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Chemistry Research, Durham University
Durham University
Durham
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Durham or Leeds uni??

I have offers from both of these uni's to study French and Spanish and I'm so unsure about which one to firm. I've always loved Durham and when I went for the post offer visit day I kind of fell in love with the city and my college. But part of me is worried that it seems a bit like a boarding school and wouldn't really be a change from what I'm used to? I loved Leeds so much as it is such a cool city and would be a great all round uni experience. Could anyone give me some advice?
Full disclosure before we get started; I did my undergraduate at Leeds and now I'm staff at Durham.

I can only really explain the differences between the two universities. I don't want to sway you either way because you'd need need to be happy with that choice.

From my point of view there doesn't appear to be a massive difference in the standard of teaching, and that's pretty much where the similarities end.

Durham is a much more traditional university and has an excellent pastoral support system through the colleges which results in it having an exceptionally low drop-out rate. Durham also allocates 'academic advisors' that are based in departments and, in order to separate 'home' and 'work' problems, they'd practically only deal with academic issues. At Leeds the pastoral support usually falls to personal tutors based in departments, and they'd signpost students to support services. Both Durham and Leeds have central support services (e.g. counselling), but at Durham the college staff are more willing to assist with smaller issues than personal tutors at Leeds usually would be.

Because Leeds is a larger university and in a larger city there are many more opportunities available to expand your horizons. Leeds has nearly 300 student societies covering everything from Anime to Zoology. At Durham you'd be able to find something to suit your interests; there are societies run in colleges and also through the Student's Union, but these might not be as wide-ranging as the offer at Leeds. If you're planning regular nights out Durham may get boring pretty quickly, but a lot of students travel up to Newcastle at least once. With Leeds all this is practically on your doorstep.

Undergraduate students at both Durham and Leeds usually stay in university accommodation in their first year. At Leeds this tends to be self-catered but there is a large refectory in the centre of campus open all day (8am - 9pm term time weekdays), so you needn't go hungry if you don't feel like cooking. At Durham the colleges tend to be catered with relatively fixed mealtimes (e.g. 2 hours for each meal service), although the colleges realise students would prefer this to be more flexible and that might be something they look into for the future.

In summary, Durham is a more supportive University than Leeds, but Leeds is a bit more dynamic and would allow you to expand your horizons more. That might not be too much of an issue with the course you're doing as I'd imagine you'll do a year abroad. The choice is yours!

Hope this helps :-)
Chemistry Research, Durham University
Durham University
Durham
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Durham is a great uni, but like you say will be very similar to any public school. Leeds on the other hand being bigger will have a much more balanced feel (that said it is deceptively 'rah' ).

Both are great academically, and for employment prospects.

In terms of culture Durham is full of your traditional posh kids whereas Leeds is very much more the 'edgy' side of posh.
(edited 6 years ago)
Reply 3
Original post by lucy_georgina
I have offers from both of these uni's to study French and Spanish and I'm so unsure about which one to firm. I've always loved Durham and when I went for the post offer visit day I kind of fell in love with the city and my college. But part of me is worried that it seems a bit like a boarding school and wouldn't really be a change from what I'm used to? I loved Leeds so much as it is such a cool city and would be a great all round uni experience. Could anyone give me some advice?

Hi, you may not see this now but my son is in exactly the same situation as you were 6 years ago! What did you decide and were you happy with your decision? Thanks
Original post by Lewster1
Hi, you may not see this now but my son is in exactly the same situation as you were 6 years ago! What did you decide and were you happy with your decision? Thanks


Hi there

Congratulations on your son's offer! I can provide some insight into this situation, having been studying at Durham for almost 2 years now.

Durham's a collegiate university, which means students have access to a two-tier support system- one at the college level and the other at the university level. These services include welfare and mental health support, financial support like bursaries and scholarships, academic support in the form of an academic advisor but also college mentors, as well as more opportunities for socialising through college and university-wide events. A big difference would also be in terms of city life- as beautiful as it is, Durham is a small town while Leeds is a much bigger city. While there is a lot to get involved in at uni like college and society events, Durham might seem a bit restrictive for him as compared to Leeds where there is much more to get involved in outside of the university as well. But students tend to go to Newcastle once in a while (which is only 13 mins away by train) to experience the city life so that's a potential solution. You may also want to look at which universities Leeds and Durham have partnerships with to go on a year abroad and if there are any that are particularly favourable to your son.

-Himieka
Reply 5
Original post by Durham Students
Hi there

Congratulations on your son's offer! I can provide some insight into this situation, having been studying at Durham for almost 2 years now.

Durham's a collegiate university, which means students have access to a two-tier support system- one at the college level and the other at the university level. These services include welfare and mental health support, financial support like bursaries and scholarships, academic support in the form of an academic advisor but also college mentors, as well as more opportunities for socialising through college and university-wide events. A big difference would also be in terms of city life- as beautiful as it is, Durham is a small town while Leeds is a much bigger city. While there is a lot to get involved in at uni like college and society events, Durham might seem a bit restrictive for him as compared to Leeds where there is much more to get involved in outside of the university as well. But students tend to go to Newcastle once in a while (which is only 13 mins away by train) to experience the city life so that's a potential solution. You may also want to look at which universities Leeds and Durham have partnerships with to go on a year abroad and if there are any that are particularly favourable to your son.

-Himieka


Thankyou so much for your reply! I think he's currently swaying towards Durham but I have a few concerns. He's state educated and goes to an outstanding sixth form college but I've read numerous comments on a different forum about classism and some students feeling they are elite due to being privately educated. Can I ask if you have any experience of this? We are currently looking at colleges and feel I'd rather put Hill colleges first where the population may be more diverse? Thanks
Reply 6
I’m nervous about the class divide at durham. I’m from Lancashire , from a state school and background is certainly not “posh” and I’ve never had any experience of “formals” etc etc . can anyone please give me an honest opinion of how life is and how difficult someone from my background would find it to fit in . It’s my biggest anxiety about coming to Durham
Original post by Lewster1
Thankyou so much for your reply! I think he's currently swaying towards Durham but I have a few concerns. He's state educated and goes to an outstanding sixth form college but I've read numerous comments on a different forum about classism and some students feeling they are elite due to being privately educated. Can I ask if you have any experience of this? We are currently looking at colleges and feel I'd rather put Hill colleges first where the population may be more diverse? Thanks


Original post by Anonymous
I’m nervous about the class divide at durham. I’m from Lancashire , from a state school and background is certainly not “posh” and I’ve never had any experience of “formals” etc etc . can anyone please give me an honest opinion of how life is and how difficult someone from my background would find it to fit in . It’s my biggest anxiety about coming to Durham


Hi there

I can totally understand your concerns, I don't come from a particularly wealthy background either and was nervous about this as well. I'll be honest with you, you will find posh students at Durham. Many of them are private-schooled and come from London. However, this does not necessarily mean they are all rude and classist. Also there are students who come from other backgrounds as well, like me, you and so many others. But people can be rude irrespective of the background so I don't think we can generalise any particular demographic. I have found so many nice friends from different countries and backgrounds and have personally never faced any form of discrimination at Durham. People I've met have been very open to getting to know me and I have been the same. Irrespective of which uni you go to, you will find these kinds of people and it's up to you whether you want to hangout with them or not.

Ofcourse just because some people have had bad experiences doesn't mean that yours will be the same. Your experience will be what you make of it, so you can simply avoid people that don't fit your personality. Also from what I've seen, positive experiences tend to go mostly unannounced and people unsatisfied with a particular experience are more likely to voice them (understandably so). So even though I can understand that you might've read a number of such things on the internet, I can promise you that Durham is not entirely like that. I and so many other people I know can vouch for that. There is also support available if you face any form of discrimination at university and it's always best to report such behaviour. Each college also has a Working Class Rep and Welfare Rep who you can approach if you face any problems or just need someone to talk to. There is a society called 93% club which offers a platform for you to meet other students from state school backgrounds and share experiences, opinions, concerns and useful social/educational resources.

Also, formals are nothing but a nice black-tie dinner with people from your college. It's nothing super fancy, it just gives you a nice dining experience and more Harry Potter vibes if you go to a gowned college. It's in a super chilled environment so there's nothing to be wary of. Hopefully, this puts you at ease a little bit but please feel free to raise any more concerns/questions you have and I'll try my best to answer them :smile:

-Himieka
(edited 10 months ago)
Reply 8
Original post by Durham Students
Hi there

I can totally understand your concerns, I don't come from a particularly wealthy background either and was nervous about this as well. I'll be honest with you, you will find posh students at Durham. Many of them are private-schooled and come from London. However, this does not necessarily mean they are all rude and classist. Also there are students who come from other backgrounds as well, like me, you and so many others. But people can be rude irrespective of the background so I don't think we can generalise any particular demographic. I have found so many nice friends from different countries and backgrounds and have personally never faced any form of discrimination at Durham. People I've met have been very open to getting to know me and I have been the same. Irrespective of which uni you go to, you will find these kinds of people and it's up to you whether you want to hangout with them or not.

Ofcourse just because some people have had bad experiences doesn't mean that yours will be the same. Your experience will be what you make of it, so you can simply avoid people that don't fit your personality. Also from what I've seen, positive experiences tend to go mostly unannounced and people unsatisfied with a particular experience are more likely to voice them (understandably so). So even though I can understand that you might've read a number of such things on the internet, I can promise you that Durham is not entirely like that. I and so many other people I know can vouch for that. There is also support available if you face any form of discrimination at university and it's always best to report such behaviour. Each college also has a Working Class Rep and Welfare Rep who you can approach if you face any problems or just need someone to talk to. There is a society called 93% club which offers a platform for you to meet other students from state school backgrounds and share experiences, opinions, concerns and useful social/educational resources.

Also, formals are nothing but a nice black-tie dinner with people from your college. It's nothing super fancy, it just gives you a nice dining experience and more Harry Potter vibes if you go to a gowned college. It's in a super chilled environment so there's nothing to be wary of. Hopefully, this puts you at ease a little bit but please feel free to raise any more concerns/questions you have and I'll try my best to answer them :smile:

-Himieka


Thanks for the long reply as it is really bothering me to the extent that it’s the only thing stopping be firming durham and going to a different university

I’ve read so many articles about it and would love to hear this 93% clubs take on it to give a balanced view but the negative comments about the class divide massively outweighs any positive comments in seeing about the topic. Bullying itself doesn’t bother me in the slightest as I can handle myself and anyone who tried that probably would wish they hadn’t but that aside, I don’t want to end up with very few friends due to this posh/privilege versus state/working class divide . Example of such resource below

https://www.palatinate.org.uk/working-class-durham-students-speak-out-about-discrimination-in-live-stream-event/
Reply 9
Original post by Lewster1
Thankyou so much for your reply! I think he's currently swaying towards Durham but I have a few concerns. He's state educated and goes to an outstanding sixth form college but I've read numerous comments on a different forum about classism and some students feeling they are elite due to being privately educated. Can I ask if you have any experience of this? We are currently looking at colleges and feel I'd rather put Hill colleges first where the population may be more diverse? Thanks


My son is state school educated and northern, but has not found there is classism at his college Trevelyan. The college has been very welcoming and he says people just don't ask whether you are private or state school educated. When picking colleges we did avoid the bailey colleges thinking they may be more elitist, but may well have just been worried about nothing.
(edited 10 months ago)
Reply 10
Original post by Durham Students
Hi there

I can totally understand your concerns, I don't come from a particularly wealthy background either and was nervous about this as well. I'll be honest with you, you will find posh students at Durham. Many of them are private-schooled and come from London. However, this does not necessarily mean they are all rude and classist. Also there are students who come from other backgrounds as well, like me, you and so many others. But people can be rude irrespective of the background so I don't think we can generalise any particular demographic. I have found so many nice friends from different countries and backgrounds and have personally never faced any form of discrimination at Durham. People I've met have been very open to getting to know me and I have been the same. Irrespective of which uni you go to, you will find these kinds of people and it's up to you whether you want to hangout with them or not.

Ofcourse just because some people have had bad experiences doesn't mean that yours will be the same. Your experience will be what you make of it, so you can simply avoid people that don't fit your personality. Also from what I've seen, positive experiences tend to go mostly unannounced and people unsatisfied with a particular experience are more likely to voice them (understandably so). So even though I can understand that you might've read a number of such things on the internet, I can promise you that Durham is not entirely like that. I and so many other people I know can vouch for that. There is also support available if you face any form of discrimination at university and it's always best to report such behaviour. Each college also has a Working Class Rep and Welfare Rep who you can approach if you face any problems or just need someone to talk to. There is a society called 93% club which offers a platform for you to meet other students from state school backgrounds and share experiences, opinions, concerns and useful social/educational resources.

Also, formals are nothing but a nice black-tie dinner with people from your college. It's nothing super fancy, it just gives you a nice dining experience and more Harry Potter vibes if you go to a gowned college. It's in a super chilled environment so there's nothing to be wary of. Hopefully, this puts you at ease a little bit but please feel free to raise any more concerns/questions you have and I'll try my best to answer them :smile:

-Himieka

Thanks for such a detailed reply, very valid points.
Reply 11
Original post by ajl1972
My son is state school educated and northern, but has not found there is classism at his college Trevelyan. The college has been very welcoming and he says people just don't ask whether tou are private or state school educated. When picking colleges we did avoid the bailey colleges thinking they may be more elitist, but may well have just been worried about nothing.

That's very reassuring to hear, thanks. We're ranking the colleges this evening and I've already said we'll put the Hill colleges first!
Original post by ajl1972
My son is state school educated and northern, but has not found there is classism at his college Trevelyan. The college has been very welcoming and he says people just don't ask whether you are private or state school educated. When picking colleges we did avoid the bailey colleges thinking they may be more elitist, but may well have just been worried about nothing.


Thank you for that . I have been doing research and it does seem hill colleges are the best in order to avoid the “classism” . Can I ask what your son thinks of van mildert college ? I saw a you tube video saying of all the hill colleges it’s the “poshest” and full of people who didn’t get their first choice of castle/hayfield/other Bailey colleges
Original post by Anonymous
Thanks for the long reply as it is really bothering me to the extent that it’s the only thing stopping be firming durham and going to a different university

I’ve read so many articles about it and would love to hear this 93% clubs take on it to give a balanced view but the negative comments about the class divide massively outweighs any positive comments in seeing about the topic. Bullying itself doesn’t bother me in the slightest as I can handle myself and anyone who tried that probably would wish they hadn’t but that aside, I don’t want to end up with very few friends due to this posh/privilege versus state/working class divide . Example of such resource below

https://www.palatinate.org.uk/working-class-durham-students-speak-out-about-discrimination-in-live-stream-event/

I'm sorry you're feeling this way and I do understand your concern, but I hope my experience has put you at ease at least a little bit. What I can definitely tell you is that you will find all types of people at Durham and it's very unlikely that if you try to socialise and make friends, you'll only come across rude people or face discrimination. Plus I think a smaller group of close friends is better than a large group. I can't tell you you'd be able to find a very large group of people who all are very similar to you but you definitely won't be 'friendless' as long as you put in the effort to actually socialise. Go to college and society events, talk to people on your course, and most of all try to get along with your flatmates!

-Himieka
(edited 10 months ago)
Reply 14
Original post by Anonymous
Thank you for that . I have been doing research and it does seem hill colleges are the best in order to avoid the “classism” . Can I ask what your son thinks of van mildert college ? I saw a you tube video saying of all the hill colleges it’s the “poshest” and full of people who didn’t get their first choice of castle/hayfield/other Bailey colleges

I have just asked my son , and doesn't really know much about van mildert other than it has a nice bar and a glass balcony overlooking the dining hall! Sorry can't be of more Help!
Original post by Anonymous
Thanks for the long reply as it is really bothering me to the extent that it’s the only thing stopping be firming durham and going to a different university

I’ve read so many articles about it and would love to hear this 93% clubs take on it to give a balanced view but the negative comments about the class divide massively outweighs any positive comments in seeing about the topic. Bullying itself doesn’t bother me in the slightest as I can handle myself and anyone who tried that probably would wish they hadn’t but that aside, I don’t want to end up with very few friends due to this posh/privilege versus state/working class divide . Example of such resource below

https://www.palatinate.org.uk/working-class-durham-students-speak-out-about-discrimination-in-live-stream-event/

Don't worry, that absolutely won't happen.

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