For most people the image of a university is clear. A big wide open campus with accommodation springing out from all sides and a complete break from the rest of civilisation. The campus lifestyle is well documented and will be the image most people associate with university living. However, more often than not, cities that choose to have a university within them may not have the money or space to construct a full blown campus. This is where the development of urban campuses comes into play.
Urban or city campuses are universities which operate within a town or city. Their buildings and places of learning coincide with local residents going about their daily business. Their places of leisure are fully mixed with the places that locals choose to spend their free time in. It is not inconceivable to see a university building containing lecture theatres and classrooms next door to existing local businesses. This would seem quite an alien experience to those of us who attend traditional universities with a large campus. But I was curious to delve deeper into the experience of those who attend these kinds of institutions.
Heart of the city
Lucky for me, I’m from Portsmouth. The city is simply too small and congested to house a traditional campus university and, as such, operates as an urban campus in the heart of the city. I am also lucky enough to have a very good friend who attended this university for three years. Jay was kind enough to share with me some of his experiences.
When asked what it was like at Portsmouth’s urban campus Jay said, ‘Overall I found it allowed for a lot more freedom. It didn’t feel like I was attending an educational environment that felt restricted like a school. It made me feel so much more like an adult’.
When asked about any disadvantages Jay could only cite one which, ‘was the distance we’d often have to travel for lectures, often we’d have to run to a building on the opposite side of the city centre! However, I feel it added to my feeling of being educated as an adult rather than a student.’
Chatting with Jay almost completely sold me on the idea of urban campus universities. While many of us dream of a big campus university which may even remind us of what we see in films and on TV, this alternative university experience can be really enjoyable.
For those who enjoy seeing more of their local area outside of university, it may even be a preferable option. So, for anyone making a choice about university soon, you should never discount an urban campus uni.