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University Campus Suffolk is a pretty unique institution. It opened in 2007 and it is spread across six UCS centres and smaller local learning centres in Suffolk, offering people in the community the chance to access higher education opportunities. It doesn’t validate its own degrees; rather degrees are jointly awarded by the University of East Anglia and the University of Essex.
UCS is a new breed of institution and this is reflected in its unique make up of students. Unusually, for a university, 70% of its 5,000 strong student body are mature students (e.g. over 21 years of age). It has five schools: the School of Applied Social Science, the School of Science, Technology and Health; the School of Arts and Humanities; the School of Business, Leadership and Enterprise; and the School of Nursing and Midwifery. These offer a range of courses, from foundation, honours and postgraduate degrees, to Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses. Student numbers are growing year on year and it’s proving to be a viable alternative to traditional universities.
University Campus Suffolk is spread across six campuses. Its main campus is UCS Ipswich. This is the home of the Waterfront building, which has lecture theatres, teaching rooms and a gallery. The new £21m James Hehir building on-campus has special teaching resources for health, social care, bioscience, sport and exercise science courses. In addition, there is the Arts building which caters for some of UCS’s art and design degree courses and the Library Building which houses the UCS Students’ Union and library.
The other campuses are: UCS Bury St Edmunds, located on the site of West Suffolk College; UCS Great Yarmouth; the Lowestoft Centre at Lowestoft College, UCS Otley at (you’ve guessed it) Otley College, and Suffolk New College in Ipswich.
Most students at UCS either live at home or rent private accommodation. UCS Ipswich is currently the only centre that offers on-campus accommodation and students at all of the centres can apply to live there.
Athena Hall is UCS’s first on-campus halls of residence and it houses up to 590 students. Priority is given to first years and new students at UCS. The rooms are split across four to seven bedroom flats and all the rooms are en-suite with a shared kitchen. There are also studio flats available for students aged over 21 or student couples. Room prices range between £89 and £100 a week for standard single rooms, whilst studio flats come in at £122 per week.
UCS’s Accommodation Office runs an Accreditation Scheme to help students find suitable private accommodation.
University Campus Suffolk will be charging £8,000 a year for undergraduate honours degrees and £7,500 a year for foundation degree courses. Postgraduate qualifications range from £500 to £9,900, whereas part-time course fees vary.
For undergraduate degree courses, you may be able to secure a tuition fee loan from the government. This means you won’t have to pay tuition fees whilst you are at university and you’ll only start to repay the loan once you are earning over £21,000. After 30 years, the debt is cancelled. For more information, read our tuition fee rise article.
Living costs will vary student to student, centre to centre. Those living in on-campus accommodation in Ipswich will probably need to budget between £7,000 and £10,000 a year on average.
There is some additional financial support available for undergraduates aside from tuition fee and maintenance loansand grants. UK and EU students on NHS courses are able to apply for NHS Bursaries to cover the cost of tuition fees. UCS is also part of the National Scholarship Scheme. This scheme offers financial support for students with a household income of £25,000 or less. You can find out more about it here.
UCS also runs the Suffolk Access Champion Scheme for eligible students studying at a Suffolk State sixth form. Find out more information here.
Nightlife will obviously vary centre to centre. Those based in and around Ipswich will have the whole of the town’s nightlife at their disposal, so that’s bars, restaurants, clubs and cinemas. Closer to home, the on-campus bar, Kai, sells food and drink at student friendly prices, hosts comedy, live music, pub quizzes, games nights and has its very own club nights.
Those based at Lowestoft aren’t far from the city of Norwich and its student friendly nightlife. Bury St Edmunds has a multiplex cinema and a new development of shops and entertainment, whilst Great Yarmouth has a seaside resort charm with all the associated entertainment, there is a variety of cafes, clubs, pubs and…um… tearooms.
UCS Union has a list of student societies to get involved with. True, the list might not be expansive, but it does cover a variety of interests from art and literature to dance, debating and gaming. If you don’t find any student societies that appeal, you could always start your own.
There are several sports clubs at UCS: ranging from football, netball and basketball to hockey, squash, rock climbing and trampolining.
Freshers’ week is a heady mixture of inductions, campus orientations and welcome talks. The Union puts on a Freshers’ Fair, live music, movie nights, bar crawls, pub quizzes and various parties at Kai bar.
UCS has its own careers and employability service. It is available to all student and graduates within three years of graduating. Staff at the service provide students with careers information and resources, offer impartial advice and guidance and opportunities to develop their employability skills. They also promote employment and internship vacancies.