University of Bristol
Tel: (0117) 928 9000
Burst has had quite a volatile history. It was first started in 1995, and successfully broadcast on an RSL license in 1998 (Burst FM 106.6). However, with the rise of what is now The Eagle radio station, Burst was refused subsequent RSLs. More students have started to resurrect the ill-fated radio station and they are now doing well. They have regular RSL licences and provide a great framework for learning about the industry. They share their frequency with Bath Uni, so you get a bit of both sometimes. Whatever the case you can listen to the station online at www.burstradio.org.uk
Epigram is the Bristol University Students' Union Newspaper. It is produced by the students, and is published every two weeks to a fairly wide readership. The standard of the articles is, of late, good, having previously contained some terrible articles and frankly crimes against journalism this year. The standard of features and news-writing varies. A lot. What's on and reviews are okay and give you plenty of sound advice about the city.
The SU have a website, which gives some good general information, but students complain that it does not get updated very often.
Selling off halls and raising tuition fees are the only plans we have heard of which doesn't sound too good.
Alex Cox - Film Director
Frances Horovitz - Poet
Sue Lawley - Broadcaster
Alistair Stewart - Newsreader
Chris Woodhead - Schools Inspector
Kieran Bracken OS - England Rugby Player
Matt Lucas - Little Britain
David Williams - Little Britain
James Blunt - Singer
Bristol University's Students' Union building is one of the largest in the country, and it is well equipped. The Union also has a good relationship with the University, but for a variety of reasons, including its distance from the Halls, it is not well attended by the students. It seems the rest of Bristol has much more to offer.
The Epicurean - Situated on the 3rd floor of the Students' Union with a capacity of just under 700, this is the centre of student life in the SU. All union functions take place here.
Mandela Bar - Named after Nelson Mandela, this bar is smaller with more chat than noise.
Avon Gorge Bar - This bar is situated on the 5th floor of the SU, and comes with its own roof garden, where there are functions in the summer. It tends only to be in the summer that people venture up this high in the Union.
There are also numerous hall bars, which on the whole don't really have an atmosphere, but are good places to meet up with friends for a (very) swift one.
Here's the perspective of one student: The Union is only really frequented by those in nearby halls, but it is one of the stops of the Student Link and quiet close to the CorrieTap (packed, sweaty, popular, tacky pub with v.v.v strong cider) and 'Bristol' so pretty good for a pre large-night pint. The Epi. is nice enough, quiet cheap, dodgy Fosters (not that I drink the stuff) and occasionally has the free Guinness promotion...!! The union also hosts some gigs every once in a while.
The 'Epi' hosts three major functions per week, the largest being on a Friday night. Wednesday nights are also fairly popular because all the sports teams return from playing matches. There are frequent theme nights, like 70s, Hip Pop etc.
However, much of the social life takes place in the Hall bars on the Downs. It usually ends up with plenty of drinking and lots of random 'pulling' (for our American readers, 'making out')...at least you don't have far to walk!
The largest event of the year is the Graduation Ball. However, from Fresher's week, until the end of the summer term there will be plenty to keep you entertained. The Valentines Ball (at Churchill Hall) is always well attended, as is the Durdhambury at Durdham Hall, where there are live bands and drinking during the day and DJs and drinking at night. These are fun but can be pricey starting at £17 for the freshers ball with no food. They are a special occasion though so why not splash out. Ah gowann.
The societies at Bristol, and their membership, seem to be pretty mad. Apart from the usual sports clubs, there are the Bewilderebeeste (Monty Python Appreciation Society), a Bottled Beer Society (say no more!), ChocSoc (Chocolate), and a Dr. Who Society. They really are weird.
By far the fittest membership belongs to the Ju-Jitsu Club (guys, you can pay me later) or the Scandinavian Society.
Bristol have had recent sporting success across the board and came 5th overall in the BUSA league.
The University can provide a maximum of 95% of first years with a place in halls. However, year on year this provision is kept at around 90%.
There are three main areas of Halls belonging to the University. The first is at Stoke Bishop, two miles north of the University where there are 6 halls. There are three halls near the gorge in Clifton, half a mile west of the University, and finally, several student houses in and around the University precinct.
Overall the standard of the Halls is good. However, the food in the catered halls was described in words we cannot publish, and the en-suite bathrooms (for those rooms that have them) are smaller than an economy class airline crapper. A run down of the options is provided by a Bristol student below.
Very popular self-catering hall set in beautiful grounds. There seems to be a good JCR who organise plenty of events in term time, and their summer ball is one of the best in the university. 8 people per flat, a mixture of year groups and subjects. The cons is that it is over-subscribed and very expensive, but because it is over-suscribed the warden seems to pick the people who potentially have a lot to offer to hall life.
Similar to Goldney in atmosphere, ethos and people. Self-catered hall but in corridors rather than flats so more social. Good JCR events, really lovely people seem to be there.
Clifton Hill House
Catered hall, relatively small (250ish) which gives it a real sense of community spirit and you have an instant identity there. Close to uni buildings and good pubs. Good JCR again, unpretentious, incredibly supportive community, you will love this if you are apprehensive about being away from home for the first time, but having said that, everyone there seems to have a pretty glowing CV (again, over-subscibed), and want to get involved in everything, no apathy.
Stoke Bishop halls: Out here there's a 30-40min walk to university. This really isn't as much of a problem as it sounds, in fact, it's less claustrophobic than the city centre.
Badock and Hiatt Baker are the two largest halls in Stoke Bishop, and thus it is harder to feel a sense of community there. Badock is considered a "cool" hall due to its fantastic bar and big drum and bass contingent (although you'll find plenty of other music tastes as well). Students are proud to be part of Badock despite the 60's architecture (I don't know what ppl whinge about, it's set in beautiful grounds with squirrels aplenty) Varying degrees of apathy. Can't go wrong with Badock.
Unfairly nicknamed "Shiatt Bunker" there are some really really lovely people here. Again it is harder for the JCR to involve everyone as they can in the smaller halls, but they seem to do a pretty good job. Bar is not as good as Badock, but Hiatt Baker seems to lack some of the rahs of the other halls. Note: both Hiatt Baker and Badock have first year JCR's rather than second years, which can be a disadvantage as scond years have a prior knowledge of uni life and can also be more committed as they stay on in hall for an extra year.
A nice hall, has a rah reputation and a rivalry with Wills which borders on childishness, although only a minority of students are active about this. Good JCR and bar, 350 odd students, you can't really go wrong here. Has to be first choice hall if you want to be there as oversubscribed each year.
Infamous for "Rahs" hard to tell whether this is deserved or not! Certainly one of the more expensive halls, has a real sense of community, laid out like an Oxford college. Rooms in new quad are more sociable and less pretentious than old quad! You will love this hall if you went to boarding school etc, but also if you go there with an open mind you could meet some really lovely people. Students are willing to get involved in hall life. Over-subscirbed, needs to be first-choice hall.
Try to avoid this one. Self-catered and flats are very small (5 ppl) which can limit your social circle unless you land on your feet with your flat mates. Bar is quiet and looks like a working mens club, therefore no real sense of community. Uni hall students tend to crash other hall bars and its layout makes the settling in process harder. If you get a good flat of people, however, it is nice to have that secure base to come back to, and the independence of self-catering is an advantage. Not ideal for people who like to feel involved in a student community.
If you like a quiet life and luxury then apply here. En-suite rooms, good communal spaces, self catering. However, is very very quiet, deservedly nicknamed "Dull-dham". Bar has an air hockey table but is quiet! However, don't rule it out, halls change every year depending on the student intake, and you make your own fun anyway.
Don't get put off by people complaining about the architecture of any halls, compared to most university residences it is positively beautiful, and Stoke Bishop is a very grand residential area set in beautiful grounds, something that most people forget to mention! In addition, this is just one person's opinion; ideally visit the halls and get an idea of the atmosphere of each, go on gut feeling.
Finding private rented accommodation can sometimes prove difficult in Bristol. Prices have risen sharply recently, as the locals begin to suspect that the students aren't as poor as they make out. When looking, try to avoid areas like St. Paul's, where there can be a violent drug culture. Instead head for Clifton or Redlands.
Here's the perspective of another Bristol student who contacted us about the accommodation and the social life: Last time I paid, it was between 800 and 900 quid for a 10-week term in a catered hall. Self-catering are not much cheaper at all! You certainly could never cook on the difference. It gets significantly cheaper if you share a room etc. Private housing seems to be going at about £65 exc. bills per week for something okay (I don't really know - Im staying in halls, but thats approximately what friends are paying). Bear in mind that private digs are a pain in the arse to organise, both before and during, and work out more expensive than Halls to live in, and the terms of let are longer (i.e. holidays). For the first year certainly, I think Halls are the only choice.
Hall Bars used to be THE place to be and spend the night. Then the student link was introduced and killed them (relative to before the Link existed!) after 9.30/10.00pm as everyone moves onto clubs. They are however bustling before then on an average night, and depending on other factors, are still good after if you don't move on. And there are about 8 in staggering distance of each other.
As for the 'random pulling', do it anywhere but your hall bar, particularly in freshers week, as your random pull (a stunner through the beer goggles...) will probably turn out to be on your corridor or something.
Bristol has a lot to offer socially, and as a result it attracts a lot of the Students' Unions custom. The Strip on Whiteladies Road is a popular place to start when looking for a drinking establishment. The Roo Bar is an Australian theme bar, near the station (watch out for the numerous bras hanging from the ceiling above the bar.), and Henry J Beans is very popular. For somewhere cool and stylish there is Browns.
There are stacks of clubs, it is Bristol after all. Po-na-na-s is popular, as is The Fez. However, some may not like the Sloane appeal. Otherwise there is Evolution (cheese/house), The Maze (house/hard house), Lakota (clubbers club), and Creation (big name DJs). Despite all this I bet anybody 10 pints that they will return to Wedgies at least once even though it is the cheesiest, crappest music in Bristol. For cinema and theatre goers, there are plenty of places to keep you busy, including the Old Vic, the countries oldest working theatre!
As for Bristols placement relative to the rest of the country, Wales is only a few miles away. London is 111 miles east down the M4, and the M5 is good for getting to the north.
The relationship with the locals is improving, and the notorious tension between the University and UWE students is fairly limited.
While in Halls the demand for parking is kept under control by making students pay for a parking permit. However, with more students bring cars to university, parking at Halls and around the university can be a pain in the arse!
However, Bristol itself tends to be tight on parking, though metered spaces are fairly cheap (compared to London) at 40p - 60p per hour in the center. The M5 into and out of the city is always busy at rush hour!!
There are NatWest and Lloyds Bank cash machines in the Students' Union. The city also has branches of every major bank. Unfortunately, there are no banks near the main group of halls on the downs but you can get cashback in the shop by HB Hall. Buy alcohol now and have money for more alcohol later. Woohoo
The University buildings have good access for wheelchairs, and there is an 'Access for Deaf Students Initiative' which includes induction loops, and other special equipment for hearing impaired students.
However, getting from building to building is difficult because Bristol is quite hilly. Also the distance between Departments, shops, halls and entertainment can be considerable.
There is a large general store in the Students' Union selling everything from food and stationery to university clothing. To add to this there is a travel agency, market stalls (on occasions), a hairdresser and a launderette.
The Students' Union has a comprehensive second hand bookshop, and there are branches of all the major book retailers around town.
The University is well represented on the sports field, and one reason is that they have excellent facilities. They are also dotted around the city, so you will even get fit while running between them.
Under the SU there is a swimming pool, and next to the University there is Woodland House, which contains a gym and many indoor sports facilities. Out by the Halls of Residence at Stoke Bishop there are 40 acres of playing fields, an artificial pitch and numerous lawn tennis courts (used by the Lawn Tennis Association). Sailors go to the Baltic Wharf Marina and rowers head for the boathouse on the River Avon.
The StudentLink bus service is run by the Students' Union, and links Stoke Bishop to the Union until the early hours of the morning. It costs 60p and is great but if there is some really popular or hyped night somewhere, order a cab, as the bus will fill up at the early-on-halls and then miss yours (depends which end the bus comes from)
Other than that, the public transport in Bristol is quite good. Trains run from the various stations around town, and the buses are inexpensive. As for taxis, well I can't remember! All I can remember is that it wasn't very expensive when split between three. Yes it is what you are thinking. However, I did find out from one local company that it is just under £1.00 a mile...not bad really. Other than that walk home you lazy bastard.
Around the University in the city centre, there are few large green spaces, but there are numerous little squares and quads which are used by students in the summer when...revising (yeh, right!!).
Out by the Halls of Residence, there are plenty of parks and open spaces. There are the Downs, Aston Court and Cabot Tower. A great mix of town and country!
There is one main library containing about 1.2 million books and over 2,000 study places. Although the Students' Union complains that this is not enough, many would disagree. There are also specialist libraries. You probably won't need to visit them in your first year though.
The University has over 1,000 computers, which on the whole are fairly modern but do little more than the basic stuff you need. They are also slow due to the size of the network, probably. There was a myth circulating that the uni used mostly Macs but that's been revealed as bollocks. 24 hour access can be gained in the computer service building, but this has to be requested and 24hr access to your department is not available, because the university authorities believe that students have ample time and should therefore manage it properly! Only postgrads have full 24hr access. Some hall rooms are networked but access points to 'ResNet' are scattered. In-hall labs tend to be similar to main labs but with slower and older machines.
Overall Bristol students seem to be a happy bunch of campers! The University employs two consellors and the Health Centre has a number of doctors and nurses. Although the actual staff numbers are not as large as other universities with similar student numbers, things seem to be going fine. The Students' Union gives welfare, accommodation and sexual advice...(and no, they don't tell you what the best positions are!).