Monday, December 15, 2008

Africa News Today - A student's guide to ... University of the West of England With two universities, Bristol is full of students and with that comes a huge array of student entertainment

A student's guide to ... University of the West of England

With two universities, Bristol is full of students and with that comes a huge array of student entertainment

University of the West of England

Zoe Andrews, an English language and marketing third year student at University of West of England gives us a tour of her university.

Being a student in Bristol

Bristol is a lively and diverse place, so it's great to be a student here. With two universities in the city, Bristol is full of students, and with that comes a huge array of student entertainment.

There are plenty of buses around, so it's easy to get around the city. However, some buses can be a bit pricey, so getting a bus pass is useful. Alternatively, the university runs its own bus services around the city, at a lower cost than the privately owned bus companies. For more info go to www.uwe.ac.uk/hsv/transport/bus.shtml. There are also good train links with two main stations. Bristol Parkway, which is approximately two miles from UWE's main campus and Bristol Temple Meads, which is in the city centre. So home is never too far away when the washing needs doing.

UWE is a campus based university and has four campuses spread across Bristol, plus some associate faculties in Gloucester, Bath and Swindon. UWE's main campus, Frenchay, is located approximately five miles from the city centre, and this is where the majority of students are based.

Prices in Bristol tend are similar to the rest of the UK. The Student Union's two bars, Red and Escape are the cheapest places to drink but many bars and clubs in the city centre have student nights offering cheaper drinks. The cost of eating out in the city centre varies depending on the type of place you go to, but in the majority of restaurants a decent meal can be had for between £10 and £15. Nightclubs entry prices also vary, but it is possible to have a good night out for less than a fiver.

Study time

UWE has a wide range of resources to help students in their studies. There is a library at every campus, with the Bolland library at Frenchay being the largest, with the widest range of resources. The Bolland library holds a number of different books according to subject, plus many different journals (as well as online journals). The library tends to be well stocked so it's easy to find what you're looking for. There is a library catalogue which lists all the books in the library and says which are in stock, so you can see if the book you want is available before you go traipsing up to the top floor!

The division of exams and coursework for assessment varies from subject to subject, but for the most part you can expect to be assessed in both of these areas for each module you take. However, some subjects do place more emphasis on one or the other, so if either of those is a particular forte or weakness of yours, then it's best to check with the faculty before applying.

As with the issue of coursework vs. exams, the level of lecturer/tutor to student interaction varies. There are variations between subjects, depending on which lecturers you get teaching you, but the variation can also be dependant on how much you instigate contact with your lecturers. If you put more effort into making appointments to speak with your lecturers when there are issues, then you are likely to have more interaction than other students!

Amount of time spent in timetabled activity is, again, dependent on which subject you take. Time that students spend at UWE can be anything from 2 hours a week to more than 30! So, if you want a rough idea of what your timetable will look like, it's best to ask the faculty in charge of your subject.

Play time

The role of the Student Union at UWE is to make sure every student gets what they want out of their university life. This means that they deal with all the politics surrounding your degree, for example issues with assessment feedback, lecturer problems and so forth. Much of this is done through the course student reps, who put themselves forward to represent all the students on their course at two meetings a year (if you're interested, these are paid roles). The SU also facilitates a number of leisure activities. A popular event at UWE is the Friday night party termed "Crunchie", which has a different theme every week. The SU also has other events for example comedy nights and other music nights. These are all held in the SU's two bars.

The university has a number of activities and societies which are open for students to join. Some of these may be free, but others charge a small fee (many are £5 for the year) to cover costs. A variety of sports clubs exist - which can be competitive or recreational. Many non-sporting societies exist also, and if the society you want to join doesn't exist, you can always create one if you can get enough people interested.

Different sports are catered for at UWE; there is an all-weather pitch on campus which is used for hockey and football. Plus, there is a brand new sports centre, with squash courts, climbing walls and a fully-equipped gym. The uni also holds competitions in different sports. In the yearly varsity series which comprises rowing, rugby, and football matches there is a lot of rivalry between the city's two universities.

As Bristol is quite a large city, there is plenty to do to keep yourself amused. There is a wide choice of bars and clubs around, with different music most nights. If you're not into the club scene, there are plenty of other things to do. If music's your thing, the best place to check out for gigs is the Carling Academy, and occasionally there are bands at the Colston Hall. This is also host to a number of top comedy acts like Jimmy Carr and Ricky Gervais. There is also a bowling alley, ice rink and plenty of cinemas.

Accommodation

So you decided to move away from home, now you need to find a place to live. There are many different options available to students when it comes to university accommodation. Most universities provide accommodation for first years, and this is also true of UWE. The university has halls on or near to each of its campuses, so you're never far away from your lectures. The university also owns a number of houses around Bristol, for those who prefer to live somewhere smaller. Unite owns some larger halls of residence in the city centre, if you prefer to be where the action is. There are also a number of private landlords who let out properties especially for students.

In terms of the uni-owned accommodation, there are several options available. As mentioned, a number of students now live on campus. There are two different types of accommodation on the Frenchay campus. One is Carroll Court, which comprises a number of separate house-type buildings, which students share. In these each student has their own study bedroom, with communal kitchen /dining area and bathrooms. If you're prepared to pay a bit more, the new Student Village is a similar setup, but all rooms are en-suite, with six students in each flat. All accommodation at UWE is self-catered, so if you don't already know how to cook it's the perfect time to learn.

Support

There is a great deal of support available at UWE for anyone who needs it. The Student Union runs an advice centre with properly trained advisers to deal with any issues students may have – accommodation, health, money etc. The university itself also has a Centre for Student Affairs, which offers counseling and personal support.

The careers service at UWE is also based within the Centre for Student Affairs. This has a lot of resources to aid students with their career objectives. A number of careers advisers are on hand to discuss things over; however, sessions with careers advisers are only bookable by appointment, so you'll need to phone on the day. The careers service at UWE is not just for final years, so if you are looking for work and need some tips, or want to improve your CV, then this is where you want to go.

There is also help available in the way of financial support. Bursaries are available to students who submit an application to the Access to Learning Fund. This help is means tested so your income will be taken into account. There is also a Summer Fund available to students who are unable to work do to taking exam resits.

For students with disabilities, there is support available from the Disability Resource Centre. The centre caters for different disabilities, not simply physical, so students with dyslexia and related syndromes can get support from this service. The service provides help with things such as reading, or extra time for exams and so forth.

Opportunities for paid and voluntary work

Bristol being a large city, there are plenty of employment opportunities available. Many students like to find part-time work to fund their lifestyles. UWE has a JobShop, which is notified by employers of vacancies in and around Bristol, and then the JobShop sends out weekly emails to students who sign up. UWE also has the Community Volunteer Programme (CVP) which offers various different unpaid opportunities within the local community. These can be anything from one day to several weeks or months in length, and are a great addition to your CV.

Finally?

UWE may not be top of the league tables, but it beats redbrick universities in its community spirit. When you're sat in Red or Escape bar, or down on the waterfront cheering on the UWE guys in the boat race, you can really feel the sense of UWE community spirit. That beats 3rd place in a league table any day, doesn't it?

Places to check out

The Waterfront – full of bars and cafés to just go and sit with a nice cold beverage, especially in the summer, watching the world float by on the harbour.
Oceana – on the waterfront. One of Bristol's biggest nightclubs with different rooms according to music. Good on student nights for free entry before 10pm.
Hog's Head – good student-friendly pub in the very centre of town. Good deals on drinks makes for cheap drinking.
Carling Academy – a great place for live music or simply used for club nights when there aren't live acts on.

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