Aberystwyth is on the coast of mid-Wales between the mountains and the sea. The University has about 8,500 degree students, from over 100 countries around the world.
Aberystwyth always tops the student satisfaction surveys, both as a university and as a town. The Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey, published in 2009, placed Aberystwyth as offering 'the best all-round student experience in the Country'. The Times Good University Guide 2010 also placed Aberystwyth as Number 1 for student satisfaction. Academic wise, the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) showed that 85% of research at Aberystwyth University is of an international standard or better, with “World Leading” research found in 15 of the 16 subject areas. The recent International Student Barometer survey placed Aberystwyth as the number one university in the world for student satisfaction. Additionally the Times Higher Education’s Student Experience Survey published in 2010 rated Aberystwyth as fourth in the UK for teaching and learning, as well as in the top 10 for academic facilities.
There are six libraries in Aberystwyth (four that belong to the university). There's the Hugh Owen Library, which is the main library on the main Penglais campus, along with the Physical Sciences library in the Physical Sciences building (covering mainly physics, computer science and maths, but also a bit of geography). There's also the Thomas Parry Library, on Llanbadarn Campus, which stores mainly materials for students studying in the Institute of Rural Sciences and the Department of Information Studies). The Old College library has a collection geared towards students studying Education and Welsh.
The three libraries together hold in excess of 1 million items. Opening times are OK, not the best (8:30am - midnight weekdays during term time, 12:00 - 6:00pm weekends during term-time, and 8:30 - 5:30 during vacations, weekdays only).
Aberystwyth is also home to the National Library of Wales, which is a copyright library (other examples include the British Library in London and the Bodleian at Oxford). This means that it is entitled to a copy of every book published in the UK, and it also means that Aber has the highest book:person ratio in the UK. It is not possible to take items from this library out on loan, but you can view them all on request.
There is a public library in town, Ceredigion Library , it is free to join with free wifi internet access, computers, printer, photocopying, books, dvds and music to loan. You can search their holdings and reserve and renew online. The library is friendly, welcoming and a nice place to sit and read the papers and magazines, browse the shelves and find out what's going on in the town. The library is at the top of Corporation Street, opposite Kane's Bar and the next street towards the seafront from Varsity
IT and Computing
COMPUTING There are are large number of computers available for student use in several rooms dotted around campus, and in all four libraries. There are a large number of learning resources available, including fast Internet access, electronic journals, and a large number specialist software applications such as Minitab and CorelDraw. Welsh speakers are also accommodated well with language specific software. During the summer of 2010, most computers were upgraded to Windows 7. Fast internet (10MB/sec) is also available from hall bedrooms, with a wireless network available from all academic buildings.
PRINTING/PHOTOCOPYING The printing and photocopying system have recently been overhauled. Printing is simple; just send your work to a central computer system, then go to one of the heavy duty printer/photocopying machines (dotted about the library and computer rooms), swipe your library card and choose what you want to print. Prints will come out double-sided unless you specify when you send it to the printers not to be double sided. It is 5p for a B&W print/A4 copy, and 35p for a colour print. Printed credit can be topped up on your library card from any of the payment machines located around the printing facilities.
Applicants per place:
The University has good sporting facilities. Up on the Penglais campus is the main sports centre which has a swimming pool, gym, weights room, sports hall for things like badminton and basketball, dance studio and also BoxRox, the indoor climbing wall. The sports centre runs a variety of daytime and evening classes for all abilities (check out the sports centre website www.aber.ac.uk/sportscentre). In addition, there is also an astropitch which is floodlit for use in the evenings, and the Sports Cage which has two squash courts and a large indoor sports area for the likes of football, netball, tennis etc. There are two playing fields, Vicarage Road (Vic) which has cricket pitches and nets, tennis courts, football and rugby pitches, and the larger Blaendolau (referred to simply as Blan) which has several rugby and football pitches, as well as artificial cricket wickets, nets and an American football pitch.
There are numerous sports clubs that students can join, for which you require a Sporty Card. The Sporty Card not only allows you to join the clubs, but also provides insurance when participating in the sports, allows you to play in BUSA matches, as well as other benefits such as reduced rates for the gym and swimming pool.
There are several highlights of the sporting year at Aber. Prior to Freshers week is Sports Week where freshers can arrive a week early and try out a number of sports, as well as getting to know people (the sports people are a very sociable lot). Then there is the annual Superteams event run over two weekends (Friday-Sunday) around March/April time. This involves teams of seven (women's the first weekend, men's the second) competing against each other over three days in a variety of sporting events (football, tug-o-war, volleyball, basketball, gym test, college mile, swimming, canoeing, sprints), cumulating in an after party where prizes are given out on the final Sunday. Then over the Bank Holiday weekend at the beginning of May is the Rugby 7's tournament. This is hugely popular with teams entering from all over the place. There are both men's and women's events, each further divided in to the 'serious' league and the 'social' league (for those just there to have fun).
Welfare plays a big part of your time here at Aber, everything is done to make sure you settle in as easily as possible. In your department, you will be issued with a personal tutor who you will meet with several times a year in order to discuss personal issues or issues relating to your course.
Each hall of residence has a dedicated residential team of wardens to ensure that your time in halls is as pleasant as possible. You can easily approach one of the wardens if you need to discuss an issue with them, such as moving rooms or other residential issues.
The Guild of Students (Students' Union) also have a dedicated team of advisors if you need to speak to someone if things get tough. There is also a student-run Nightline service based in Aber, available on 01970 621717 (or 1717 internally).
If you get into financial difficulty the University has a hardship fund which you can apply to if you are really in need of some extra cash. However, you have to prove that you are in genuine financial trouble, and the university will not help you if they think you have been wasting your student loan on getting drunk every night.
The new Student Welcome Centre provides numerous support services to students, including a counsellor and money-doctor.
There are a few doctors and dentists surgeries dotted around town; upon arrival in Aberystwyth one of the things you will have to do is complete a medical questionnaire, and hand it back into your Residence reception It will then be sent off to the NHS, and in due course you will recieve an NHS card with your NHS number, address, and doctor's surgery on it. There is also the University health centre, located on the sea front next to the Old College, but this is just an advice centre, not a fully-fledged surgery. Due to heavy demand for the dentist service, it is advisable to remain registered with a dentist at home.
Bronglais hospital, the main hospital serving the Aberystwyth area, is located just downhill from the main Penglais campus. The Penglais campus also holds a Student Heath Centre with medical staff available for drop-in sessions.
Unfortunately, one of the downsides of living in Aberystwyth can be the lack of shopping when compared to a large city. However, all is not lost. Aberystwyth is actually surprisingly well-equipped for a small Welsh town, and can cater for just about everything you need. There are quite a few national chain shops, including Boots, Next, Argos, Matalan, Peacocks, WH Smith, Officers Club, Burtons, Monsoon, Evans, Laura Ashely, New Look, Dorothy Perkins, Waterstones, Poundland, Game etc, so there is enough here to get by, there is more than enough here to get by, although if you like your shopping your best bet is to hop on the train to Birmingham or the X40 bus to Swansea or Cardiff. You won't find your River Islands or your TopShops (although there is always internet shopping), but you will find a lot of specialist independent shops, particularly selling Welsh goods, and some of these can provide good opportunities for buying unusual gifts. Some of them are also handy for basic things like household goods or other items, Charlies Stores, nestled behind the Cambrian, is good for this.
As for supermarkets, Aber has quite a few, although no Tesco/Sainsburys/ASDA. In the town centre you will find 3 SPAR shops (one of them 24 hours!), an Iceland and a Lidl, as well as a Co-Op near the newish retail park on the edge of the town centre positioned around the train station. On the top of Penglais campus there is a moderatley large sized 'CK's' which is the main place for on campus students to shop, prices in CK's tend to be higher than those in the shops in town. There's also a Morrisons on the Parc-y-Llyn retail park, situated on the edge of town, which is the cheapest supermarket in the Aber area, but a pain to get to if you don't drive. The best way for non-drivers would be to get the Number 1 bus, which serves town, the seafront halls, both Uni campuses and Morrisons. It's £1.20 a go, or you can get a £180 AHA ticket which gives access to all Aber area buses for free and buses travelling further [such as the TrawsCambria network] at 50% fare. Mid-Wales travel are fairly cheap with the fee being 90p from Morrisons to the campus on the X28 service, which continues to Machynlleth, a small town 45 minutes away in Powys. Morrisons has also recently expanded and had a complete store refurbishment, and is now the biggest shop in town. It shares its retail park with Halfords, for all your motoring needs, Comet for electricals and also B&Q for DIY bits. Just across the road is a hotel, Aberystwyth Park Lodge and the only McDonalds in and around Aberystwyth.
On the fast-food restaurant front, Aberystwyth has the chains of McDonalds and KFC to keep everyone filled with junk. McDonalds is on the edge of town near Morrisons, making it a bit of pain to get to if you don't drive. The Number 1 bus stops over the road though. KFC inhabits the old site of Burger King, being right in town and easy to get to, but not quite as large as Maccie D's. For pizza, Hollywood Pizza (Pier St) does good quality pizzas at reasonable prices, and there is also a Domino's if you like paying more for less. Marco'a pizza at the bottom of Penglias hill does pizzas for those on the late night walk back up to the campus, though the pizzas are lesser quality and tend to be very greasy. Other places for pizza is the small pizza diner in the back of 'Inn on' the pier, Wednesday's being particularly popular with students as during 12-5pm selected alcoholic drinks are buy one get one free (bogof), and between 12-6pm all pizzas are bogof ('eat in' only). These offers can be claimed by presenting your Aber student card.
There are also plenty of places to get your kebab after a big night out. Sam's Fried Chicken is near Stars (the fancy dress shop) and stays open late to feed lots of hungry drunk students. They do a kebab pizza, which is rather good at absorb excess alcohol. Lip Lickin' Chicken is also much within the same vein, and these are not the only two places to get some hard earned munchies after dancing the night away.
As any good seaside town should, Aber is not short of a chippy or two. Behind Penglais campus (just opposite the supermarket) there's a chippy, but just check it's opening hours because it doesn't stay open as late as some might like. In town there's a fairly big selection of where to go for your fish and chips.
There are also places to get Indian, Chinese and pizza from.
Aberystwyth also has its gems of restaurants. The Pier's Brasserie provides rather lovely views over the bay and Aber itself, with a great time to go being sunset in summer. It's normally quite quiet and the menu is lovely, for those who love fish and similarly those who don't. Tides is a new restaurant situated on the seafront, just opposite the pier, and this offers elegance and good food, as does the Gwesty Cymru hotel and restaurant, once again situated on the seafront.
Lloyds TSB, NatWest, Barclays, HSBC, Nationwide, Abbey, and Halifax all have a presence in Aber. There's no Co-Op or RBS (although NatWest is owned by RBS). There are also a couple of cash machines on campus, as well as plenty in town
Trains are two-hourly to Birmingham International (which connects to the NEC and the Airport), taking about 3 hours 20 minutes. Cheap day return is about £14 with a railcard. Popular destinations on the service include Shrewsbury (for connections to Manchester and Cardiff), Wolverhampton (for connections to the north west and Edinburgh) and Birmingham New Street (for services to Aberdeen, Bournemouth, Leeds, London, Cambridge, Newcastle, Glasgow, Nottingham and Plymouth)
Aber has an extensive local bus network on the TransCambria network, which goes to places such as Bangor, Caernarfon, Lampeter, Carmarthen, Swansea and Cardiff.
Taxis are very cheap in town, obviously company dependent but they usually £3 per journey flat fare in the daytime, and £4 at night. The majority of taxis are normal 5 seat cars, so 4 seats for passengers. There are however a couple of companies that offer a mini bus service. These can hold around 8 people and are £1 each.
Aber Careers is the main careers advisory service for the university. Throughout each of your three years they will provide you will useful information and seminars on things like CVs, interviews, and application forms. They also run an appointment service where you can talk to a careers advisor on what you want to do after graduation. There is also an extensive careers library.
For such as small town, Aber is well-equipped when it comes to looking for a part-time job. There are many pubs and clubs which always want bar staff, and shops are always looking for people, particularly seasonal workers over the summer tourist period. Joblink, run by Aber Careers and the Union, specialises in helping you find part time jobs.
The are a couple of religious societies at the University, Methsoc and Cathsoc. There was talk of a Jewish Society but it didn't manage to gain enough members this year. Methsoc meets on Sunday evenings at St. Pauls Methodist Church and on Tuesdays at the Manse. Cathsoc on the other hand meets on Wednesday evenings at St Winifred's and on a Sunday after the morning service. There is also a Christian Union, however they are not actually part of the university. They were kicked out a few years ago for not displaying equal rights to women. Despite this they do have a strong presence around campus. They meet on Friday evenings at the PJM amenities block. There are many churches of different denominations around town, so there is sure to be one to suit every need.
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Bars, Pubs and clubs
Believe it or not, there are well over 50 alcohol-serving establishments in Aberystwyth! There's everything from cheesy nightclubs such as Pier Pressure, to family pubs such as Wetherspoons, to more "fun" pubs such as the Academy and the late-opening Bay, and classy cocktail bars such as the Cambrian. Most pubs charge around the same for a drink (typically in the £1.40-£2.20 range), but there are a number of differences to this. Rummers for example, has a VERY popular "happy hour", where vodka, gin and whisky are all just 60p a shot! This occurs all night Tuesdays, and from 7-9:30 on all other days. Other gems in the Aberystwyth pub scene include Cambrian cocktails (expensive but highly intoxicating), and Downies, where you can get a quadruple vodka and Red Bull for £4.
A typical night out would probably start at Wetherspoons, then head to two or three stops in town before hitting either Pier Pressure (simply known as Pier) and then Why Not (often referred to as Yokos); Aber may have a lot of pubs and bars, but there are only two nightclubs, Pier Pressure and Why Not. Pier Pressure holds a "pound party" most weekdays with entry costing between £2 and £5, when most drinks are just £1 each! Aberystwyth does have a single 24 hour pub, also on the Pier called "Inn on the Pier". However since converting to 24 hour licensing, its prices have risen (half pint of Coke £1.30, pint £2.65) - although if you get a drink before 11:30pm on a pound party night in the "Inn," you get £2 off entry to Pier Pressure. Yokos also do a pound party every night up until 12:30am, after 12:30 prices rise and people tend to drift off to Pier Pressure. It closes when those left in Yokos start to leave back for home(usually around 3-4am on weekends, 1-3am on weekdays).
Undoubtedly the biggest social event of the year is the May Ball (yes, unlike Cambridge it is actually held in May!), which sees most of the university population decked out in smart suits and dresses sipping champagne and watching the booked bands. Recent acts to perform at the May Ball include Chesney Hawkes, Jools Holland, Liberty X, and Feeder. The ball was previously held on campus (with the Arts Centre holding most of the events), but now takes place at Pontryhydfendigaid Hall, an events venue to the south of Aberystwyth that is accessed by coaches that are laid on. Things to do at the May Ball usually include a chocolate fountain, fun fair, live acts, and a lot more besides.
As well as this special occassion, the social calendar in Aberystwyth is hectic. Different events occur on a daily basis, whether it be organised by the Union or by the numerous clubs and societies. You will also find a regular array of sporting events occuring throughout the year, including the popular Rugby 7's tournament, held in May of each year.
Clubs and societies
There are literally hundreds of clubs and societies to choose from, and you get to decide which ones to join at Freshers' Fayre, held over the Tuesday and Wednesday of Freshers' Week. There are academic and non-academic societies, ranging from Aber Paintball, Aber GeogSoc, Aber MUN (Model United Nations) to AberPride (LGBT Soc), with much more as well, which can all be found recruiting members at the Societies fair during Freshers week. Sports clubs include shooting, football, riding, rugby, lacrosse, badminton and ultimate frisbee, but this is just a select few, with many more as well. Most sporting societies come under the Athletics Union, where there really is something for everyone. During freshers' week, a fair is held where all the sports clubs can be found giving lots of free things away and telling you why you want to join them.
All societies will charge a small membership fee, usually around £3-6. You will also need a Board of Societies card (£3) in order to join societies, as well as a Club Sporty card (£41) to join sporting societies. The Sporty card also gives you access to the university sports centre, as well as insuring you to take part in any sport club activites.
First year undergraduate students are guaranteed a place in University-owned and managed accommodation providing they apply and respond to their offer within the time frames given. Students generally move out into the private sector for their second year, and often move back to Pentre Jane Morgan (the student village) for their third year, although priority for accommodation is always given to the first years.
Most residences have their own or are near to a laundry and computer room. All have a dedicated wardening team as well as a 24hr security network.
Accomodation is located either on the main Penglais campus, in town, or on the seafront. A quick rundown of each residence is below.
Penbryn Supposed to be catered, but you get a pre-loaded meal card with a set cash value which some may find only enough for one meal a day. The restaurant is recently refurbished and is now multi award winning for the quality of the food provided. The halls have their own own laundry and computer room. Quite old, and it shows, although refurbishments are currently taking place. Penbryn has very large halls sizes compared to the other residences, you could be sharing with up to 20 others! First years take up the majority of Penbryn. 550-ish students.
Pantycelyn Found between campus and the hospital and is mostly Welsh-speaking, being home mainly to students with Welsh as their first language. Nice-looking building, but has a lot of twin rooms. Also catered with the meal card, and provides a computer room and a laundry facilities. 250-ish students
Cwrt Mawr. The main self-catered halls on campus (so consequently has a reputation for being very party-like). Flats vary from 6 - 11 people, some blocks were recently done up, with some being more than others (Blocks D, E block have sofas and a brand new kitchen, which the ones without are very envious about!) Cwrt Mawr also has an amenity block with laundry facilities. Cwrt Mawr used to have its own bar, games room with arcade machines and pool tables along with its own dedicated reception however as of September 2012 these facilities have been withdrawn from the amenities block leaving just the laundry room. Cwrt Mawr's reception can now be found at the Penbryn main reception.
Trefloyne A more recently-built version of Cwrt Mawr where all flats have 7 rooms. Shares a laundry and computer room with Rosser. Many of the Trefloyne flats have been refurbished in recent years, and now include leather sofas in the kitchen areas. 150-ish students
Rosser The only en-suite residence on campus, so is very popular despite its rather small rooms. 8 people to a flat and was built around the same time as Trefloyne. Has a computer room and laundry facilities. As per usual en suite rooms, Rosser gives it's students rooms having their own shower, sink and toilet, while sharing a kitchen with the 7 other members of their flat. The flats in Rosser are generally the least refurbished so have older style kitchens. 300-ish students
Pentre Jane Morgan. Aberystwyth's own housing estate, 'the student village' can be found over the bridge from the main road from Penbryn and campus. Pentre Jane Morgan consists of 'proper' houses of 5 or 6 students. Mainly a third year place, but home to a lot of freshers too, as student numbers rise. Has an amenity block with computer room and laundry. It's the largest residence, with nearly 1000 students, but it does have a stroing sense of community, and is surprisingly quiet.
Brynderw. Next to the School of Art, overlooking the retail park with Lidl and Argos, and the train station/bus station. About halfway from the centre of town, and penglais campus. Self-catered flats of 4-6 people, non-ensuite. Does not have its own laundry, although there are a few laundrettes located nearby in town. 150-ish students.
Seafront residences. Most are on the seafront, some are on the street behind. Alexandra Hall is the most recently refurbished with some en-suites, but is the most expensive. There are laundries in Alexandra Hall and Pumlumon, but nearest computer rooms are in the Old College. You'll get great views if you get a sea view room, or a not so lovely view over the car par behind! Clarendon House is also here, which offers en-suite accomodation for postgrads. 700-ish students.
Rents are around the £85 a week margin for self-catered, £97 for en-suite, and about £103 a week for catered (no en-suite available). Self-catered accommodation includes the Christmas and Easter vacations, and catered now also covers this period (excluding Pantycalen). The fees include basic contents insurance and a high speed internet connection.
Private sector accomodation in Aberystwyth can vary, and the better accomodation is in pretty short supply. Most second year students will live in the private sector for their second year, and most of these houses are located in the town centre itself. Private sector houses range from huge 10-bedroom houses to small 4-person flats. Some students also live in Llanbadarn village and in Waun Fawr [the village behind Penglais campus at the top of the hill, you'll go through it if you're getting the bus to Morrisons/Llanbadarn]. The standard is usually pretty good; the Accomodation Office holds a list of private sector housing, along with the landlords' contact details. Estate agents are also in town which cater for students, but experience has shown it to be better, and cheaper, to not go through the agents and instead contact landlords directly. Rents in town vary, you could pay from £50-80 a week, and bills are NOT included in most cases, including internet.
The list of the main Union activities are listed here:
Monday - Monday Night Movies
Tuesday - Comedy Works (Every other week)
Wednesday - Varies
Thursday - Jinx's Rock Night - last Thursday of the month
Friday - WEEK.END - one of the union's biggest nights with the cheapest drinks promos!
Saturday - RELOAD -
Sunday - The Sunday Night Bar Quiz - some great prizes to be won in this!
The Union also has a work station linked to the computer network, and a cafe called the Underground, at which students can purchase food during the day and throughout some of the evening events.
Student Union drink prices vary depending on which night you are there, but on the whole you will not pay more than £3 for a drink, and that is on an expensive night. On Fridays, which is WEEK.END, most bottles are £1, making the event quite popular. At RELOAD on Saturdays, bottles are £1.50. There are lots more promotions too, Wednesday's themed nights generally keep the prices low.
Campus architecture tends to be typical brutalist 1960's university campus type, especially since most of the Penglais Campus was built in the 1960's, (with some exceptions to this such as the new International Politics building). However, the Penglais campus boasts great views of the sea and of town, the best spots being the Arts Centre/Piazza, and the top floor of the Llandinam [Geography] Tower.
There are differences to this though. The Old College, on the Promenade, looks more like a castle than a university building [it was orginall envisaged to be a hotel but its owners went bust before it opened], and the Art Department [overlooking the train station and Argos/Iceland/Lidl next to Brynderw hall] is another exampleof older architecture within the University.
There are 10 subject areas taught at Aberystwyth feature in the top 10 for student satisfaction with teaching according to the Guardian University Guide 2009. They are: 1. Physics: 1st with student teaching satisfaction of 94% 2. Sports and Exercise Science: 3rd with student teaching satisfaction of 97% 3. Earth and Marine Sciences: joint 3rd with student teaching satisfaction of 94% 4. Economics: 3rd with student teaching satisfaction of 91% 5. Geography and Environmental Studies: 4th with student teaching satisfaction of 95% 6. Agriculture and Forestry: Joint 4th with student teaching satisfaction 88% 7. American Studies: Joint 4th with student teaching satisfaction of 93% 8. Media Studies, Communications and Librarianship: joint 6th with student teaching satisfaction of 81% 9. Politics: 7th with student teaching satisfaction of 93% 10. English: 10th with student teaching satisfaction of 94%
The teaching of Physics at Aberystwyth University has prompted the highest level of satisfaction amongst students of the subject at University level in the UK according to the Guardian University Guide 2009.
Other subject areas taught at Aberystwyth that feature in the top 30 include Computer Science 11th (85%), Art and Design 18th (82%), History 22nd (93%), European Languages 22nd (89%) and Biosciences 27th (82%).
The Department of International Politics has a world-class research environment committed to producing cutting-edge work on the key theoretical and practical challenges of contemporary international politics. Having achieved the highest possible ranking in the 2001 Research Assessment Exercise, the Department is recognized as one of the premier places to study Politics and International Relations in the UK, and has a long-standing international reputation for excellence.
How Do I Apply to Aberystwyth?
- Our UCAS code is ABWTH A40 The Application Procedure
Equality of Consideration Everyone is eligible to apply to us for admission as a student. We make no distinction on grounds such as sex, age, ethnic origin, disability, religion, marital/parental status, or any comparable grounds. Each application which we receive is considered on its own merit.
Widening Access Aberystwyth is committed to the widening of access. We offer, in partnership with other local HE and FE institutions, the nationally recognised West Wales Summer University which guarantees an appropriate progression route to Higher Education for eligible students from non-traditional backgrounds. Furthermore, Aberystwyth has traditionally operated a flexible policy towards the admission of mature-aged students, many of whom do not have conventional entrance requirements. Aberystwyth has a number of bursaries available for school/college leavers from low income families.
Other Aberystwyth Articles
Why not read these other Aberystwyth Articles? www.aber.ac.uk www.aber.ac.uk/aberonline