The Student Room Group

Deciding between Durham & Leeds

Ok I’ve been wanting to post on here for a long time now! In 2021, I achieved grades BCC & left university after one term due to caring responsibilities. In 2023 I went back to school (age 21) and took two more a levels. In hindsight i shouldve just took an access course but lol. I do one a level in college (i think i will get a B) & one on online. The online one i have little to no support & learn from external resources (i feel like i wasted my money) & I think i will just pass with a C.

So, Durham offered me an unconditional place for Law with Foundation year. I was genuinely so excited until I saw horror stories about it, actually looked at the city & reached out to current students for their opinions. 4 out of 5 said they regretted it. I understand that I am there for an education and no one should take that away from me but it does not help that I feel small. I’m 22, working class and part of an ethnic minority (also a deprived area from London). I don’t feel shame about my background and despite my circumstances, i’ve still passed my a level subjects and i actually feel content with that (:

Uni of Leeds offered me a place with a contextual offer (if i pass the module) for Middle Eastern Studies and Politics- and I absolutely love the city so so much!! The course modules also are amazing, i’ve looked into each one they’re all very interesting & I’ve already picked out which ones i’d like to do etc🥲 obviously i’d have to do a law conversion course if i wanted to continue with law, and the Kings College London one seems like its good for me.

The other thing that is pulling me to Leeds is the social life. I’m 22- I don’t go clubbing or drink (I never have) and that is a personal decision- I don’t worry too much about my age because I do look younger than I am. But despite this, I like going out and i am used to living in a big city and i love it. Durham does not attract me in this way.

My main question is, for anyone who cares- Do i sacrifice prestige for better housing, social life & a course i am more interested in?
Well this seems like a no brainer to me! I think you should go to Leeds for all the reasons you give. I don't think the prestige is as important as a course you are more interested in!
Reply 2
Original post by totallyfine
Well this seems like a no brainer to me! I think you should go to Leeds for all the reasons you give. I don't think the prestige is as important as a course you are more interested in!

This is what I’ve been telling myself but my family & peers have put this pressure on me for going for the prestige and better course. I understand and know I am privileged enough to go to university- even though im 22 now aha- so i know what my parents mean when they say i shouldn’t let this opportunity pass but i just can’t find that reason enough. I don’t want to rush into it and be unhappy for the next 3-4 years. I still need BC for leeds and that’s if i pass Access to Leeds😄 hopefully I will & thank you- i don’t want to feel like I’m ‘crazy’ for passing up Durham.
I get why they are saying that. Its such an achievement to get an offer and they are very proud of that. But in the end this is your course and your uni experience. You need to choose the one you would be happier at. It is not as though Leeds is a terrible University, it has a prestige of its own!
Did you realise that many, many students are never part of the clubbing/getting drunk culture - at every University - and that there will be many 21+ students who will totally identify with this attitude? Sounds like Leeds has the course you really want to do - and its important that you enjoy what you are studying - and frankly, Leeds has a solid academic reputation and in many ways is a more interesting Uni to study at than Durham. Go to Leeds - and enjoy it all.
Reply 5
Original post by McGinger
Did you realise that many, many students are never part of the clubbing/getting drunk culture - at every University - and that there will be many 21+ students who will totally identify with this attitude? Sounds like Leeds has the course you really want to do - and its important that you enjoy what you are studying - and frankly, Leeds has a solid academic reputation and in many ways is a more interesting Uni to study at than Durham. Go to Leeds - and enjoy it all.


Thank you so much, this is the reassurance i needed. Yes i completely get what you’re saying- there is just a big drinking culture in Durham & I think in general it would be easier to be sober in Leeds. I know I’d find likeminded people in any uni but Leeds just sounds perfect to me- days out & studying in the facilities. Like a mini Manchester (ish) & a good uni (:
Reply 6
Original post by totallyfine
I get why they are saying that. Its such an achievement to get an offer and they are very proud of that. But in the end this is your course and your uni experience. You need to choose the one you would be happier at. It is not as though Leeds is a terrible University, it has a prestige of its own!


Exactly, this is the way I’ve been thinking too. I’m old enough to at least understand what I want- acting on it is another thing but still😭 I want to make a decision that is right for me- whether that is waiting a year or going to uni. I just don’t want to wake up at 30 and wonder what on earth i’ve done to end up in a job i don’t enjoy. I know there’s no guarantee for anyone but i just want to be sure. It’s 9k+ a year! Big investment haha
Original post by Sunrise36
Ok I’ve been wanting to post on here for a long time now! In 2021, I achieved grades BCC & left university after one term due to caring responsibilities. In 2023 I went back to school (age 21) and took two more a levels. In hindsight i shouldve just took an access course but lol. I do one a level in college (i think i will get a B) & one on online. The online one i have little to no support & learn from external resources (i feel like i wasted my money) & I think i will just pass with a C.
So, Durham offered me an unconditional place for Law with Foundation year. I was genuinely so excited until I saw horror stories about it, actually looked at the city & reached out to current students for their opinions. 4 out of 5 said they regretted it. I understand that I am there for an education and no one should take that away from me but it does not help that I feel small. I’m 22, working class and part of an ethnic minority (also a deprived area from London). I don’t feel shame about my background and despite my circumstances, i’ve still passed my a level subjects and i actually feel content with that (:
Uni of Leeds offered me a place with a contextual offer (if i pass the module) for Middle Eastern Studies and Politics- and I absolutely love the city so so much!! The course modules also are amazing, i’ve looked into each one they’re all very interesting & I’ve already picked out which ones i’d like to do etc🥲 obviously i’d have to do a law conversion course if i wanted to continue with law, and the Kings College London one seems like its good for me.
The other thing that is pulling me to Leeds is the social life. I’m 22- I don’t go clubbing or drink (I never have) and that is a personal decision- I don’t worry too much about my age because I do look younger than I am. But despite this, I like going out and i am used to living in a big city and i love it. Durham does not attract me in this way.
My main question is, for anyone who cares- Do i sacrifice prestige for better housing, social life & a course i am more interested in?

Hi there

Firstly, congratulations on securing two offers at both great universities!

From what I understand, you're pretty much set on going to Leeds which is completely fair as you like the city and the course too. I understand not wanting to come to Durham because of the concerns I think almost everyone has when researching Durham. Even though the students you talked to may have regretted coming here, that won't necessarily be the POV of the other 23000 students at Durham. There are people from various backgrounds at Durham- I'm from a minority ethnic and lower socio-economic background too, so I doubt you'll ever feel out of place here. Not all students drink here either, in fact many don't. This blog shows exactly what I'm talking about.

Still, Durham isn't perfect, but I don't think any university is really. Leeds may very well be the university for you, and I'm glad you've figured that out for yourself without letting anybody influence your decision. I'd say don't let your parents make you go to Durham if you think you'll fit in better at Leeds. It's a great city indeed (I wish I had the time to explore it more!). Durham may have that 'prestige' but honestly nobody is going to offer any Durham student a job just because they went to Durham. An employer would rather pick someone who has better skills for the job than judging a candidate based on their institution. So I think you can develop such skills at Leeds just as much.

All I'd say is that if you do go to Leeds, try to visit Durham once or twice as it's a beautiful city for a day trip :wink:

Good luck!

-Himieka
(edited 1 month ago)
Original post by Durham Students
Hi there
Firstly, congratulations on securing two offers at both great universities!
From what I understand, you're pretty much set on going to Leeds which is completely fair as you like the city and the course too. I understand not wanting to come to Durham because of the concerns I think almost everyone has when researching Durham. Even though the students you talked to may have regretted coming here, that won't necessarily be the POV of the other 23000 students at Durham. There are people from various backgrounds at Durham- I'm from a minority ethnic and lower socio-economic background too, so I doubt you'll ever feel out of place here. Not all students drink here either, in fact many don't. This blog shows exactly what I'm talking about.
Still, Durham isn't perfect, but I don't think any university is really. Leeds may very well be the university for you, and I'm glad you've figured that out for yourself without letting anybody influence your decision. I'd say don't let your parents make you go to Durham if you think you'll fit in better at Leeds. It's a great city indeed (I wish I had the time to explore it more!). Durham may have that 'prestige' but honestly nobody is going to offer any Durham student a job just because they went to Durham. An employer would rather pick someone who has better skills for the job than judging a candidate based on their institution. So I think you can develop such skills at Leeds just as much.
All I'd say is that id you do to Leeds, try to visit Durham once or twice as it's a beautiful city for a day trip :wink:
Good luck!
-Himieka

Himieka, that is such a fair, balanced and wise response
(you are a credit to your own university)
Original post by MedMama
Himieka, that is such a fair, balanced and wise response
(you are a credit to your own university)

Aw that's very sweet of you to say, I really appreciate it 😊

-Himieka
Original post by Sunrise36
Ok I’ve been wanting to post on here for a long time now! In 2021, I achieved grades BCC & left university after one term due to caring responsibilities. In 2023 I went back to school (age 21) and took two more a levels. In hindsight i shouldve just took an access course but lol. I do one a level in college (i think i will get a B) & one on online. The online one i have little to no support & learn from external resources (i feel like i wasted my money) & I think i will just pass with a C.
So, Durham offered me an unconditional place for Law with Foundation year. I was genuinely so excited until I saw horror stories about it, actually looked at the city & reached out to current students for their opinions. 4 out of 5 said they regretted it. I understand that I am there for an education and no one should take that away from me but it does not help that I feel small. I’m 22, working class and part of an ethnic minority (also a deprived area from London). I don’t feel shame about my background and despite my circumstances, i’ve still passed my a level subjects and i actually feel content with that (:
Uni of Leeds offered me a place with a contextual offer (if i pass the module) for Middle Eastern Studies and Politics- and I absolutely love the city so so much!! The course modules also are amazing, i’ve looked into each one they’re all very interesting & I’ve already picked out which ones i’d like to do etc🥲 obviously i’d have to do a law conversion course if i wanted to continue with law, and the Kings College London one seems like its good for me.
The other thing that is pulling me to Leeds is the social life. I’m 22- I don’t go clubbing or drink (I never have) and that is a personal decision- I don’t worry too much about my age because I do look younger than I am. But despite this, I like going out and i am used to living in a big city and i love it. Durham does not attract me in this way.
My main question is, for anyone who cares- Do i sacrifice prestige for better housing, social life & a course i am more interested in?

Leeds is a good university and I think you'll enjoy it there. If you enjoy the course you'll get a better degree!

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