Forget what you think you know: the north has loads to offer Clearing and direct applicants alike
Ah, the north. Full of gruff types muttering about winter and whether or not it's coming, right? Not so. It's a diverse, welcoming and exciting place to have a student experience, whether you're a southern soul or already a northerner. Here's why it's worth a look.
The nice people
When you're taking what may very well be your first solo steps away from home, you want to find yourself surrounded by friendly people. Happily, that's something that the north has always specialised in.
“I came to university not knowing anyone, but because northerners are so friendly it definitely didn't take long to make friends,” says Natalie Wood, a final year business student at Teesside University who arrived through Clearing. “I started not knowing anyone and I'm leaving with friends for life.”
George Harrison, a journalism graduate from Middlesbrough, agrees. He's a northerner himself and says they're just made that way. “The northern identity is a strong one, which local folk are very proud to hold. Friendliness is just part of our character.”
A support network
Linked to that general sense of friendliness is the support that students can expect. The jump from home and school to independence and uni can feel mighty, so it's good to know that there's some kind of safety net for general worries; and even more so for more serious issues.
For George, that help was essential when a course mate tragically passed away during his studies. “The support was fantastic. Once we came back to uni, they scheduled a group of us for counselling sessions and extended time for deadlines.”
Support can come in other forms, too, like helping you start your career. Natalie got some work opportunities through uni, and more besides, she says. “Career services supported me and taught me how to write a CV and cover letter and prepared me for interviews.”
Town and city centre life
Not all northern living is like Geordie Shore in the evenings (although you should definitely bring your party shoes to Newcastle, and leave your coat at home), but with many northern unis based in or near town centres, all the good things are on the doorstep.
That means all the pubs and clubs, yes, but also the things to feed mind, body and soul, from cultural sights to museums and coffee shops. “Everything in Middlesbrough is in walking distance,” says Natalie. “It makes your university experience a sociable and memorable one.”
Setting up your study nest in York Minster or slinging a hammock underneath the Angel of the North is lightly frowned upon, so you'll need somewhere to stay. Happily, accommodation costs – likely to be the heaviest hitter when it comes to your uni expenses – tend to be lower up north.
That's certainly been George's experience. “Teesside is widely reported to have one of the cheapest costs of living in the UK, with rent and bills costing as little as £50 a week, in some cases,” he says.
It's always hard to predict uni costs, but the Which? University student budget calculator definitely puts Teesside at the lower end. Projected monthly costs are £699 for Teesside, compared to £737 at Warwick, £830 at Essex and £940 at UCL.
The actual North
The North is one of the most beautiful and head-spinning places – not just in this country, but any country. There's a reason people haul themselves across the world to look at the moors, the Dales, the seaside towns, the valleys and the hills.
Your options include cities like Durham, Newcastle, Middlesbrough, Leeds and York, or historic cobbled market towns like Richmond. “The options for lovely trips out to the seaside are vast,” adds George, “like going for a lemon top ice cream at Redcar or award-winning fish and chips at Whitby.”
Natalie points out that there are active options for all, from surfing to striding the hills. “As it's such a diverse region you can never get bored, and it is really good having a break from university work and exploring the area to recharge your batteries!”
Something a little different
It might be the fact that you can eat a Yorkshire pudding wrap in York, be smiled at by strangers in Newcastle (in a good way) or have some of the greatest live music experiences of your life in the dingy shadows of Leeds' cherished Brudenell Social Club, but for whatever reason, there's something unique about the north that beguiles the people who land there.
Natalie's advice? Go find out for yourself. “If you have the option to head north don't rule it out. Get out of your comfort zone and come and explore the north, you will not be disappointed! It's a friendly, cheap and fun place to be that's perfect for everyone.”
For more information about studying at Teesside University, head to their website.