Cumbria Institute of the Arts
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Review of "Cumbria Institute of the Arts"
Upon arriving at the main campus (the Fine Art department has a seperate, small campus) you will be struck by it's small size, but suprisingly modern design. A modern building, surrounded by trees and set above and just outside the city centre.The Institute offers a variety of Arts based degree courses, from Fine Art and Media Production to Journalism (full course details can be found at http://www.cumbria.ac.uk) and it also teaches a variety of post-16 educational courses such as ND's and A Levels, all in subjects related to the arts. All the course tutors and professionals in their own subject, but I will not go into too much detail about the courses as they are all so different, however I will say that most of them are practical in nature and all have specialist facilities within the campus.
The campus has good facilities, all of them are available to any student provinding you have participated in the appropriate health and safety training so whatever you choose to study you are able to access all the facilities which include: digital and wet print photography facilities and studios, full AV facilities including edit suites and a TV studio and radio gallery (there is also a library like facility to loan out any equipment for example, cameras that you might need), dance and theatre studios and a full size black box theatre, newsroom (which produces a student newspaper both in print and online) and also an impressively stocked library, with helpful staff and photocopying facilities. There is also a decent and reasonably priced refectory and a student car park. The Institute's shop is also woth mentioning as it stocks all the supplies you might need for your course and it also offes a cash back service if you pay by debit card - this is good as there is no cash-machine on site.There is little in the way of clubs and societies - an active Christian Union and Football team are really the only ones worth mentioning, but this does not really affect enjoyment, plenty of people do plenty of things but just do not form a society to do it. There is however, a student union so it is possible to form any society that you wish. In a way, it is this lack of typical "student things" which is the let down, there is no student union bar on campus, probably because being only the size of the average university faculty it is just too small to sustain one, however the nearby St Martins College has one and the is a wealth of pubs and bars in the town.
Nightlife is adequate although nothing to write home about, Carlisle is a small city with several nightclubs and a selection of bars and pubs, and live music/gig venue ( which is starting to take off http://www.brick-yard.com). There are several growing indie nights Antics (http://www.ourantics.co.uk) and Sally (http://www.clubsally.com) which have started to fulfuill a growing need for music based nightlife in the city (as opposed to the cheese/dance/pop). Aside from those there are all the regular chains such as Walkabout, The Office and Lloyds Bar, and lots of different pubs. The nightclubs in the town vary from the cheesy (Club XS to the "classy" - Concrete) and there should be something to suit everyone, but, be warned... Carlisle is not somewhere that you would go just for the nightlife, but as with the rest of Carlisle - the nightlife is SO CHEAP!Like the nightlife, the accommodation is cheap too, with a room in the on campus halls setting you back less than £60 per week (this is expensive by Carlisle's standards) if you don't make it into the Halls - there are only enough places for about 2/3 of the first year, then the accomodation office will help you find appropriate accomodation in the private sector, all of which is within walking distance of the campuses and city centre, prices range from £35 per week to £60 per week with everything from one person flats, bedsits to ten room houses been available. Most of the accomodation, which is plentiful is of a decent to high standard, and is located in a relatively safe and crime free region - overall Carlisle is a pleasant and safe place to live, and even as a lone female I was not afraid to walk around late at night. The Institute provides an accomodation list, with approved houses and landlords and offers advice on finding accomodation, should that be needed. Also provided is a list of Dentists and Doctors that are willing to take students onto their register.
Cumbria Institute of the Arts also provides a "buddy" system where prospective students are contacted by current students to make sure they have all the information that they need and to ensure that upon arrival in Carlisle for Freshers' week (an organised week of activities for 1st years) they have a friendly face looking out for them. However as it is such a small place, with an annual intake of about 300 freshers, it won't be long before you know everyone anyway.The Institute is also ideally located for people who enjoy outdoor and countryside actvities and the city is pleasant, clean and quite green with ample sports and gym facilities, which are cheap for students, it's small so you can walk everywhere and the people are friendly. Part time and holiday work are plentiful, in the city's shops and bars and so you can almost guarantee yourself a part time job. The three major supermarkets (Tesco, Asda and Morrisons) all have branches within the city, although from some, depending on where you live you may need a taxi back with your shopping, and there is a plethora of discount food outlets (Netto, Lidl and Aldi) if that's what you want.
Overall, Cumbria Institute of the Arts is a well equipped (it has amazing facilities), modern and friendly institution, with all the necessary local amenities and it's very cheap and safe to be a student in Carlisle, you can have a good time, there are easy rail links to Newcasle, Manchester and Glasgow (and the rest of the country) but the city and Institute (which is more like a faculty than a university) are perhaps not big enough to offer the stereotypical "university experience". But, nevertheless, it's well worth a look.
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Listed on Ciao since: 16/08/2005