“When you’re surrounded by hundreds of other new undergraduates, you’ll make friends in no time!”

This is what makes campus universities especially great if you’re someone who’s a bit nervous about taking those first steps into independence - everything is tailored to make you feel as comfortable as possible. Whether it’s welcome events designed to help you meet people, movie nights to give you something to look forward to at the end of a busy week, or the friendly librarian who is always there to help you find a book, the campus is built to make your transition into university life as smooth as possible. When you’re surrounded by hundreds of other new undergraduates, you’ll make friends in no time!

#3 - Value for money!

One of the massive benefits of campus universities compared to city universities is the lowered living costs. Most campus accommodation is cheaper than city housing and can be better quality too! Not only that, you’ll be saving on transport costs since most places will be within walking or cycling distance. Bonus: most grocery stores and restaurants on campus will be better priced compared to what you’d find in a big city.

Campus life is a popular choice for incoming students every year across all universities, with countless pros. However, like all things, there are some cons to campus living as well:

#1 - Campuses can’t fit everything

While most campuses have a variety of facilities and options for entertaining yourself in your free time, it can’t be ignored that you will find more options in the cities near your campus than on the campus itself. To get there, you will need to find public transport options. Most universities have regular shuttle buses to the city and usually run every 15-30 minutes. So while the majority of your university life will be spent on campus, keep in mind that you may need to travel out every once in a while!

#2 - Moving out in your second and third years

While you will likely be guaranteed accommodation on campus in your first year, you may be asked to find your own place off campus thereafter. On the one hand this can be a hassle in terms of finding a place and commuting into campus everyday, but on the other hand this gives you a flavour of adult life outside of the university bubble. Living off campus will give you the independence that you’ll want in your second and third years of university, where you can get a place with your mates away from the rules and regulations of a campus while still having access to its facilities. Most students end up living with the friends they make in their first year, so make the most of the welcome events during freshers week and meet as many people as you can!

#3 - Acclimatising to working life afterwards

“Your university’s career counsellors will help you acclimatise to city working life, ensuring you settle in and get the most out of the experience.”

Despite having lived off campus for a couple of years during your degree, this may still be a university town filled with students. Moving to a big city to start work after your degree can be a big change. While those who went to city universities will be more than used to navigating public transport options and have a general sense of the city, you’ll have to pick it up quickly alongside your job. But you won’t be alone in this! Your university’s career counsellors will help you acclimatise to city working life, ensuring you settle in and get the most out of the experience.

So now you know a bit about the pros and cons of city and campus universities. Still undecided? To help you take the plunge, here’s a spotlight on a couple of city and campus universities in the UK:

City University Spotlights

Queen Mary, University of London

Queen Mary is a city university that has five main campuses across East and Central London. The university dates back to the foundation of London Hospital Medical College in 1785. It ranks 41st in the UK (Complete University Guide) and 117th in the world (Top Universities), with approximately 28,000 students representing over 160 nationalities. Here are its top three majors:

Electrical and Electronic Engineering - Ranked #28

  • IB: 32 points with 655 at Higher Level including Math and a relevant science
  • A-Levels: AAB including Maths
  • AP: 5,5,4 with a minimum high school GPA of 3.3

Economics - Ranked #23

  • IB: 36 points with 666 at Higher Level including Math
  • A-Levels: AAA including Maths
  • AP: 5,5,5, or 5,5,4,4 with a minimum high school GPA of 3.3

Medical genetics - Ranked #8

  • IB: 34 points with 655 at Higher Level including Biology
  • A-Levels: ABB including Biology
  • AP: 5,4,4 with a minimum high school GPA of 3.3

Did you know that one of the medical institutions that founded Queen Mary was England’s first ever medical school? Find out more about Queen Mary here. Next, let’s take a look at the University of Bristol:

University of Bristol

The University of Bristol is a different kind of city university, located in the picturesque maritime city of Bristol in the South West of England. While the university is spread all over the city, Bristol has a town-like feel that gives students the best of both worlds, combining city life with a large-campus feel. Bristol ranks 17th in the UK (Complete University Guide) and 62nd in the world (Top Universities). It has over 22,200 students, of whom 11.7% are international. Here are Bristol’s top ranked majors:

Environmental Geosciences - Ranked #8

  • IB: 34 points overall with 17 at Higher Level including a Higher Level Core Science and Math
  • A-Levels: AAB including a Core Science and Maths
  • AP: 4, 5 including a 5 in Calculus BC with a minimum high school GPA of 3.2

Psychology - Ranked #12

  • IB: 38 points overall with 18 at Higher Level including a science-related subject
  • A-Levels: A*AA with an A in a science-related subject
  • AP: 5, 5 with a minimum high school GPA of 3.4

Cellular and Molecular Medicine - Ranked #14

  • IB: 34 points overall with 17 at Higher Level including Chemistry and another Core Science/Math
  • A-Levels: AAB including Chemistry and another Core Science/Mathematics
  • AP: AP: 4, 5 including a 5 in Calculus BC with a minimum high school GPA of 3.2

Did you know that the drink Ribena was invented at the University of Bristol in 1936? Found out more about Bristol here. And now, onto the campus universities. First up, Warwick:

Campus University Spotlights

University of Warwick

The University of Warwick is situated in Coventry in Central England. The recently established university was founded in 1965 and sports a modern campus with state-of-the-art facilities. Warwick ranks 10th in the UK (Complete University Guide) and 61st in the world (Top Universities), withover 23,500 students, of whom 17.2% are international. The Warwick campus is spread over 720 acres of green space and is predominately split into three faculties: Arts; Science, Engineering and Medicine; and Social Sciences. Students have access to a wide range of facilities directly on campus including a large Tesco, multiple restaurants, bars, cafés and a massive sports centre and gym. Here’s a bit of information on Warwick’s top ranked majors:

Mathematics and Statistics - Ranked #6

  • IB: 37 points including a 7 in Higher Level Math
  • A-Levels: A*AA including an A* in Maths and an A in Further Maths
  • AP: 5, 5, 5 including Calculus BC

International Business With a Foreign Language - Ranked #8

  • IB: 38 points including a 5 at chosen language (French/Italian/Spanish/German)
  • A-Levels: AAA including one of the above languages
  • AP: 5, 5, 5 including one of the above languages

English Literature - Ranked #14

  • IB: 38 points including a 6 at Higher Level English Lit/Lang and Lit
  • A-Levels: AAA including English Lit or Lang and Lit
  • AP: 5, 5, 5 including English

Did you know, researchers at the University of Warwick actually built a Formula 3 racing car powered by chocolate and steered by carrots? Find out more about the University of Warwick here. Last but not least in this quick university spotlight, the University of York:

University of York

The University of York is situated in the North-East of England and was established in 1963. York is a campus university that follows a collegiate system, meaning that the university is split up into multiple colleges that relate to the university in a federal system. York has nine beautiful colleges that make up the primary accommodation for undergraduate and postgraduate students. Each college has its own facilities to help students feel at home - your own collegiate family! York ranks 18th in the UK (Complete University Guide) and 151st in the world (Top Universities), and houses over 18,000 students, 5,000 of whom are international. Here are some of its top ranked majors:

Social Policy - Ranked #18

  • IB: 31 points overall
  • A-Levels: BBB
  • AP: Three AP subjects with score ranging between 4 and 5

Archaeology - Ranked #11

  • IB: 34 points overall
  • A-Levels: ABB
  • AP: Three AP subjects with score ranging between 4 and 5

History - Ranked #11

  • IB: 36 points including a 6 in Higher Level History
  • A-Levels: AAA or A*AB including an A in History or Classical Civilisation
  • AP: Three AP subjects with score ranging between 4 and 5

Did you know it is thought that there are 14 ducks for every quarter acre of land at the University of York? Find out more about the University of York here.

So which is better, city or campus?

Truthfully, there isn’t a definitive answer to that question. Remember, there are pros and cons to both options, so it comes down to which setting you can imagine yourself in for the next three or four years. If you’d prefer the convenience of having everything in one place, maybe a campus university is the choice for you! Or if you want lots of options of nightlife and things to do with your friends, perhaps you’re meant for a city university.

But don’t worry too much about it; if you love the course at a particular university, it’s city or campus setting won’t deter from your university experience. Whichever option you choose, your university experience will be epic! And remember, sign yourself up for a free consultation to plan your next steps at university!