Advantages Accademic reputation is deserved
Disadvantages some accomodation is inadequate, lots of foreign students
|Shops & Banks|
I did both a BA and part of an MA at Essex. The campus is set in a landscaped park on the outskirts of Colchester and if you can ignore the ugliness of the buildings (60s brutalist architechture of the worst sort)you would be hard pressed to find a more attractive campus anywhere in the country.The accomodation ranges from the barrack-like towers and off campus accomodation to the modern and pleasant South courts. It is often difficult to get places in the better accomodation (and of course you get what you pay for). It is relatively easy to find cheap private accomodation within easy walking distance of the campus.
There is no problem with the university academically. It is rated as one of the top places in the country in many subjects, and has a particularly good reputation in the social sciences. In my experience the lecturers and suppport staff are generally helpful and learning takes place in a fairly laid-back and relaxed manner. Thhe library is large and well stocked and there is plenty of computer access.Colchester is a fairly small town which does not have a huge amount to offer in the way of night life. However there are several larger towns (including London within easy reach). There are a number of bars and Cafes on Campus which offer good value and a friendly atmosphere.
Because of its small size, the Student Union and societies at Essex can seem a little bit cliquey. Despite a previous radical reputation, student politics seems to hardly exist and the sports clubs are adequate at best.There are a huge number of foreign students at Essex. In many ways this is a good thing. The national societies tend to be the most active, get the best speakers (Last year Benazir Bhutto spoke at a Pakistani society event), and put on club nights. It also means that you will be thrown in with people from many different cultures, which for the most part iis an exciting and rewarding experience.
Essex is not for everybody. Some of the accomodation is inadequate. Often in the towers fourteen people are thrown together sharing one kitchen and a couple of bathrooms. Many people thrive in these conditions but others do not. The ugliness of the buildings means that life on campus is sometimes, in the words of another reviewer, like 'living in a concrete jungle'. The amount of foreign students at the university also has disadvantages. Last year I had the surreal experience of realising that I had not had a sustained conversation with another person who spoke English as a first language for about a month. Again, this is a situation that some will welcome but others will find difficult.My experience at Essex was generally positive. I learned a huge amount and made some good friends. I would not want to dissuade people from going. However, I would say that it is not for everyone.
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