As the username suggests, Bristol or Newcastle uni?

(71 Posts)
BristolvsNewcastle Fri 12-Feb-16 21:37:59

I've namechanged for this so I can be completely candid without having it all linked to my usual name, but you might recognise some of the details and that's fine smile

DD has offers from Bristol and Newcastle to do MFL - French, Spanish and German. She's doing French and Spanish A levels, predicted A* in both (just got great marks in her mocks), and German will be ab initio.

She's gone through the details of many courses at many universities, and likes the (almost identical) structure of the courses at B and N. She wants to be in a city, not an out of town campus. Newcastle is at least 4 times as far away as Bristol - Bristol is "pop home for an afternoon if you need to", Newcastle is either a very expensive or very slow journey. Newcastle is a lot cheaper to live in.

Bristol offer is AAB, Newcastle offer is ABB, going to unconditional if she firms them. Plus they will give her 1K if she hits her original offer and 2K if she gets AAA (which she is very much planning to!). Looks like there are about 250 people in each year across the range of MFLs at Bristol, about 130 at Newcastle. Newcastle have possibly a wider range of university links for the year abroad.

Bristol has a certain reputation that Newcastle doesn't seem to - when she talks to people about her choice, the general reaction is "oh well, Bristol then". But in fact looking at league tables and the REF, Newcastle actually beats Bristol in most respects.

Her heart says Newcastle - she really liked it there. But she liked Bristol too (more than she expected to given how strongly she had felt about Newcastle!) and she is wondering whether her head should be saying Bristol, mostly based on that reputation, I think!

Any further insight to help break the stalemate would be gratefully received grin

hellsbells99 Sat 13-Feb-16 07:49:43

If all things are reasonably equal - Based on my DD's first year experience, I would go for the one closer to home. DD was unexpectedly home sick in her first term but luckily is only an hour away. Also a benefit if I want to meet her for a meal and last night her sister went to stay with her.
However, I do believe that Newcastle is a great city to be a student in!
And as you say, a lot cheaper .....but then train fares home will be a lot more.

jeanne16 Sat 13-Feb-16 08:26:06

She will soon be graduating and looking for a job. Bristol will look better to future employers than Newcastle.

What2 Sat 13-Feb-16 08:32:48

I agree that Bristol will look better but I also think Newcastle would be a fabulous place to be a student. With my DC distance hasn't been a problem as they don't come home that often. It would be nice to be able to pop home though.
Accom in Bristol never sounds great but it's not an insurmountable problem.
Has your DD got some facts and figures in the year abroad. The real picture of availability of places etc is often very different to the image given by the Uni.

I bet they would both be great places to go to uni so it's a nice choice to have.

What do you think your DD wants to do?

MuttonCadet Sat 13-Feb-16 08:52:00

Bristol was always full of private school kids, but this might have changed over the last decade.

BristolvsNewcastle Sat 13-Feb-16 09:03:56

Bristol will look better to future employers than Newcastle.

This is it really - thing is there is no rational basis for that, lol! In the REF Newcastle does a fair bit better than Bristol, in the CUG tables for each language, Newcastle is several places above Bristol, etc.

And as you say, a lot cheaper .....but then train fares home will be a lot more.

We could probably pay for her to fly home twice a term and it would still be cheaper, lol! It's a big difference.

But yes, her sister is at uni very close to home, and she's been twice in two terms to visit her, and that would be much more difficult if she were up in Newcastle. Although as she points out, in two years time, she'll be going abroad! She wants to end up living in Europe probably, so being able to pop round for tea doesn't come high on her list of priorities ...

I think she does have some stats about the year abroad from both, will make sure she's checked through it all again.

She's just been to offer holder days at both, and had hoped beforehand that that would help her make her mind up, but they didn't!

BristolvsNewcastle Sat 13-Feb-16 09:07:19

Mutton - it hasn't. She is not a private school pupil. grin

TempsPerdu Sat 13-Feb-16 09:16:13

I studied MFL at Bristol (albeit over a decade ago now, so things may well have changed). Loved most aspects of studying there, and Bristol is an amazing city to be a student in, but the Spanish dept in particular was very full of ex-public school types (lots of 'Oh, I spent my gap yah riding with gauchos in Argentina') which, coming direct from a state grammar, I found rather intimidating! They were also a bit cliquey at times, but that might have been my bad luck (and anyway I think Newcastle may have a similar reputation?).
The course itself was pretty good - varied and challenging, with a good grounding in history, philosophy, politics etc alongside the languages themselves. And I had a fabulous time on the year abroad, but this was very much left up to us to organise ourselves (again, this might be different now though!)

What2 Sat 13-Feb-16 09:22:32

What about percentages of firsts or 2:1's awarded by each Uni, does one award significantly more than the other?

BristolvsNewcastle Sat 13-Feb-16 09:30:51

The courses are very similar. And yes, both places said similar about the year abroad, it's your responsibility basically. Both places said that for Spain/South America that it's best to go and study for a semester (Newcastle has more SA link unis than Bristol) because youth unemployment is so high you won't get a job.

Forgot to say that Bristol have only been running the 3 language degree since September, so a lot of her questions were answered with "well, we don't really know how this will work yet, but ..." whereas Newcastle have been doing it for a while (everyone applies for modern languages and you do whatever combination you fancy, can drop a language, etc) and are very free and easy, saying you can basically do whatever - possibly a bit too free and easy, said rather uptight dd!

TempsPerdu Sat 13-Feb-16 09:44:01

Yes, I did wonder as the three- language option wasn't available when I was there! Should add that I did ab initio Spanish (my school didn't offer it) and found it well organised but very demanding - we had separate language classes for the first year, after which it was pretty much sink or swim. About half my cohort of a dozen or so students ended up switching courses as they couldn't keep up - ab initio requires a lot of self-motivation and independent study.

BristolvsNewcastle Sat 13-Feb-16 09:44:38

Oh that's a good one What, will get her to check.

Right, about to go out; thanks for all input so far smile

1234Littleham Sat 13-Feb-16 11:45:42

My dd is at Bristol doing languages. Loves it. She is from an average state comprehensive and has had no trouble fitting in. It isn't an issue. Amazing language facilities & lovely staff. Only language in common with your dd is German. The only downside is the cost of the accommodation.

Please feel free to ask any questions. (Don't know anything about Newcastle as it wasn't on her list).

BristolvsNewcastle Sat 13-Feb-16 18:44:40

Just asked her about the proportions of firsts, 2:1s etc, whether there was any difference between the two places. She just shrugged and said, "it doesn't matter, I'm going to get a first anyway"! This girl doesn't lack motivation, lol. She's soooooooo looking forward to university smile

bojorojo Sat 13-Feb-16 19:08:29

I tend to think 3 languages is a push because it reduces the time spent in each country and you really need as much as you can get for ab initio! DD did French and Italian at Bristol and the French department are nowhere near as good as the Italian Department. Sadly. However employers like Bristol and no-one will care one jot where the language departments sit in league tables! They care more about the university and the skills of the applicant. Getting a job during the year abroad is down to the student. They do not have banks of jobs to tap into. The semesters at university are two per year on the year abroad so not sure how a third fits in. My DD had no time between semesters and didn't come home. Just went from one university to the next - and then found somewhere to live! Bristol have links with great universities. Geneva for French is fantastic! Forget France! DD used the summer for work experience and volunteering for employment purposes.

Newcastle is pretty popular with privately educated offspring these days who didn't go to Durham or Bristol, or Exeter!! The drinking, club and party scene is a big pull, and it's cheap! Bristol has a very high population of privately educated students and that possibly buoys up its reputation. Having said that, DD loved it. Also, everyone fits in unless you absolutely must stay with your tribe!

bojorojo Sat 13-Feb-16 19:17:48

I forgot to say that many MFL departments will have lots of privately educated students because the numbers taking MFL A levels has nosedived at state schools. Therefore the private schools punch above their weight. There are so many threads on MN where children find MFL too difficult! It is a fabulous skill to learn languages but my DD found doing all the work for 2 more than enough in year 4. They PILE up the work with challenging deadlines. I would ask how many ab initio students get firsts. Lots of the Italian students were ab initio and DD said they really struggled for 2 years and were clearly behind until after the "year" abroad - 6 months!

1234Littleham Sat 13-Feb-16 19:21:15

Agree that two languages is plenty.

Where did your dd go in Italy bojo? Did she have a good experience?

Thunderblunder Sat 13-Feb-16 19:21:27

I don't know about those 2 universities as my DD is at UWE but she's just sorted out a house share in Bristol for her second year and rent is astronomical in Bristol.

bojorojo Sat 13-Feb-16 19:49:00

Littleham. Would you like to PM me for all the info? It was University of Bologna.

Not sure about UWE area, but Clifton is expensive but then there are no transport costs. They sort of fall out of bed and go to lectures! There is plenty of money around judging by the delis and coffee shops full of students.

catslife Sun 14-Feb-16 12:09:03

UWE no longer offers MFL degrees. But one of the reasons that student properties are so expensive is that in some areas of the city there are students from both unis looking at houses.
Public transport is better in Newcastle than Bristol as they have a metro (local railway) system. Bristol roads are very congested and this affects the reliability of the bus service (if you end up in the Stoke Bishop halls which many students do in their first year, this is significant as it's approx 2 miles away from the university.)
Another thought - does anyone know what happens about accommodation when returning from the year abroad at both unis? In Bristol students look for houses very early in the year (many are looking now for next year) and am not sure how this can be done when a student is abroad. Does either uni help with this problem in any way?

1234Littleham Sun 14-Feb-16 12:19:06

At Bristol University they are allowed back into halls for the fourth year (for MFL). There are certain halls that take applications from any older students if they are stuck for finding accommodation.

www.bristol.ac.uk/accommodation/current/undergraduate/returners/

DeoGratias Sun 14-Feb-16 15:14:33

Newcastle never exceeds Bristol ever on anything - the offer she's been made proves that and certainly no in the things that matter such as career and jobs . I am from the former and my daughter adored the latter (Bristol).

bojorojo Sun 14-Feb-16 15:58:51

My DD spent her first year in Stoke Bishop and it is definitely ok re transport. Late at night they share a taxi back if necessary. The University make it clear not to walk. The bus stop was just outside the hall.

I do not think UWE and The University of Bristol have many shared areas because they are in different areas of the city and lots of Bristol University students like Clifton and the surrounding neighbourhoods. These are hardly handy for UWE. I don't think the accommodation costs are huge - less than London.

The city centre halls are chosen by the clubbing students as no taxi required to get back in the evening! When my DD was at Stoke Bishop the bus fares were included in the hall fees. There are lots of good reasons for choosing Stoke Bishop over and above other halls or houses. No-one needs a car and when my DD was there hardly anyone had a car. Parking is very restricted.

After the year abroad, I think it would not be realistic to go back to halls. Bristol is SO short of hall accommodation, this is not a good idea. There are other courses that are 4 years. Many Engineering ones for example and some people stay for Masters. You have to make friends and network with 4 year students. Whilst the student is abroad, keeping in touch is vital as the students remaining in Bristol will get the house and include you in it. My DD was kept in the loop regarding what they had looked at but, realistically, the people in Bristol will make the decisions. She was just happy to be included.

eatyourveg Sun 14-Feb-16 16:37:24

And as you say, a lot cheaper .....but then train fares home will be a lot more

ds paid £19.50 each way for London to Newcastle last summer for the open day and £19.15 yesterday for the offer day. You can do it for less than £10 if you take the coach and are happy to sit and read/sleep for 7-8 hours

PerspicaciaTick Sun 14-Feb-16 16:55:11

I'm with your DD - I love Newcastle too (as someone who was born in Bristol and lives in the SE).

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