(Original post by georget1)
I have got offers from Durham Bristol and Exeter - while I shall probably put Exeter as my insurance, I need to decide between the former two as to which to put as my firm choice. This is how I see it:
Pros: Location and surroundings are very nice, facilities seem very good, the Wills Memorial building where Law department is housed seems very nice. The grades are AAA. Accommodation seems nice, especially catered halls (much like Durham's colleges), albeit slightly far out.
Cons: Bristol seems to be moving down league tables and there seems to be a general consensus that departments such as law are not how they once were. Not sure how much truth there is in this? Compared to Durham and Exeter, both of which have been recently added to the Russell Group and appear to be on the up. Then again, whenever I tell anyone I've got an offer from Bristol, they seem very impressed, and it seems Bristol are quite snooty when giving out offers.
Pros: Collegiate system seems to be very good and supportive, easy to get to know people. Accommodation sorted in college, as is food - all catered. Brand new law school department building opening by science area. Academic wise, Durham seems very good and on the up in league tables and general performance.
Cons: Grades are A*AA which might/will be hard to achieve. Location! Very far north and perhaps a culture shock having lived always in the south east? But then again, I am told there are quite a few posh types and a lot of the student body comes from down south, so probably not an issue. But the surrounding area is no where near as nice as Bristol. Then again, Durham itself is small and compact and whilst areas outside of Durham itself are horrible, its compactness as a city makes up for its northern location.
Basically, for me, Durham wins on academic position/perception and the fact it is a collegiate university but not keen on it being so far north and how I would adapt to that/whether culture is very different. Bristol trumps on location and buildings, but my only concern is whether academically it is declining..as opposed to Durham and Exeter, both of which seem to be improving in recent years.
Has Bristol had its time at the top and will decline now? If I had Durham's academics and college system in Bristol's location and buildings, it would be perfect. Suppose I shall have to sacrifice on something. Ultimately though, I think the type of people who attend both are very similar, which probably matters more than all the other element.
Hopefully this is useful for others considering and any help/advice or other opinions would be much appreciated.