by Rinal Gudhka - April 2020
I am an international student born and brought up in Kenya; although, I have Indian roots in me! I am in my final year of Osteopathy at Swansea University. I speak English, Gujarati, Hindi and Swahili and would love to learn other languages. Travelling is something I love, even if it is just weekend getaways along with photography and art work.
I hope you like my blog on why Swansea is a brilliant place to study.
Going to university can be an exhilarating experience for many people. But getting to this end stage often involves a long process from conducting preliminary research, completing an application, sometimes having an interview and then getting accepted by the university of your choice.
“University’s like this little world, a bubble of time separate from everything before and everything after”
And so, when selecting the perfect university there are often a number of things to consider. This is why, I present to you the reasons why Swansea University is the best…
1. Remarkable Location
How much does location mean to you? Because Swansea University ticks all the common boxes, but definitely ticks a few extras! The university has two campuses, Singleton Park and Bay. The best thing is both these campuses are in very close proximity to the beach.
Yes, I said the BEACH! Bay campus has its own private beach, so if you study and live on Bay Campus it is like being in paradise. Singleton campus is a short walk to the beach, and by short, I mean two minutes’ walk. The views from the top floors of the student accommodation on Singleton are just equally mesmerising.
The beach isn’t the only feature that makes it unique. Its close proximity to the centre of Swansea is a great factor too. This means you can engage in various activities and visit many attractions regardless of what you like within a short time. This also means, the student night outs are often easy to walk to or get a cheap taxi. Gyms, shopping centres, leisure centres, museums, cafes and restaurants are all within close reach.
Singleton campus is also very close to the biggest urban park in the city and is often known for its beautiful botanical gardens. On the other end of the university is Brynmill park, that consists of a lake, play area for children, center for wildlife preservation and bowling green.
If you like the idea of the above, Swansea is the place to go.
2. Welsh University of the Year
The University has grown over the years. This year it celebrates 100 years and definitely another call for celebration would include Welsh University of the Year 2019. Swansea University has gained the Welsh University title the second time in the past 3 years by The Times and Sunday Time Good University Guide.
“This latest achievement reflects the hard work and dedication shown by all of the staff and students across the University, and we will endeavour to build on this continued success” – Professor Paul Boyle, vice-chancellor Swansea University
3. Phenomenal Students' Union
Swansea University Students’ Union (SUSU) is ranked one of the top ten in the UK.
This ranking comes with a great deal of hard work from the full-time officer elected each year. Not only do they throw a fantastic two-week long freshers’ event but organise some of the biggest events such as summer ball, varsity, and graduation ball amongst others. The SU represents the students’ voice largely and has offered a great amount of support for the LGBTQ community through support, welfare and campaigns. Another great achievement is the celebration of Black History month every October.
The SU is a place to meet people, go for a drink and party the night away by running JCs and Tafarn Tawe (Student bars) and student nights every Fridays (TOOTERS) at Rebound. The SU also runs Costcutter, Root – healthy food store, Fulton Outfitters to get yourself Swansea branded clothing, the campus nursery and the Advice and Support Centre. So with the SU, you get to be involved in more than just your lectures and can sometimes help you get a part time job as well.
A great achievement this year has been the grand opening of the first zero waste shop in Wales called Root Zero. This store aims to reduce packaging and food waste by following ‘bring your own container concept’ and stocks a choice of eco-lifestyle and sustainable products.
4. World Rankings
The quality of world-class education at Swansea University is seen in its position in the rankings table. It has 8 subjects in the top 10 and a further 10 in the top 20 according to the Times Good University Guide.
It appears in 22 subjects in the Academic Ranking of World Universities of which ten subjects appearing in the 200 (Chemical Engineering, Clinical Medicine, Computer Science and Engineering, Ecology, Hospitality and Tourism Management, Mechanical Engineering, Nursing, Oceanography, Public Health, and, Water Resources).
Swansea University has achieved its highest ever ranking in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. The University now appears among the top 300 elite institutions across the globe.
In 2018, the university gained a three-year valid Gold Award for Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) assessed through areas of teaching quality, learning environment and student outcome measures and learning gain.
5. Health and Wellbeing
It is a known fact that the feelings of wellbeing are fundamental to the overall health of an individual. Swansea University prioritises the health and wellbeing of the community – staff and students on a day to day basis. It is understandable that adjusting to new environments and lifestyles can be difficult whilst dealing with extra stress from university work and so Swansea University offers wellbeing support through various channels. These services include aid for mental health/disability problems, financial hardship, cultural shock, special medical conditions. There is also a listening ear available and bereavement services. So yes, Swansea University plays an important role in maintaining the health and wellbeing of staff and students.
6. Fantastic CampusLife at Swansea
When it comes to supporting students Swansea University tries its best to take every step possible. The on-site and online CampusLife service is outstanding with friendly and welcoming staff. They are able to provide specialist support and advice in fields of Faith, Community, International, Money and Welfare.
This department organises events throughout the academic year to ensure everyone feels included in the community and enriches their university experience. Fancy going to explore another area in the UK during your time? Look no further! They aim to organise trips at student prices, and it is definitely a day filled with fun. Aside from this, they organise ‘Skills for Life’ events that include sessions from first aid and cooking to Film Photography and Navigation.
These practical life skills boost your confidence, self-esteem and improve your resilience whilst you make new friends.
Their social media appearance is handled and managed really well. Follow them on all the platforms and you will not miss a single event.
7. Green University Status and Sustainability
Following the footsteps of various environmentalists to take action in tackling the changes facing the environment, climate and global impact the University has outdone itself by obtaining the Green University status being the 1st in Wales and 9th in the UK out of 154 educational institutions. So if you are looking for a sustainable institution, look no further.
There are many opportunities for both the students and staff to get involved in continuously improving sustainable practices at the university through Swell – Staff engagement programme and Sustainability Award – Student engagement programme.
Previous events organised include beach cleans every first Wednesday of the month, student sustainability award workshop, Go Green Week, Evening Bat walk and Earth hour. You can be involved with the community through these as well as various other projects to promote greener lifestyle and sustainability.
Swansea University became Wales’ very FIRST Gold Standard Cycle Friendly Employer! You can also hire bikes to travel around the city or from campus to campus through the Santander Cycle scheme. Fancy a bike ride along the coastal path?
8. Friendly and Supportive Staff
From the time you meet a representative at a university fair or speak to someone regarding your queries through email or call you become a part of the family. Your experience at University be it learning or social can be highly influenced by the university staff. So, you can sit back and relax as you decide to study at Swansea University as the staff here are friendly, enthusiastic and very supportive. If they can’t help you, they will always be able to sign post you to the right place. They aren’t only there for support, but some are also there for having a chat and a cuppa.
Swansea is a vibrant centre for art and culture. It is home to the Taliesin Arts Centre and the Egypt Centre on campus as well as art galleries such as the Glynn Vivian and Mission Gallery in town. It doesn’t stop there, literature lovers can pay a visit to the local boy Dylan Thomas’ home too. There is something for everyone. The University and the City itself highly encourage multiculturism and so you will always find various multicultural and interfaith events taking place.
It is known to have one of the most loved, colourful and vibrant event of the year known as the Bigger Picture Festival. This is organised by CampusLife and is a week-long event, bringing different cultures together, giving them a chance to show the rest of the students about their culture through fun activities, love and joy. This year we celebrated International Students Day too, with a fun filled evening of laughter, food, love and dancing, making every student feel like they are and can represent their culture.
10. Swansea Research Excellence
90% of the University’s research has been classed as world-leading or internationally excellent acquiring top 30 rank in the UK for Research-Intensive University. Research has ranged from health and technological advancements to justice, equality and culture. It is fully engaged with the Research Excellent Framework (REF) and works with external stakeholders too! It is great pride to be a part of a world-class multidisciplinary research.
11. Societies and Clubs
The students’ union supports over 150 societies. From visual arts to poker; real ale to gospel there is something for everyone. If there is something you can’t find, it is very easy to form your own society. The vast number of societies and clubs makes a great way to meet like-minded people, make new friends and enjoy your free time at university.
A major part of societies is Sport Swansea. There is a large variety of sports that students can take part in, be it for fun or competitive. A £20 million Sports Village with state-of-the-art facilities that were used by athletes to prepare for the 2012 London Summer Olympics shows how much the university is invested in making the sports experiences better for all levels. In addition, the University has strong links with professional sports organisations like Swansea City AFC, Ospreys and Scarlets. Just like these teams have great support from fans, Sport Swansea is about supporters too. Every Wednesday the Green and White Army - #GWA is out in force, cheering on our teams!
12. Welsh Varsity
Now we spoke about how invested the University is into sports through the Student’s Union, but this comes into play when the Welsh Varsity approaches. It is the biggest student event of the year where Cardiff University and Swansea University battle out in various sports, it is the largest in Wales and second largest British Varsity game after Oxford and Cambridge. Through this, some players are able to secure contracts with semi-professional and professional organisations based on their performance. It is a day full of excitement, fun and a lot of laughter with the major final event of Rugby between both universities attracting thousands of students.
13. Student Choice Awards
We have seen how Swansea University is ranked in all other fields, but did you know Swansea University is also known for high student satisfaction. In 2019, the university was the WINNING University of the year by the What Uni Student Choice Awards. It took the top spot in the international category, and placed top 3 in the postgraduate, and course and lecturers’ categories.
It has also maintained its top 10 UK position through the National Student Survey (NSS) for overall student satisfaction!
14. International Student Support
Being an international Student from Kenya, I can definitely say I can understand how difficult it can be to move miles away from home to settle in a new place, make new friends and adjust to the new lifestyle. I often get asked how I managed to settle in so well. My answer to that is, it is all due to the incredible support from the International CampusLife. The friendly staff are there to guide you in anyway possible be it immigration or wellbeing related.
At the beginning of the year, they run an International Welcome Day that allows you to meet people from your country and make new friends.
Before you come to Swansea, you receive calls from the International student ambassadors, who answer any queries you have about student life, making it an easier transition as you have all the information beforehand. So all through your journey, from application to graduation there is adequate support for international students.
15. It is for everyone
Swansea University is greatly inclusive of the local community. A number of facilities on campus are also for the public, such as the library on singleton campus, the Taliesin arts centre that hosts a number of events all year round, both student and external as well as the Egypt centre that is open to the public to view. In addition to that, the Health and Wellbeing Academy offering Osteopathy, Audiology, Respiratory, Cardiology and Midwifery services is accessible by the general public. This forms a close-knit network between the community and the University.
16. Entertainment - Music and Festivals
Wales is famous as the ‘Land of Song’ and this is in line with the range of music on offer across the city from famous bands like Stereophonics to lead artists like Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran performing in Swansea. Swansea plays host to a number of music festivals and events throughout the year.
Another famous event taking place every year is the Wales Air show along Swansea Bay featuring breath-taking aerobatic displays, state-of-the-art military aircraft and vintage planes from the past. It takes place during the summer break and so it counts for a good beach barbeque with your friends as you enjoy the show all day long.
17. Small City. Big Personality.
You can explore Swansea city quickly and easily. But I suggest taking your time and taking in the beauty at each point. From the Maritime Quarter, city centre, Swansea bay and uplands to nearby Mumbles, this city is full of surprises and plenty of charm.
You have it all! Town, beach, campus, parks… you name it. With the 24-hour Unibus you can travel your way around, explore and enjoy.
I am sure there are a number of you who like some form of outside adventure be it a hike in the woods, a walk along the beach of going to explore waterfalls. Well, Swansea has it all. The Gower Peninsula is definitely a pretty sight! It the UK’s first area of outstanding natural beauty with the Three Cliffs and Rhossili taking the spotlight, but there are countless other things to explore around.
There is the Brecon Beacons about an hour drive away that has amazing scenery and walking along the trail to the waterfalls is just beautiful. There are a great range of hiking trails into the woodlands around, so you just got to pick what you like. As I said earlier, there is something for everyone in Swansea.
19. Safe and Happy City
I am sure when considering which place to spend the next few years safety would be your priority. Well you need not to worry because Swansea City is considered to be one of the safest cities in Britain by the Business Insider UK list. Apart from the safe aspect, Swansea is filled with friendly people, ready to help you when you need it. It is considered as one of the happiest, most welcoming, friendly and trustworthy city and is ranked number 3 by The Telegraph in 2018. So if that is something you look for, then Swansea should be on your list.
20. Outstanding Alumni Network
Don’t worry. Your Journey with everyone does not completely end after graduation. Through Swansea University’s Alumni Association you can stay in contact with your institution after graduating. You form a network with over 60,000 active members and you are able to share your experiences at the university. The members are from different sectors and to name a few, Sir Terry Mathers OBE (Wales’s first billionaire), Jason Mohammad (television and radio presenter) and Liz Johnson (Paralympic gold-medal winning swimmer). So come join Swansea Uni and later be one of these people!
So to sum it up...
Swansea offers you so much that can make your experience here amazing! You can chat with our friendly student ambassadors online for any questions you have about living and studying in Swansea. You cannot miss it on social media, so make sure you are following the community on all channels. Swansea is a great place to study and experience adventure!