Over the past month, I have visited three universities as a prospective student for September 2019! I visited the University of Sussex, located in Falmer, Brighton, St Mary’s University Twickenham, located in Strawberry Hill/Twickenham, near Richmond London and University of East London, in Stratford, East London (in the same postcode Eastenders is meant to be based, not where Shakespeare was born (Stratford-Upon-Avon)). I’d thought I’d share with you my experiences of the open days and what I thought of the universities!
I should let you know that I already knew what university I wanted to apply for prior to these open days, but I still went to the others so that I could say I made the right choice!
University Open Days
University Of Sussex
Situated only 9 minutes by train to Brighton City and only 30 minutes away from home, I couldn’t not consider this university! It’s known for being one of the top 20 universities in the UK and claims to have ‘the most beautiful campus in the UK’, being conveniently located on the South Downs. I visited the University of Sussex with interest in their Biomedical Science, Medical Neuroscience, Psychology and foundation year courses.
On the day, my mum and I travelled by train to get an idea of the commute. We had to change twice, once at Three Bridges and once at Brighton, but these were easy and no connections were missed. Falmer is only 3 stops (London Road Brighton, Moulsecoomb, Falmer) from Brighton, each stop being roughly two to three minutes apart. I found that it would be super easy to get right into the town! At Falmer station, all there’s to do is come out the front of the station and walk under the short underpass (under the dual carriageway) and you’re there! It took roughly 1.5 hours to get there on the train from home, and as I mentioned before, it’s even quicker to drive!
It’s instantly obvious that the campus is prettttttty big which I personally think is great because it means everything is there! There’s the classrooms, lecture theatres, accommodation, library, a Co-Op, various coffee places, bars and more. I was told that some students don’t need to leave campus for weeks!
The first thing I did on the open day was look at some of the accommodation. I think that there is soooo much choice at Sussex. I was interested in the en-suite accommodation, mainly because of some of the medical issues that I have. They’re currently in the process of replacing some of their oldest accommodation with brand new flats too! The accommodation was really nice and well kept!
I went to a Biomedical Science talk and it gave me a comprehensive breakdown of the modules and structure of the course, which increased my interest much more. I also spoke to several of the teachers from other subjects too, and although I received some conflicting information (surrounding the fact I haven’t got the standard three A Levels), it certainly didn’t put me off.
Overall, I was able to get a great feel of the place, and it felt really good! I was able to try out one of the coffee shops and I got lunch from the Co-Op, among doing everything else!
St Mary’s University, Twickenham
Travelling in and around London is super easy, providing the trains are running the way they’re supposed to (ahem Thameslink). Thankfully, they were the day I travelled to St Mary’s University! St Mary’s University ‘specialises’ in Primary Education, but I went with interest in their Sports Rehabilitation and Psychology courses.
As I already said, the trains ran super smoothly the day I travelled to St Mary’s! Again, it took roughly 1.5 hours but I only had to change once, at Clapham Junction to get to Strawberry Hill – the nearest train station. The great thing about London is Oyster Cards! They make travelling (between London zones 1-6, of course) really easy, you need’t worry about buying train or bus tickets any more, just make sure you’ve got your card topped up (there’s now an app you can check your balance)! That’s an advantage I believe London Universities have over those outside!
Once we arrived at Strawberry Hill, there was a short 5-10 minute walk to the university itself. The first thing that I noticed was that the campus itself is a lot smaller than Sussex, which is good if you felt that somewhere like Sussex was too big! There’s still a lot there though, the accommodation is on campus, the classrooms and lecture theatres, the canteen and coffee shop!
When I arrived, I went to the main sports hall where there were the stalls for all the subjects with leaflet. My mum and I grabbed a free drink and popcorn which they were offering! We then went on an accommodation tour. It was completely different from Sussex in that most of the accommodation was shared bathroom and it was also catered. This means that each day you got about 10 ‘points’ and everything in the canteen costs a certain amount of ‘points’ and you could use them throughout the day. If you ran out of point then you have to pay with money. I think this is quite a good system because it means that everyone can afford at least two meals a day! Although they were shared bathroom accommodation, I still thought it was nice and I could see myself living there.
Overall, I thought that this was a great little university and it has some fantastic facilities! Obviously, being in a London borough, it’s a bit more expensive, but you also get a slightly higher maintenance loan if you live in London!
University Of East London
The University of East London, or UEL, is split across two campuses situated in Stratford (and just outside!) in East London. The two campuses, in Stratford and Docklands are about 30 minutes apart on the bus (there’s a free shuttle bus that runs between the two) and the underground train! I went to the open day with interest in their Psychology, Physiotherapy and Bioscience courses.
I travelled to UEL by train and found it fairly easy. I went to the Docklands campus first as it furthest away, and the accommodation was located there. I changed at London Bridge to the Jubilee Line and then changed at Canning Town to the Docklands Light Railway (DLR). It took slightly longer to get here than the other universities from home, but that didn’t put me off. As soon as you come out of Cyprus DLR station the university is immediately obvious! Despite being in the city, it’s a really nice location. I saw people rowing on the River Thames, and you’re super close to London City Airport which is great for when you want to go on a short break!
After registering, I immediately went on accommodation tour (good timing that!) to see a older, smaller room and a newer, slightly larger room. All the rooms were en-suite and I feel that there were in a good location! The tour didn’t last very long as there were quite close to each other and so my mum and I jumped on the free bus that runs between the two campuses as the subjects I wanted to look at were based at the Stratford campus. I feel that the only disadvantage of this university is that I’d be living on a separate campus, but on the other hand the commute was no different than that I do to college every day currently! As well as the free bus, there is also the train and Stratford tube station is only 10 minutes away from the campus (and right next to Westfield Shopping Centre!)
At the Stratford campus, I went into the main hall to pick up a couple of leaflets about the subjects I was looking at and I got a free donut! My mum and I went for a little walk around the campus too!
Overall, I thought that this university was really nice too, even though the accommodation was in a different place to where I’d actually be learning! I thought that the facilities were good as well!
I hope you enjoyed my post about the university open days and it gives you an insight into them! I’m going to do a separate post soon about what I’m applying for and about the application process itself!
Thanks for reading – which one do you like the sound of?