Review of Oxford Brookes University
Brookes is the lesser known Uni in Oxford, for obvious reasons, but I, personally, don't think that makes it a bad uni.
Many people compare Oxford and Brookes with an A-Level college and a polytechnic one, but, from one standpoint, a first class honours is just as good, whichever uni you go to!
My story about attending brookes is that i didn't get the grades for Oxford, but had fallen in love so much with the city on my visits here, that Brookes became my second choice. However, i would NOT say brookes was a bad uni.
Ok, so i'm going to cut this down into sections, so that you can scroll to whichever part you like. I've tried to include all the problems I've heard, and as a rep, i heard a few, as well as the good:
Brookes in split into 4 campuses - Gipsy, which is the main campus and where the majority of subjects are taught, and the location of our Union; Wheatley, the business school mostly; Harcourt Hill, where education, philosophy and media is taught, along with a few others; Marston, the medical campus, which a lot of people couplr with Gipsy, but i thought i'd give it a mention. Whereas Gipsy lane is located in Headington, the other two are a bit out of the way, though whether this constitutes a problem depends on personal preference. Personally, it didn't bother me, I had lectures at Harcourt on occasion, and would travel to wheatley to meet friends and shop at Asda without much care, but many people would say it's annoying.
As said, bus service is very good in Oxford - it has to be, since parts of the city bans use of cars! Brookes itself runs the U1 bus, which runs between the 3 main campuses, and the U5, which runs between the far-out halls, to town, back to Marston then back to Gipsy. If you live in Halls, you get a free bus pass, though if you don't, a pass if Â£200-something for the year. This pass also gets you discounted prices on other buses, including the Oxford tube which goes to London - Â£9 return with your pass. For that reason, going to stay with your friends is cheaper if you leave from London, and a night out there isn't unheard of. The buses also run late into the night. The U1 becomes the NU1 after midnight, and this does have a fee of Â£1, but this is a lot cheaper than a taxi!
There's also the Brookes safety bus, the number of which you'll get on your induction. This is, basically, a free mini-bus service if you NEED it, and will take you from wherever you are, back home. It was initially designed for females who find themselves on their own, but everyone can now use it if necessary. They do can for money, though it's not a lot, and if you cant, they don't kick you off or anything.
There's also banks scattered around the campus (Abbey and Nationwide) as well as other ATM's, though the banks aren't that far away if you need to visit your own bank.
Brookes has it's own medical centre. A lot of medical students needs to have vaccination boosters here before they can see patients on their courses, and everything i've heard about them is good. They did go a bit mental with the swine flu information, but that's better than no information at all!
I lived in Halls in my first year, and could find no personal fault with it, other than the room was a bit small, but so what? Rent wasn't that bad, it was nice and clean, and, at least in my block, we got a really good community thing going.
That said, i have heard other people not liking the accomodation. Mine was really close to campus, but some people lived a half hour's bus journey away, and the buses may not always run on time. Some people even lived on other campuses that had nothing to do with their course, and would need to travel all the way to another just to attend lectures! Still, you get a free bus pass for living in halls, so it is something you adapt to. Unfortunately for Harcourt-ians, you'll need to jump on a bus just to go shopping, but most people learnt to just do this on the way home.
It's also fairly easy to find accomodation for the following years, though not always brilliant houses, or cheap rent. You may need to spend some time looking for the right place, and decide (definately before christmas) who you're going to live with.
The Union is really engaging, in fact, to a point where you find yourself ignoring it because it's always advertising something. They actively try and recruit volunteer "Student Reps", who students go to with issues that they can deal with at meetings and such. It's really good on your CV, and not that much work really. They have a big club, called the venue, which holds events for students, which aren't always brilliant, but the drinks are always cheap and there can be a good few nights there!
They also have a mini-high street section. It has a shop, which sells all your basics, a dentists, a pub (hearts), a chapaliancy, a job shop (in case you want help finding a part-time, Oxford area summer, or post-grad job) and all the usual union things, that every uni seems to have, so not really worth mentioning.
From my view, the Oxford clubs, especially on Cowley Road, seem to advertise to brookes rather than Oxford. In freshers year, you'll get loads of flyers and posters and people telling you nights to do, it's really hard not to have an option of something to do, whatever night you're free!
The fresher's fair and sports fair are almost must's on ur first week. Although people can be quite pushy, there's literally hundereds of societies for you to join, if you want. I joined things for the hell of it, and went to a few events to test it out, a few things were actually really fun, and I made loads of friends! Like, i got coaxed into joined the Gaelic football squad, and even though i was almost pulverished when i was tackled by a regular player, it was a laugh, and i just chose never to play again, though still remained friends with the people i'd met that night, even the guy who tackled me.
There really are too many annecdotes and tales to tell you about the societies at brookes, and the sports you can do, but let me say there are loads, there's even random things like the bacon appreciation society, the non-drinkers social society, the debating society and the 'dare-you-to' society (never been there, but i do wonder if what i hear is true on occasion!).
Brookes does have a library, which will have all the modules main titles in, and (not important til at least your second year) a lot of journals too. They do have a good link where you can reserve books and pick them up in another library on another campus. Also, you can apply to use the Oxford Uni library, in your third year, which will undoubtably be a great asset on helping you with your dissertation. The library also helps you find online journals or books if they don't actually stock it themselves.
Their are two sports facilities - one at harcourt, and the bigger, though more busy one, at Gipsy. Each has a gym, which i've been told is pretty good, though not as good as some of the ones in town. Membership isn't as expensive as these other ones though. Harcourt even has a swimming pool, though i've never used it so cannot comment on this. A lot of the sports soceities use the sports centre for their activities. They have their own rooms for things like martial arts, a huge gym which is used for basket ball or badminton, there are several squash courts and also, a huge synthetic climbing wall. At the start of the year, they usually allow you to climb this for free, so go and have a go if you like!
There is also an on-site computer centre, in case you're having issues with your laptop or brookes account. there's loads of computers scattered around the campuses, some of them 24/7, only closed for holidays or maintenance. A lot of brookes courses are online - e.g. sorting out your modules, checking your results, contacting a lectures, getting lecture notes, reading module guides etc. You do learn more bout this in your first week.
Bars and Clubs:
Ok, so there are plenty of these. The SU has several of its own, as previously mentioned, the Venue club, as well as Morrals Bar, Hearts Bar and the Metz bar, the latter of which can be privately hired out for special occasions.
One of the main areas of activity is Cowley road. A lot of students live here, and there are plenty of bars to go to, like the City arms or the Hobgoblin to name the most popular. There's also tons of other places though, bars, clubs and more specific ones, like cocktail bars for instance. There's also an O2 Academy, which usually favours the heavy metal, screamo, gothic side of music, though not always. Again, freshers fair and your letterbox will give you plenty of options of where to go.
You've then got the city centre. Some bars are better than others, but i think this is mainly a matter of personal preference. Lava Ignite and bridge are the two biggest clubs, though, with some searching, you can find others you may prefer. An event called Stamina, which happens within the first few weeks of Uni, will take you to some of these other places, where you can decide if you like them or not.
Here's a few examples of what freshers "typically" do each day of the week:
Mon: Lava/Ignite, Anuba, bridge, blue banana (comedy lovers)
Wed: O2 (fuzzy ducks - fancy dress)
Thurs: Event oritentated
Fri: Clems, Regal
Sat: Any of the above really
Sun: SU bars
Though it's your choice at the end of the day. A lot of people go out with their flatmates or hall block, though after awhile you'll start going out with your subject groups too.
There are several shops - Waitrose, Iceland, Tesco and Sainbury's the most frequented, though if you can be bothered to, there's also Asda, by far the biggest store and definately the cheapest, way over in Wheatley.
That said, oxford isn't a cheap place to live. A recent survey placed it third most expensive place, and that included price of alcohol, not just food, under London and Cardiff. However, it's all just a matter of looking and timing. At the Red Lion, for example, drinks are fairly cheap, at the Half Moon, it's ridiculous. At the cellar, VK costs Â£2 on a friday, Â£3.20 every other day. You just need to look and learn. With supermarkets, learn what deals are on, and shop around.
The city is quite big, and fairly student orientated. There are plenty of food outlets, clothes shops, entertainment points and drug stores. A good idea for any uni you're interested in is to come and spend a day in the local city, because if you don't like that, the uni probably isn't for you.
I think Brookes is a good university. Compared to some, it's very young, and i feel it's just starting to be recognised as a good uni. Each year, things improve, and more students attend. It's currently undergoing some major facelifting - modernising all the facilities, computer rooms and buildings.
I recommend Brookes to anyone.