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Diversity is the name of the game at Kingston University. Officially the most ethnically diverse university in the country, it offers an impressive range of academic and business courses to its 25,000 strong student community, with facilities and teaching spread across four campuses. Kingston may have Victorian origins, having started life in 1899 as Kingston Technical Institute, but it’s the very model of a modern university, offering e-learning across all of its degrees.
And its alumni go on to make waves in a pretty diverse range of fields. Former students include: sportsmen Lawrence Dallaglio and Graeme Le Saux; music legend Eric Clapton; the celebrated novelist Nick Hornby; artist Fiona Banner; and business leaders such as Tony Ball, former CEO of UK broadcasting giant BSkyB.
Kingston is a large and old market town in Surrey, around 10 miles from the centre of London. An ancient Anglo-Saxon settlement, during the war the town become a centre for aeroplane manufacturing, but these days is known more widely for its shopping and its university, which continues to grow at a rapid rate, with a campus in nearby Roehampton.
The university is in the middle of an ambitious £123m investment plan, ending in 2018. The university's four campuses are undergoing extensive refurbishment and expansion, with three new buildings up-and-running, including the impressive new £20m teaching and learning centre.
The main Penrhyn campus is the hub of student activity in Kingston. Students across the university converge on this campus, which houses the Students' Union headquarters, the gym and the health centre. Kingston Hill, three miles out of town is a modern development, home to the faculties of Business, Law, Education, Music, and Health and Social Care Sciences; while Roehampton Vale and Knights Park are dedicated to engineering and art respectively.
Halls of residence at Kingston University comprise single rooms in shared flats with communal kitchens and an on-site launderette. 70% of the rooms also have en-suite bathrooms. Rooms are split across each of the campuses, for ease of access for students, and are divided into price bands so students can choose rooms according to their budgets. Prices vary between £3,800 and £4,800 for a year’s accommodation.
Unfortunately, Kingston University can’t guarantee university housing to every first-year undergraduate student. For the unlucky few who don’t get university student digs, the accommodation service provides a database of local private lettings. They also run a student-to-student noticeboard where students can link up with other students looking for private accommodation.
Kingston University will be charging fees of £8,500 to £9,000 for most undergraduate courses starting in September 2012. You might balk at the expense but remember you can get a loan from the government to cover the cost of your tuition fees.
You won’t start paying back this loan until you start earning £21,000 or more and repayments will be automatically deducted from your pay. If you don’t pay it back after 30 years, the debt is cancelled. So as loans go, this one is pretty easy going. If you’re still confused about tuition fees and repayments, you can read our guide here.
Like its near neighbour London, Kingston is expensive. The south east is certainly the most expensive place for you to go to university in the country; accommodation is more expensive, drinks are more expensive, food is more expensive and public transport is, yes, you guessed it, pretty darn expensive!
Don’t let that put you off though! For many people, living and studying in London and the south east is an unrivalled experience. If you manage your money effectively, you can find ways to live on a student budget.
Kingston University will be offering additional financial support for students from lower income households through the Kingston Scholarship Scheme and the National Scholarship Programme.
It will be offering a staggering 528 scholarships worth £3,000 each to students residing in England with a household income of £25,000 or less. They have to be the first generation of their family to attend university and studying a £9,000 a year course. The scholarships are also open to mature students aged 21 or over or those studying a Science, Engineering or Computing Foundation Year who have similar financial circumstances.
There is an additional Kingston Scholarship Scheme for those who are not eligible for the National Scholarship Programme. This consists of a £1,000 scholarship to UK students with a residual income of £25,000 or less. They must be the first generation of their family to attend university and studying a Foundation Degree or an undergraduate degree.
Kingston has the added advantage of both having its own vibrant club and bar scene and being a short train ride away from central London. London has a fantastically varied and exciting nightlife to meet all tastes; from East London’s hipster bars and West London’s gastropubs, to South London’s hidden gems and Central London’s super-clubs. However, if you want to find some action closer to campus, there is plenty on offer to keep you occupied.
Kingston has a vibrant music scene, with several excellent rock and alternative venues, and those in search of a premium clubbing experience need look no further than decadent superclub Oceana. There are also the usual selection of chain establishments as well as some characterful pubs and cocktail bars. The Kingston University Students’ Union (KUSU) bar is located at the main Penrhyn campus and it puts on regular club nights and gigs for students.
KUSU has many great clubs and societies. On the sporting front, there are traditional favourites, such as football, rugby, hockey and netball. There are also other sporting activities facilitated by the university such as climbing and other adrenaline-fuelled extreme sports.
Kingston University has a state-of-the-art Fitness Centre, outdoor sports pitches at Tolworth Court and its own boat club.
For the less sports obsessed, there's also a wide range of societies, including student enterprise and human rights societies plus loads of subject-based groups to get involved with. For those who want to flex their journalistic muscles, there’s always the KUSU student newspaper Fresh to get involved with. If you can't find a society that explores your interests, KUSU will even help you to set up your own society.
Freshers’ Week is a great opportunity to meet like-minded undergraduates and find out more about the Students’ Union. KUSU organises a yearly Freshers’ Fair for undergraduates to explore the variety of clubs and societies that Kingston has to offer. There’s the Freshers’ Ball to look forward to, various fancy dress nights, live music, comedy and other events to help you settle into university life.
Kingston University’s Careers and Employability Service helps smooth the transition from student to young professional. It runs a jobshop with information of latest employment opportunities, internships and vacation schemes. Along with CV advice, the Careers Service also puts on a series of careers event throughout the year to get you hobnobbing with graduate employers.