Campus universities are a bit like Cup-a-Soup or Pot Noodles. Nope, they aren’t a hug in a mug, nor do they come in dubious “meat” flavours, but they do have all their ingredients in one pot; you just need to add the hot water (or in this case, the students). Essentially, a campus university’s student accommodation, teaching rooms, research labs and other facilities are all located in one place.
Campus universities are different to collegiate universities, like Oxford and Cambridge, which are split across various different colleges and sites. You won’t hear the word ‘campus’ being bandied around at Oxford or Cambridge, but it’ll be in common parlance at institutions like the University of Essex, the University of East Anglia and the University of Bath.
The original campus universities, such as York, Birmingham and Warwick, were built between 1950 and 1970. These were usually located on the outskirts of town and caused such a stir when they opened that they even spawned their own genre of literature: campus novels.
Nowadays, some of the original campus universities have branched out with one or more sites, and often the majority of university accommodation is located off-campus. To add to the confusion, most modern universities now refer to their separate sites as ‘campuses’. Consequently, a genuine campus university, where everything is located on one site, is a bit of a rare beast.
What are the advantages & disadvantages of going to a campus university?
- You can roll straight out of bed into your lecture halls. Not literally though, obviously.
- Many campus universities are completely self-contained: you can eat, drink, sleep, learn, go to the doctors, shop, get your haircut and party all in one place. We’ll let you decide whether that’s a good thing or not.
- Campus living can engender a close knit community. Some campuses are practically ‘mini towns’ in themselves, feeling very secure and student-oriented. Some students thrive in this kind of environment, while others can find the whole ‘campus bubble’ a bit too claustrophobic.
- Non-campus universities can be sprawled out, dominated by the city in which they reside. Students will spend more time and more money travelling between different university sites, whereas campus universities conveniently have most of their facilities in close range.
- Campus universities are often located on the outskirts of a town or city, although there are some exceptions, such as Aston University. Some people might prefer being closer to the action. It can get expensive travelling into the city or town centre, particularly if it means you have to get a taxi to and from nightlife spots.
For some people, campus universities provide exactly the atmosphere they need to thrive at university, whilst others might find themselves itching to escape. The best way you can decide whether or not a campus university is right for you is to go and have a look for yourself.