feeza sikandar
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I have received offers from Birmingham and Durham university for studying natural sciences( Physics major, Biology minor ) with foundation year undergraduate degree .I can't decide to select which one . Can anybody please help me ?
If I look at the uni ranking, Durham is a far better choice due to its global reputation. However, I am slighltly afraid about the rumors that sexism and classism exists there. I am a Muslim girl from a working class background. The thought that I might face a hard circumstances there makes me worried.
However, I believe that the road to success is never easy . So I can tolerate any kind of adverse circumstances for the sake of good quality education . So my first fear is ruled out.
The thing which makes me really worried is the contact hours . I have heard that in Durham the main emphasis is on self -study. The lectures are not like a full meal but just ingredients. Students have to make their own recipe.I have been a student who always seeks teacher's help in order to clear any confusion and to understand the lectures in a better way.So does this apprehension makes uni of Birmingham a better choice than Durham or the situation in UoB is also alike ?

Talking about the location, I personally prefer Birmingham city to Durham because I like to live in a big city and the idea that Birmingham is the Venice of UK makes it more attractive.HOWEVER, I can't decide the university based on its locality .The first and foremost factor in determining this is the quality of education and research.

p.s I am really sorry for the length :l
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Anonymous #1
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I did my Undergrad at Durham and I won't lie, the classism and sexism DOES exist but it depends entirely on your social circles. I personally didn't experience any of it (I'm from a Hill college, whereas the 'posher' colleges are the ones on the Bailey- like Castle and Hatfield) but I know of some that did. I can say that I LOVED it there, and those I know who did Natural Sciences had a lot of contact hours (lectures, labs) but I have no idea how much is self-taught. Durham is very small (and the house prices can get expensive), so if you're a city girl it may take some getting used to, but it's also a beautiful place. Sorry that this reply isn't very helpful lol, wanted to be honest about the sexism and classism stuff but also say that it's highly dependant on your surroundings if that makes sense
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feeza sikandar
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Your response is indeed very helpful.I really appreciate your honest review.
I completely agree with you that it depends on someone's personal experience and I will not definitely decline the offer just based on the evidence of classism.I think I'm gonna regret it later on if I reject the offer from such a prestigious institute.
So if the students get enough support from the teachers , would you recommend me to prefer Durham over Birmingham ?
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Anonymous #1
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It's a tricky one because everyone has such different experiences and Birmingham is also a great uni, but I'd personally choose Durham based on its prestige (I'm also biased lmao). There are other things to factor in, like whether you'd prefer the College System- which I personally loved but others think that it makes it harder to mix outside of college. But then you can always do stuff like sports of societies which lets you meet tons of people, and due to Durham's size you always know someone who knows someone.
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random_matt
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None of that stuff exists, and Durham is cheap as hell, they even have an accommodation bursary.
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feeza sikandar
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(Original post by Anonymous)
It's a tricky one because everyone has such different experiences and Birmingham is also a great uni, but I'd personally choose Durham based on its prestige (I'm also biased lmao). There are other things to factor in, like whether you'd prefer the College System- which I personally loved but others think that it makes it harder to mix outside of college. But then you can always do stuff like sports of societies which lets you meet tons of people, and due to Durham's size you always know someone who knows someone.
Same here.Prestige can not be ignored easily.
BTW if you don't mind, can I know which subjects you are studying there ?I'm just asking it so that I can get help related to my subjects.
Moreover , I would like to get your help in choosing the college . I don't know anything about the colleges. I like to study in a friendly and open environment where people of different back grounds can mix with each other.
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feeza sikandar
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(Original post by random_matt)
None of that stuff exists, and Durham is cheap as hell, they even have an accommodation bursary.
Seriously ? I have heard otherwise.BTW I'm from Italy so I don't know much about the institiutions there.Will you please tell me which colleges are relatively less expensive ?
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random_matt
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(Original post by feeza sikandar)
Seriously ? I have heard otherwise.BTW I'm from Italy so I don't know much about the institiutions there.Will you please tell me which colleges are relatively less expensive ?
It is the North of England, cheaper than the South, always has been.
https://www.dur.ac.uk/experience/colleges/costs/

As I said, there is a bursary. https://www.dur.ac.uk/study/ug/finance/uk/bursaries/ You will have to ask if it is the same again this year.
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RhynieChert
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both Birmingham and Durham have excellent physics departments and a degree from either will be well respected, while Durham is more prestigious it's not so much so that you should ignore that you prefer Birmingham as a city and it's atmosphere. Durham does have a reputation for classism, racism and sexism which is reflected in the demographics of the students there. if you want to be around students who are more like you and in a city that is more vibrant and reflects diversity then honestly I would choose Birmingham, it's much better to feel happy and comfortable for three years going to a slightly less prestigious (but still a good Russel group uni with strengths in physics) than be miserable somewhere that doesn't fit you
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Anonymous #1
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(Original post by feeza sikandar)
Same here.Prestige can not be ignored easily.
BTW if you don't mind, can I know which subjects you are studying there ?I'm just asking it so that I can get help related to my subjects.
Moreover , I would like to get your help in choosing the college . I don't know anything about the colleges. I like to study in a friendly and open environment where people of different back grounds can mix with each other.
I studied archaeology so unfortunately I can't help you there lol. With colleges I guess it depends on what you want in a college. I know there are some new ones/some changes going on with the current ones so I'd check up on them if I were you ( https://www.dur.ac.uk/experience/colleges/ourcolleges/ ) -> that link will help you with seeing the size of the colleges/ which ones are ensuite/catered/shared rooms so you can choose fitting with your needs. I chose butler because it is ensuite and self catering (and I loved it), but it's one of the furthest colleges away from the town centre (a 25ish/30 min walk, but there's a very cheap bus and is just 15mins from the science site/uni library- https://www.dur.ac.uk/experience/colleges/map/ this will show you where the colleges are, but as I said Durham is so small that you're never too far away). Like I said, the colleges on the Bailey (esp. Hatfield and Castle) are generally posher but even if you went there you'd find likeminded people. Whereas the 'Hill' colleges (Grey, Collingwood, Butler, Van Mildert, Trevs etc.) are considered a bit more chill.
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Personally, I'd pick Durham.
Your choice of degree is quite general in nature, well that is to say that it isn't vocational, so you will benefit even more so from the prestige of Durham when scoping out opportunities as a graduate who doesn't necessarily have a clear next stepping stone. But there are a lot of different factors to take into account of course.
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feeza sikandar
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(Original post by Anonymous)
I studied archaeology so unfortunately I can't help you there lol. With colleges I guess it depends on what you want in a college. I know there are some new ones/some changes going on with the current ones so I'd check up on them if I were you ( https://www.dur.ac.uk/experience/colleges/ourcolleges/ ) -> that link will help you with seeing the size of the colleges/ which ones are ensuite/catered/shared rooms so you can choose fitting with your needs. I chose butler because it is ensuite and self catering (and I loved it), but it's one of the furthest colleges away from the town centre (a 25ish/30 min walk, but there's a very cheap bus and is just 15mins from the science site/uni library- https://www.dur.ac.uk/experience/colleges/map/ this will show you where the colleges are, but as I said Durham is so small that you're never too far away). Like I said, the colleges on the Bailey (esp. Hatfield and Castle) are generally posher but even if you went there you'd find likeminded people. Whereas the 'Hill' colleges (Grey, Collingwood, Butler, Van Mildert, Trevs etc.) are considered a bit more chill.
Thank you so very much for providing me all this information. I'm really sorry for replying so late, actually I was very busy in the last few days .
I did not specify any college in my application form .Now I have received a place from Van Mildert. But I don't like its building at all.I hope to change it soon.Is it possible to change the college allocations ?
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Anonymous #2
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Birmingham has a large asian / Muslim community , should make you more comfortable. Are you american ?
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feeza sikandar
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Birmingham has a large asian / Muslim community , should make you more comfortable. Are you american ?
nope. I'm mixed. Asian and Italian
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random_matt
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(Original post by feeza sikandar)
Thank you so very much for providing me all this information. I'm really sorry for replying so late, actually I was very busy in the last few days .
I did not specify any college in my application form .Now I have received a place from Van Mildert. But I don't like its building at all.I hope to change it soon.Is it possible to change the college allocations ?
Nope, unless it is has anything to do with medical or any other serious matter.
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feeza sikandar
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Thank you for advising me . I would also have picked Durham if there had been no concern about the modules being taught. Actually I have to study neuroscience as well ( because Biology is my minor subject ) but there are no modules related to neurobiology on the website.This made me worried and because of this I feel more inclined towards Birmingham.
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feeza sikandar
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Nope, unless it is has anything to do with medical or any other serious matter.
Oh ! Does it mean I have to spend the next 4 years of my life in that place ?
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random_matt
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(Original post by feeza sikandar)
Oh ! Does it mean I have to spend the next 4 years of my life in that place ?
They only cover first year, most students 2nd year onwards find their own places.
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feeza sikandar
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yeah, that's right.Anyhow, I'll be taking classes at the same place .
BTW what's your personal opinion about this college ? ( If you have any )
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Anonymous #3
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Hi - just to say that my daughter has just finished her first year at Durham and was allocated to Van Mildert. She’s also international and really liked it it there. It seems Van Mildert has a larger proportion of international students than some other colleges and she made friends very easily. She seemed to have a particularly nice group in her corridor which was just good luck and certainly helped.
She’s also lived almost all of her life in a (very) big city but had no problem with the “smallness”’of Durham. I think that with all the student societies, there is more than enough to keep you busy.

Overall, she enjoyed her first year hugely, both socially and academically (although she’s in a very different field from you.)
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