Imperial University London

(31 Posts)
kriskar Tue 19-Feb-13 09:42:17

Has anyone any knowledge of what it is like to attend Imperial as an undergraduate? My daughter is considering biochemistry at Imperial. Any recommendations as to accommodation etc?

senua Tue 19-Feb-13 10:13:28

Isn't it amazing what you find out when you google. I didn't realise that Imperial had split from London and is now a stand-alone entity. (Or did I know, but had forgotten?)
The wiki entry says that it only does STEM subjects so presumably there is no chance of crossovers to non-science modules, no flat-shares with philosopers, etc. It all sounds a bit intense, especially knowing how competitive it is to get in to ICL.

I wouldn't recommend London for University life, there are better cities out there. It might be great city if you are earning and like tourists and concrete. But it's not much fun if you are penniless and looking for a normal student life.

boomting Tue 19-Feb-13 10:16:42

If she has a place, then it's a fantastic opportunity. Imperial is one of the best universities worldwide for science and engineering subjects.

As to what it's like to attend Imperial, living in London is relatively expensive and students tend to be more scattered, lacking that 'student village' feel that other places can have (e.g. Fallowfield in Manchester, Headingly in Leeds, Jesmond in Newcastle).

With regards to specific info on halls, this is a good forum for her to have a look at / ask questions on (note the accommodation post at the top!) www.thestudentroom.co.uk/forumdisplay.php?f=18

Lonecatwithkitten Tue 19-Feb-13 12:16:15

Attending Imperial 20 years ago was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I am a dual graduate of Imperial and a much smaller college that is still part of the University of London. Imperial has amazing facilities both academically and extra-curricular. Early 90s entering a computer room with nearly 100 sun computers in it all connected to the infantile world wide web. Lovely swimming pool right in the centre of South Ken. It is also one of the first stops for many 'milk round' companies and Imperial Graduates have some of the highest starting and long term salaries of any UK graduates. Three of my friends are Directors/Vice- Presidents of world banks and several others have very influential jobs. We had several crappy flats in great locations like SW1 and SW7.
Yes living in London is expensive however, it was worth every extra penny. Just walking thorough the capital in the evenings and weekends with my friends. Take advantage of all the deals for students Opera tickets etc. Visit the museums, ride the transport system.
Then all the events I just happened to be there for - I was walking up St Martin's Lane one evening about 10.30pm and there was a group of people outside the ENO on asking them what was going on they said Princess Di was there so we waited and saw her walking out in the long sheath white dress with sequins the icon picture that is used so often now. I saw the VE day 60th anniversary on the Thames Path. I would not have missed my time in London for the world and I am a girl from a farm in the middle nowhere.
I would recommend London for Uni and particularly Imperial to anyone. When visiting South Ken with my DD last November at only 9 she turned to me and said my Mummy I have been thinking about where I am going to go to Uni and I think I am going to come here (points at Imperial) and study Maths. As I pointed out to her there is a long way to go, but if she still feel like that in 8 years time there are a lot worse choices you could make. If she still feels like that I will make every sacrifice in my power to make it possible for her.

Copthallresident Tue 19-Feb-13 16:21:29

DD is studying Science at a London uni and would entirely disagree with senua about student life in London. She feels her student life is much richer for being in London, and certainly more multicultural as well. There are plenty of student discounts, cheap student nights and activities overseen by ULU as a whole as well as the individual institutions. You won't get quite so much of a rah scene, they seem to gravitate to the big city unis and Exeter, but for her that is a plus, lots of diversity. They have so much more opportunity in terms of culture etc. Having visited friends at the other city universities and university towns she feels she would have found them boring, homogenous and stifling. Probably not but it shows it does not pay to generalise.

Also rich in terms of her subject, she has been involved in all sorts of extra activities connected with the museums, Science Association , Wellcome etc that are in the Capital.

The Institutions do mix and DD has some Imperial friends but because of where Imperial is they tend to mix most with the Music and Drama Schools nearby, not exactly a narrow Science focus wink.

Accommodation is obviously more expensive but on the plus side it is readily available when you need it so you don't get this ridiculous convention of having to select your housemates and house for the following year in Oct / Nov the year before when there is every chance that by the time you move into the house you will have fallen out, especially as in the first year you hardly know them!. She and her flatmates have enjoyed exploring each new part of the city they have lived in, and actually each uni does end up with it's own enclaves.

Copthallresident Tue 19-Feb-13 16:27:57

I would also add that her flat is a magnet for friends from other unis who by Year 3 are desperate for a change of scene at weekends and through the holidays!

And that Scientists do have to work very hard, third only to Medicine and architecture in her institution which is quite hard when sharing flats with those Philosophers, Historians and English students who can lie around watching Countdown between essay crises wink

malinois Tue 19-Feb-13 16:42:05

One of the best universities in the world and an opportunity to live in one of the greatest cities in the world. I entirely disagree with senua - London is a fantastic place to be a student. Schoolfriends who had gone to Oxford or Cambridge always seemed very keen to come down to London for the weekend!

IC is a world leader in STEM subjects, has a fantastic campus bang in the centre of London, surrounded by museums, galleries and concert halls, and its graduates are snapped up by employers. It's an opportunity to rub shoulders with people at the cutting edge of scientific research - 3rd year undergraduates are involved in real research and frequently co-author published papers.

Unlike many campus universities, London students tend to socialise outside of college and I was proud to have made many non-college friends and contacts while in London - this seemed unheard of among my schoolfriends who went to other cities.

Accommodation is guaranteed the first year, with halls near the campus, and a little further afield in South Ken. After that, students club together and house share. The college maintains lists of approved landlords with housing nearby - Kensington, Fulham, Earls Court etc.

Asterisk Tue 19-Feb-13 16:44:18

Just to add that Imperial offers a whole suite of humanities and languages courses which students can take at no extra charge. These include philosophy, literature, ethics, history, creative writing, music technology etc.

Iggly Tue 19-Feb-13 16:46:33

I was a student in London.

I loved it - but I am from London already.

The only down side is that it is bloody expensive. But plenty of opportunity for part time working, loads of stuff to do and see. Also a good spring board for jobs - a lot of people end up staying in London after graduating.

malinois Tue 19-Feb-13 16:51:21

And to add that Imperial College Union has one of the largest (if not the largest) clubs and societies section of any university in the country. Clubs and Societies

MagratGarlik Tue 19-Feb-13 17:46:34

I went to Imperial for my PhD and Sheffield as an undergrad.

London is very different from any other city in terms of student life. Cities like Sheffield where the university is also not a campus one are very student-centred, London of course is not, but as an imperial student you get free access to science museum, natural history museum etc (at least you used to back in the day...)

Staff at Imperial (and in fact any of the RG universities) are very research focused which can mean they are not focusing very much on teaching and don't have a lot if time for undergrads, you therefore need to be a very self-sufficient type of student.

I had a fabulous time there and a degree from IC is considered in the same league as one from Oxford or Cambridge - also in terms of employment prospects and making contacts etc.

Students there can be ultra-competitive though as they are amongst the very best and they are reminded of it regularly. This might therefore not be for everyone, particularly if your daughter prefers a more nurturing environment, but it really depends what you are looking for in a university. Not all will be a good fit for everyone.

Go and take a look, talk to staff and try to get a feel for the place. Being a student in London can be great, but it is very different to anywhere else.

badguider Tue 19-Feb-13 18:03:42

I went to Imperial as a post-graduate and all I can say is that I am sooooo glad I didn't go as an undergraduate.

It is a great university and suits some people but it would NOT have suited me at all. I went to a small university, in a town where you could walk most places, I did lots of 'clubs and societies' stuff and socialised at house parties. I was not into clubbing and preferred pubs and the occassional cheesy student 'bop' at the union.

Imperial only has science students and medics. I did some philisophy modules in with my maths and physics degree and most of my friends were arts students - philisophy, english, anthropology... As a girl doing physics I found the nerdy male atmosphere a bit much at times and was glad I had friends from halls from other subjects. The humanities subjects on offer at Imperial are very much 'enrichment' for science students.. though the free language courses are good (I did Spanish).

Many Imperial students when I was there for post-grad were from countries with extremely strong work ethics; china, singapore etc. They worked VERY hard, spoke very little (to me anyway) and did not really soicalise much. I am very into clubs and committees and voluntary work (which led to my current profession) whereas the Imperial students were very single-minded in the pursuit of the best possible grades in their subject.

Also, I liked London well enough but it's tough as a student with no cash at all, many Imperial courses make it almost impossible to work due to lab hours etc. I managed with some late-night waitressing but had some very dodgy night bus experiences on my way home.

If you like anonymity and the 'bright lights' of the big city and you know exactly what you want to do and want a first in your subject then it might be for you.
If you prefer cosy pubs dominated by philososphy and english literature students having pretentious conversations putting the world to rights and a really active student union and a university community where people all know each other then it's not really for you in my experience.

funnyperson Tue 19-Feb-13 18:15:17

lonecat things have hanged for London students since 20-30 years ago. I too had a fantastic time and encouraged my DS to apply to a London uni.
However student accommodation is big business in London. There are no grotty cheap flats only grotty expensive ones. No students are able to walk everywhere any more except for first years. Student discounts at theatre and opera and plays are no longer what they were. Imperial second years can live in parsons green though but the budget needed for decent accommodation is much much more than any other uni and student life is greatly affected as a result. There is no longer a swimming pool ar Imperial.

funnyperson Tue 19-Feb-13 18:20:53

There is also no doubt that when out, the 18-21 year old is amongst every level of Londoner including the dark underbelly (evil laugh) it is not like being amongst peers on a campus. Travelling back late at night on night buses to remote and therefore affordable accommodation can be grim and dangerous.

Thus my verdict for this decade is, if you can afford £150-£250 per week plus bills for accommodation in the second year or live at home then fine otherwise the student will get a better education elsewhere. The same applies to UCL.

funnyperson Tue 19-Feb-13 18:21:12

sorry- changed, not hanged!

funnyperson Tue 19-Feb-13 18:26:23

Incidentally it is still possible to meet students form other colleges and arty disciplines at intercollegiate halls . Also first years live in white period houses in Kensington- vair nice. My nephew goes to Imperial and as my sister is well off and he lives in a naice flat in his second year he loves it. Loads of job opps.

Copthallresident Tue 19-Feb-13 18:52:22

funnyperson DD pays £550 per month, for a quite large room in a flat with living room , quite nice sized kitchen, balcony and 3 other bedrooms, 3 tube stops from uni, though they bus it. Last year they also had a roof terrace with views over London for the same, a bit further out. This year's flat is grottier and they are on a Council estate, last year it was all slate tiles and wood floors and Ikea showroom in a lovely area but they prefer this year's flat, "it's like living in Shameless". At first I did the middle class worried mother thing but actually there are lots of nice and interesting neighbours on the estate, and they feel watched out for, and actually it is part of her education.

She does walk, and bus it and tube it......
She does absolutely love it.

Copthallresident Tue 19-Feb-13 19:08:32

And on nights out she is always travelling with others back to the same area, if not flat, so she is never on her own on scary night buses or with the scary under belly of London. Things have changed a lot as well, the happening bits of the city for clubs and culture are out East in areas that were no go when I first moved to London but are now very hip and trendy.

Scariest underbelly I have seen when on travels around unis was in Nottingham when I turned off the ring road too soon and ended up in an area with scary looking hoodies loitering on every corner and plastered with posters encouraging people to turn them into the Police.

MariscallRoad Tue 19-Feb-13 23:07:51

kriskar imperial is superstar. Their pastoral care is superior. In London u can cycle and walk.

Social life: student tickets to the South Bank National Theatre from £12, Barbican music about same; Entry Pass for National Theatre £5 and the student can take a mate with £7; Opera with student ticket from £20 (great seats) and u can take a second person. Student discounts for theatre. South Bank complex is 25 minutes walk.There are IC students sharing 2/3 bed flats in SE London where rents are lower.

MagratGarlik Tue 19-Feb-13 23:11:15

Bikes do get stolen frequently from the S. Ken campus. A friend of mine had 6 stolen even though the last 4 were only clapped out old heaps.

MariscallRoad Tue 19-Feb-13 23:20:28

Unlikely to be mugged in Leicester Square day time

MariscallRoad Tue 19-Feb-13 23:21:17

But one needs to be careful in the evening in general

ifancyashandy Tue 19-Feb-13 23:27:02

London stole my heart as a student and never gave it back. I adore this city. And as others have said ICL is an internationally renowned university. Amazing opportunity.

MariscallRoad Tue 19-Feb-13 23:52:09

I love London to bits. I live here. Studied at the University of London. there is lots of high quality and affordable events. Much happening.

malinois Wed 20-Feb-13 12:55:35

funnycat sorry to correct you but the new sports centre has a 25m pool and spa. There is also a pool at St Marys. The sport facilities are amazing, especially considering the centrality of the campus: www3.imperial.ac.uk/sports/facilities

AbbyCat Wed 20-Feb-13 13:00:49

Imperial is awesome. Definitely do it! I did post grad there and was very sad to leave.

fossil971 Wed 20-Feb-13 13:13:59

I did a postgrad degree at Imperial and I'm very proud of my DIC. I did look at it for undergrad but was (country bumpkin) overwhelmed by the concrete jungle, travelling etc and went to Cambridge instead. Good for punting, but rubbish for engineering. Not one of the best decisions of my life.

If your DD is cut out to be a scientist, go to the best place and don't look back. Student life is what you make it, it's only three years and the objective is to get a degree, not sit in pubs discussing philosophy.

funnyperson Thu 21-Feb-13 19:33:54

malinois so it does. The place is thriving. I must take advantage since I'm a Senior Lecturer there.

sandripples Sat 23-Feb-13 19:55:04

My DS is in 1st year at ICL. He was initially disappointed to be allocated a shared room but now is very happy and enjoys having shared room, right next to the college. Work-load is very intense but he makes good use of the excellent gym (yes there's also a pool) and although from the far flung North is getting a good group of friends now. Its perhaps taken a bit longer than elsewhere but I think he's getting there and proud to be at a top class institution. I certainly think you have to be prepared to work very hard but there are ops to do other things too.
For me when I was a student, I don't think I could have coped with London straight from school. It is a question of personal preferences and aspirations.

unitarian Mon 04-Mar-13 01:48:23

My DD is 3rd year at Imperial. She loves it - never really considered anywhere else to study.
The social life is fantastic, the facilities and teaching are marvellous and it isn't costing us an arm and a leg!

She had offers from Manchester and Leeds, both much nearer home, but I honestly would be more worried about her safety in either of those cities.

She lived in Beit for her first year.

PM me if you would like more detail. There are a lot more men there than women.

unitarian Tue 05-Mar-13 01:45:11

It was insensitive of me to say it isn't costing us an arm and a leg. My DD is 2010 entry so is on the pre-price-rise fees. However, fees are pretty much the same everywhere in England so, leaving that aside, is a London university more expensive than elsewhere overall? I'm not convinced it is.

We live in a rural village in a tourist area. A single person renting accommodation here would pay much the same rent each month as DD is paying for her flat in London. We looked at student accommodation in Manchester and it wasn't a lot cheaper than Beit Hall in Kensington. The student loan London allowance takes up the slack.

She could have lived at home and chosen the 'local' RG university. It's about 15 miles away but is at least a 40 minute commute by car each way with parking to pay for. She would need a car as the bus service is horrendous and she would still have to be picked up and dropped at the nearest bus stop. Travel without a car here at night is inconceivable. Travel of any form here is subject to weather conditions.

Where she lives she can shop for food locally very cheaply and dodge about with her Oyster card with cheap access to great theatre and concerts. I get quite jealous.

If the London weighting on her student loan means she leaves with a higher loan to repay at the end of it then she would argue that a qualification from Imperial enhances her career prospects in any case. It is in the top half dozen places in the world for her subject.

All in all, I know she is in the best possible place for her. I worry less about her safety in London than I would if she had chosen to study pretty much any where else. I lose more sleep when she's here using the car and driving across lonely moorlands!

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