Top Ten Most Picturesque University Campuses
2012-06-27 01:03 PMStudent Life
When it comes to picking a university, some people want the best nightlife, some people want the best teaching, and some people want a uni with a world-beating academic reputation. For some people, however, it’s really important to go to a university which, more than anything, is pleasing on the eye. Nobody wants to spend three years studying in a concrete cube that was built in the late 1970s; attending lectures in a castle is far more appealing. With that in mind, here’s our breakdown of the most visually spectacular universities in the UK…
Is that a palace? No, it’s a university...
10. Bath Spa University
Coming in at número diez is Bath Spa University; a relatively new university, which appears to have wangled itself some pretty sweet surroundings. Newton Park, the largest of the university’s campuses, is a parkland estate leased from the Duchy of Cornwall, which dates back to the 18th century.
This absolute beauty of a university would have come higher in our rankings, except for the fact the university sells itself short on its very own website: “Bath Spa University has several campuses, two of which are exceptionally beautiful and historically significant.” Yep, that’s right! Bath Spa openly admits that it is half stunning, half ugly. Schoolboy error. Still, two out of four ain’t bad, right?
9. Cardiff University
Considering the fact that it’s based in the city centre, the Cardiff University campus is sickeningly attractive. Sure, a few of the buildings are architectural eyesores from the swinging 60s, but the rest are simply marvellous.
The Main Building, the Bute Building and the Glamorgan Building are particularly sexy specimens. What’s more, these Portland-stone marvels can be found nestled amongst peaceful gardens and tree-lined boulevards. Charming…just charming!
The university website doesn’t hold back when bigging-up its campus either. Prospective undergrads can drool over photo galleries, 360° views, videos with plinky-plonky music and various gushing paragraphs which describe the “elegant university estate” with serious gusto.
8. University of Nottingham
Nottingham may be widely regarded as the gun crime capital of England, but you won’t see any Smith & Wessons being brandished on the University of Nottingham’s jaw-droppingly gorgeous campuses. One thing’s for sure: this ain’t the ‘projects’ of West Baltimore.
According to the university website, the University Park Campus is “one of the largest and most attractive campuses in the country”, and they’re not wrong. Period buildings? Check. Peaceful gardens? Check. Enchanting woodland? Check. Boating lake? Check.
The award-winning Jubilee Campus is a modern oasis, which even the rudest of Nottingham’s rude boys would describe as ‘peng’. The Sutton Bonnington campus, located out in the sticks, ain’t too shabby either. Check out the campus videos and picture galleries on the university’s website, then give them a round of applause; they deserve it!
7. Royal Holloway, University of London
Although it masquerades as a London university, Royal Holloway is actually nowhere near the city centre. Way out west, on the cusp between Surrey and Greater London, it certainly benefits from its peaceful location outside of the Big Smoke. The Royal Holloway campus is, for want of a better word, ‘buff ting’.
It’s got it all: gardens, woodland, ponds and, the centre piece of it all, a palace. Ok, it’s not a palace, but the Grade I listed Founder’s Building was fashioned in the mould of the Château de Chambord in the Loire Valley in France. And it is AMAZING. Check out the Royal Holloway website’s 360° virtual tours for a closer look.
6. University of Greenwich
The London Borough of Greenwich is probably one of the most picturesque places to visit in the capital, and the University of Greenwich’s stunning campuses are one of the reasons it deserves this accolade. The university’s website is pretty quick to point this out with some whimsical campus tour videos.
The Greenwich Campus is a World Heritage Site, comprised of three baroque buildings, which were designed by Christopher Wren in the late 17th century. What’s more, it’s based on the south bank of the River Thames, with views over the impressive skyline of London’s financial districts.
The Avery Hill campus boasts a mansion, a handful of modern buildings and some rather splendid parkland, while the Medway campus, which is located further down the Thames in Kent, is an Edwardian redbrick masterpiece, covered in ivy and dripping with charm.
5. University of Surrey
The University of Surrey website describes the institution’s estate as “a campus to be proud of.” And they’re not wrong. If you check out the website’s plethora of 360° virtual tours and image galleries, the sheer beauty of the university’s campus is undeniable.
Designer gardens, futuristic structures and an exquisite lake complete the picture. Speaking of pictures, the University of Surrey have clearly gone the whole hog and employed a professional photographer to take snaps of the campus. The images on the website make the university and the surrounding countryside look like bloody Narnia.
4. The Courtauld Institute of Art
They say good things come in small packages. The Courtauld Institute of Art is certainly not a large package. All of its lecture theatres, teaching rooms and facilities can be found in one building. But what a building! Overlooking the River Thames, the neo-classical wonder of Somerset House makes it one of the most beautiful structures in London.
Its courtyard plays host to an ice rink in the winter, while fizzing fountains foxtrot across the quad in spring and summer. Inside and out, Somerset House is dazzling. Check out the university website and its 360° virtual tours. Seeing is believing.
3. University of the Highlands & Islands
To be honest, this university cheats a little bit. Comprised of 13 separate colleges, it lets the dramatic natural splendour of Scotland’s highlands and islands do most of the talking. The various campuses of the University of the Highlands & Islands use the fact that they're in the middle of nowhere to devastating effect. Simple, yet sublime.
If William Wordsworth was still alive and he rocked up to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, for example, he’d be absolutely wetting his pants with joy. Some of the locations are simply magnificent. If you like it wet (i.e. rainy) and wild, you should definitely check out this remote university.
2. University of Stirling
Widely regarded as one of the most beautiful campuses in the world, the University of Stirling doesn’t mess around when it comes to idyllic surroundings. Stirling really does have it all. It’s not quite Rivendell from the Lord of the Rings films, but it’s not far off.
It’s got a castle, lakes, woods, meadows and acres of green space where you can frolic with gay abandon. It’s even got its own 9-hole golf course!
The university certainly realises the magnetic power of its scenic campus. On the university website, you can do a virtual campus tour, watch virtual experience films and even enjoy a 60 second ‘Virtual Visit’. Kudos to you Stirling! Milk that scenery dry.
1. University of Roehampton
There’s no denying that the University of Roehampton campus is absolutely splendiferous. I was almost in tears when I saw the pictures of Grove House and its glorious gardens; partly because it’s just so beautiful and partly because the university I went to, in comparison, resembles a five-storey concrete turd.
You could argue that Roehampton doesn’t actually have the most beautiful campus in the UK, but the reason that it’s managed to grab the top spot is the university’s absolute dedication to ramming the beauty of its campus right down your throat.
As soon as you go on the homepage of the university website, KAPOW!, you’re slapped in the face with an inviting image of Roehampton’s most idyllic vista. I almost found myself reaching for a UCAS application form. And for that, Roehampton, we salute you!
With 360 acres of parkland, Lancaster University didn’t quite make the grade. It gets serious marks for effort though! The interactive 3D campus map on the website is definitely worth a shufty.
Unfortunately, this Welsh gem was let down by its architecture. Otherwise, its beachfront location would have propelled Swansea University right up the leaderboard.
Image courtesy of Bruce Asher, ‘I used to live there!’