Realistic Review of Reading University Interested in what life is really like at the University of Reading? Look no further! Below is a detailed review of everything you need to know (a realistic version!) about the university. Any other things to add? Let us know by replying to this thread!
HISTORY The University of Reading has its roots as an Oxford university extension college of Arts and Science founded in 1892. By 1926, Reading received its royal charter, making it the only University established between the two World Wars! The age of the university is reflected in some of the architecture of the more prestigious buildings, most notably Wantage Hall. To celebrate its centenary the University is undergoing its Transform 2026 initiative, a campaign to reinvest over £200 million into campus facilities. completed renovations include refurbishments of key areas such as the library, key lecture theatres, and the 3sixty nightclub/sports space. Reading is particularly well known on an international level for its meteorology, agricultural, law and psychology courses, as well as Henley Business School. As a result, competition for places rises from year to year attracting high quality students from all corners of the globe.
The University of Reading is among the top 30 UK universities in world rankings (ranked 27th out of 90 UK universities featured in the QS World University Rankings 2022) and is home to 23,000 students from over 160 countries. The University is now a five-time winner of the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher Education, winning in 1998, 2006, 2009, 2012 and 2022, and has also won 11 consecutive Green Flag awards, a reflection of its environmental commitments.
CAMPUSES Currently here at Reading, there are 3 UK campuses: Whiteknights (our main campus), London Road (our original campus) and Greenlands (Henley Business School campus). Each are unique and offer so many great qualities individually, but the common factor among the three, is that they are each situated amongst beautiful green scenery. Whiteknights and London Road are situated more towards the centre of Reading, with a mixture of stunning architectural buildings and more modern designs surrounded by gorgeous greenery, whereas Greenlands is slightly further out, located just outside the stunning Henley-on-Thames with the Thames river running along the outskirts. Greenlands is primarily a campus for business students (home to majority of our Henley Business School which has an international presence!), whilst the others are home to a wide range of courses and facilities (such as a brand-new, 24/6 library; shops; bars and more).
That’s it? Not quite! The University of Reading also has a campus in Malaysia, which was shortlisted for a World Architecture Festival award in 2013 for its incredible design. This campus is designed to try and give international students the same teaching as the UK, to offer a “world-class degree” at an “affordable price” in a place that is convenient for them, which is why it is located in one of Malaysia’s fastest growing cities, Johor Bahru. Students will also have the opportunity to study in the UK as part of their experience here.
ACCOMMODATION At Reading, there’s also a wide range of accommodation choices to choose from so you can be sure to find something that suits your preferences. There’s a great guarantee whereby Reading offers a hall place to all 1st year students who apply by the specified deadline (which will vary depending on the year). There are 4892 rooms on or close to campus on offer, and all are within a 15 minute walk of the nearest campus (if not onsite) which is great when you don’t want to get up extra early before a 9am lecture. There are a variety of halls to choose from with factors such as: -Ensuite / shared bathrooms -Catered / self-catered -Single sex / mixed -Location on or off campus -Price range -Quiet living And so on. There’s also 24/7 security through the Halls Hotline, which means any issues can be sorted instantly, as well as there being over 150 free events provided to halls residents so there’s always something to do. Halls situated in the centre of campus such as Greenow and McCombie, Stenton, McKinder and so on, tend to be more lively as they are near Park Bar, whereas the quieter halls tend to be on the outskirts of campus such as Benyon and St Georges.
SPORTS CLUBS AND FACILITIES The SportsPark gym and RUSU work together alongside sports societies themselves to provide a wide range of both friendly sport sessions and competitions for students. At several points during the year most clubs run drop-in try-out sessions: training sessions for students to try out a brand-new sport, with absolutely no cost nor commitment. Best advice would be to try and attend as many of these different sessions as you’d like – it’s a great way to meet new people if anything! There are over 50 sports societies at Reading, ranging from popular varsity sports such as football, rugby, hockey and netball; to a variety of martial arts, as well as a number of more unusual sports including korfball, ultimate Frisbee and scuba diving. Reading’s boat club is also renowned for making use of fabulous water-sports facilities along the River Thames. As part of the British Universities and College Sports (BUCS) the University enters a number of competitions to allow you to compete against other institutions, and Varsity is held annually against its rivals Oxford Brookes. However, the university is lacking in a swimming pool, instead using the Palmer Park swimming facilities nearby. THE SPORTSPARK The University of Reading’s on site gym SportsPark offers excellent sports facilities including: • 100 station VO2 fitness studio • Large sports hall • Two specialist dance studios • Four squash courts (inc. two glass back courts) • Three 3G floodlit five-a-side football pitches • Full size floodlit synthetic turf pitch • Five floodlit tennis courts • Four floodlit netball courts • Grass pitches and floodlit grass training areas • County standard cricket square, artificial wicket and indoor nets • Sports therapy room • Eat Café
EMPLOYMENT AND WORK EXPERIENCE Reading University surely offers an excellent range of jobs and work experience opportunities. Most courses have the option of a placement or study abroad year, helping students gain hands-on experience and an edge over other graduates in post-graduate employment markets. As a student at the university, you would have access to a platform called MyJobsOnline, where the University and local companies post part-time job vacancies that students can easily apply to. The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (UROP) scheme gives students opportunities to support real research projects alongside academic researchers at the university, opening them up to professional mentorship as well. Similarly, the THRIVE mentor scheme enables students to work with an external professional in a field or sector related to the individual’s career interests, encouraging networking and mentoring across the university.
Within the university, students can also work within Campus Jobs, the university-run employment agency that offers flexible roles such as Student Ambassadors, Digital Ambassadors, roles within the HR and Media teams, bars and catering, as well as work within specific schools and departments that tends to be more admin-based. These roles are often paid at above minimum wage to encourage student participation, and are supplemented with frequent training and development opportunities. Furthermore, the student union, RUSU, employs a number of students in its bars, shopping mall, and merchandise store, alongside short-term opportunities such as working in the welcome teams upon student move-ins at the beginning of the academic year. These roles tend to be paid at minimum wage, likely due to the fact that RUSU is a self-sustaining charity organisation. As both organisations are based within the University, they recognise the importance of study, and so are flexible around schedules, and place a 35hr cap on the amount of hours you can work in a week for home students, and 20hrs for international students.
The local area also offers a number of different employment opportunities that many students opt for, but are at the disadvantage of being in the central town, which is a 15min bus ride from central campus – however these may work better for 2nd, 3rd or 4th year students who are living off-campus.
LOCAL AREA: The main Whiteknights campus is situated approximately a 30-minute walk or 10–15-minute bus to the town centre, with its own dedicated bus route passing through the university taking you either directly to Reading Station or the local ASDA. It has a number of amenities based slightly off campus including accommodations, shops, hair dressers, post offices, IT repair shops, estate agents, and a number of other things. Reading town centre has undergone rapid development over the last 20 years due to the town’s close proximity to England's "silicon valley", and boasts the Oracle shopping centre, whilst acting as an IT and commercial centre. Reading’s train station is central to the town, and provides transport links to both Northern and Southern England easily, the new Elizabeth line shortening the previous 30 minutes travel time to London to 20 minutes. Looking at other aspects of the surrounding area, both the university and the town are situated in some of the most scenic country in England, Reading is also located next to some beautiful rivers which are idyllic places to relax during the spring and summer months.
SOCIAL LIFE Social life in Reading can be whatever you’d like it to be. It is the type of place that can work for whatever lifestyle you want to live. If you want a more lively lifestyle, the town is just a 15-20 minute bus ride from Whiteknights campus where there is bars and restaurants, and we’re only a 25 minute train ride from London for the hustle and bustle side if you are looking for it! That means there’s also great access to the theatres and everything else that London has to offer. That being said, there’s also bars on campus and the union host a number of different nights to suit every taste.
For the quieter lifestyles, Reading is a relatively calm place that doesn’t have too many clubs etc which makes it easier to still find things to do without feeling like you’re missing out on the nightlife. There’s a cinema in the centre of town, although finding a bowling alley may mean you have to go a little further afield, and plenty of beautiful walks across the river Thames and the River Kennet. The university also has over 100 societies and sports clubs which means finding like-minded people to socialise with whilst also doing the things you love is super easy! There’s societies for every faith, sport, hobby and interest, and if there’s one missing that you want to be involved in, you can create it. I’d definitely suggest getting involved in the societies that interest you to keep busy and make friends; most societies will hold regular socials too!
GENERAL FACTS AND STATISTICS The University of Reading has currently over 25,000 students from 160 different countries
98% of its research is rated to be recognised internationally (REF 2021)
The University is composed of 130 hectares of parkland, and is committed to its ambition of being the ‘greenest university in the UK’ with 11 consecutive green flag awards and aim to be carbon neutral by 2030
94% of graduates are in work or further study within 15 months of graduation.
It boasts over 150 years of history and is ranked in the Top 30 UK Institutions by Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2022
Home to one of the largest Food Science departments in the country, with its own industry-grade Food Pilot plant.
Home to over 4000 species of flora and fauna
Multitude of personal, academic and financial support services offered to students
Transform 2026 student-oriented initiative to create accessible, purpose-built student spaces
24/6 library with over 1.2 million books on-site, over 4 million online
Flexible learning methods as well as teaching and studying spaces
On-site security team
Diverse student body that presents an amazing sense of community
Vibrant and active campus and Student Union
Impressive focus on sustainability and employability in ethos and practice - both academically and culturally
Over 150 different clubs and societies students can join
Great transport links to London and the rest of the country
Accessible and supportive local area with everything you could really need, walking distance from town
24hr Home At Halls app to make maintenance issues in halls really easily manageable
In terms of nightlife, there are only 5/6 clubs in Reading which may pose a problem for large city loving students, though London is only 20 minutes away and there are a number of different bars, pubs and restaurants
Some buildings are looking a little outdated and in need of some love.
Overall Overall, Reading is a great university to be a part of, where everything is welcoming and homely for the most part. It’s a relatively small university in comparison to some of the larger city universities, however, it’s campuses are beautiful and feel safe which makes it an enjoyable place to live and study. All in all, Reading is a great university and town to be a student in and has the added advantage of being extremely close to London. If you both work and play hard, an undergraduate will not only have a great time here but will also have one of the best possible chances of finding a good job with job prospect scores being among the highest in the UK, Got anything to add? Let us know your reviews below!
Great question! So, at Reading, diversity and inclusion is hugely important. The general sentiment from the university is that we have "a proud history of diversity and inclusion but we know there is always more that can be done. We want to be the place where every student fulfils their full potential."
To learn more about our commitment to diversity, you can read about our equality targets for staff and students and our charter marks and awards here.
We also have inclusion consultants too who are students that work with university of Reading staff to create a more inclusive place here at Reading - which is great, as they are students themselves so know the difficulties surrounding this issue from a student perspective.
Speaking of which, from a student perspective though, I can say that, although I'm not directly involved in any diversity work and may not necessarily be influenced by it, I feel as though the university overall takes pride in working to be as diverse and inclusive as possible, and as welcomed students of all backgrounds, beliefs, and so on, very warmly. I have a lot of friends who would be considered international students for example, speaking different languages and having different cultural differences etc, and they have found Reading to be very accessible and welcoming. I've also seen a lot of work being done for other groups such as LGBTQ+ and so on, and it is evident that the general morality is that no one should be left feeling inadequate, excluded or unwelcome for any reason here, which I think is so important!
If you have any questions at all about this, please do ask and we will do our best to answer, but I hope this is somewhat helpful!
Skye 3rd Year Speech and Language Therapy Student & Student Ambassador