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Ah Essex, the home of fake boobs, hair extensions, fake tan and flash cars. But don’t let The Only Way is Essex fool you, there’s lot more to Essex than that. Think less blonde bimbos, more university-educated bright young things.
That’s right; Essex is home to a university, and not just any old institution: the University of Essex. Founded in 1964, the university regularly scores highly in student satisfaction surveys and research assessments, marking it out as a quality place for higher education.
From 122 students in 1964, the student body has grown to around 12,000. The university performs relatively well in university league tables and even better in research assessments. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, it was ranked 9th best research university in the UK.
Located in the heart of Essex, in recent times the university has pumped £200 million into its three campuses, Wivenhoe Park at Colchester, Southend and East 15 Acting School at Loughton. The University of Essex is structured around four faculties: the Faculty of Humanities and Comparative Studies; Faculty of Law and Management; Faculty of Science and Engineering; and the Faculty of Social Sciences.
The University of Essex has a star studded list of alumni. It’s East 15 Acting School has produced the likes of Gavin and Stacey’s Alison Steadman, The Inbetweeners’ Blake Harrison and film directors David Yates, Stephen Daldry and Mike Leigh. Past alumni also include: BAFTA award winning documentary maker Nick Broomfield; John Bercow, speaker of the House of Commons; Jack Denton (co-founder of All About Careers); world renowned architect Daniel Libeskind and two Nobel Prize winners, Oscar Arias and Professor Christopher Pissarides.
The University of Essex is truly a campus university. Its main campus, Wivenhoe Park, is nestled in green parkland, just two miles from the historic town of Colchester. It’s home to around 6,000 undergraduates and is only one hour away from London.
The campus a mini town in itself, with plenty of student accommodation, teaching buildings, shops, banks, gallery, bars, cafes, sports facilities and a theatre. Its main library houses a pretty unique sight: a working and slightly dangerous paternoster lift. Think students in open rotating boxes. Watch this YouTube video if you don’t believe us…
Colchester is a charming, historic city. Its claim to fame? Colchester is the oldest recorded city in Britain. A little bit of culture can be sampled at the horseshoe-shaped gallery, Firstsite; a little bit of history at the Norman Castle; and a whole lot of shopping and drinking in its shops, cafes, bars and clubs.
The University of Essex’s second campus, opened in 2007, is located in Southend-on-Sea. Yes that’s right; you can get a taste of the great British seaside whilst studying. It is home to the Gateway Building, Clifftown Theatre and Studios, University Square, Essex Business School and the School of Health and Human Sciences.
The compact and intimate Loughton campus is home to the East 15 Acting School. It has rehearsal spaces, radio studio, dance studio, screening room and a theatre. With fast links to central London, the heady world of London’s Theatreland in a hop, skip and a… tube ride away.
First-year students are well-catered for at the University of Essex. The majority of first-years studying at Colchester are guaranteed university accommodation in one of the main halls of residence: The Towers, Wolfson Court, The Houses, South Courts or University Quays.
The distinctive Towers can be grouped into North and South Towers. There are five towers overall and they are all within a two to three minutes’ walk from the campus centre. Rents range between £65 and £75 per week.
If you’re after quieter accommodation then Wolfson Court might be just the ticket. It’s a smaller hall of residence near the centre of the campus. All the room are ensuite (that means no sharing bathrooms with anyone else) and room rental prices are around £73 per week.
The Houses offer similarly less obtrusive accommodation. It is comprised of six, three storey houses, each accommodating 42 to 46 students. Room prices are slightly more expensive at £102 per week.
South Courts is located (unsurprisingly) in the south part of the campus. Rooms are of a good quality and all of them are en-suite too. This is reflected in the more expensive rent of £112 a week.
If you’re looking for modern accommodation, then the newest hall of residence, University Quays, might be the place for you. It isn’t as close to the centre of the campus as the other residences (it’s about 15 minute walk away) and room prices hover around the £100 mark.
Student accommodation in Southend takes the form of 561 rooms in University Square. A single study en-suite bedroom will set you back £115 a week, whilst rent for a studio flat will be around £140 a week.
For 2012, the University of Essex will be charging new UK and EU undergraduates £9,000 a year in tuition fees. Course prices vary for overseas students: it could be anything from £9,000 to £12,950 a year.
The University of Essex estimates that undergraduates living on campus will need between £6,445 and £8,420 a year for living expenses. As the University of Essex is pretty self-contained, there are plenty of student deals to be had on campus. Everything (apart from Colchester) is within walking distance so there’s a few pennies saved on transport too.
Off campus, private accommodation will be anything from £55 per week onwards. Students in the Loughton area should expect to pay a lot more for accommodation.
The University of Essex offers Bursary Scheme awards of £1,500 a year to students on bachelor degree courses with a household income of 25,000 or less.
In 2012, it will also be providing 200 accommodation subsidies of £3,000 through the National Scholarship Programme. Those eligible for the subsidies will be students with household incomes of up to £10,000 a year. There are Maths scholarships, Sports Bursaries and various Hardship Funds available - more information about which can be found here.
The Essex University Students’ Union doesn’t scrimp on providing entertainment. In fact, it puts on events pretty much every day of the week. There’s packed club nights at its venue SubZero, events at various bars such as the SU bar and Level 2, as well as screening live sport. New additions Fusion and Top Bar are the place to go for more laidback drinks and there is also the Mondo restaurant and several balls throughout the year.
Students venturing off-campus can head for the hedonistic delights of Colchester (ok, maybe a slight exaggeration there). Clubs such as Liquid and Envy, Route and The Sky Rooms are always popular with the students. Twisters’ is the place to go if you like indie and alternative music and V-Bar also puts on a good live music (albeit very local) offering. Colchester’s only gay venue can be found at Vallies Lounge and there are plenty of pubs and bars dotted around the city.
The University of Essex has a strong collection of sports club and societies. You can get involved with everything from American Football to Brazilian Jiu jitsu.
The university caters well for traditional outdoor sports too, like football and rugby, with various outdoor pitches and courts. The jewel in the crown of the Sports Centre is the Evolve gym with its 130 stations and there are also fitness studios, a sports hall and climbing walls. Brand new to 2011 is the Watersports Centre which offers students the chance to try their hand at yachting, kayaking, rowing, and windsurfing.
Freshers’ Week kicks off like most university welcome weeks with inductions at departments and welcome talks. There’s the ubiquitous Freshers’ Fair and Welcome Parties, and the SU plays host to plenty of guest DJs, club nights and various other social events.
The Careers Service is run by professionally trained advisors on hand to help you find work after your study, work experience placements or explore further study opportunities. They have a vacancy database, hold career events and provide careers information and resources.