If you’ve ever thought of coming to Cardiff, one of the safest and most affordable cities for students in the UK; surely, the debate about whether to pick Cardiff University (Cardiff U) or Cardiff Met (Cardiff MU), must have come up more than once. There are numerous statistic sites and league tables out there attempting to help you decide; but in 2018, quality matters much more than quantity to us young people. It is no longer all about numbers and rankings, but rather, what university is the best fit for the unique and awesome person you are! Now, without further ado, let me shed some light about my first-hand experience of the main differences between Cardiff U & Cardiff MU.
And to clarify, by that I mean the size of the campus and the student population. Cardiff U’s campuses, Cathays Park & Heath Park, basically ‘own’ the city. They are beautifully spread out across the area they are based, with nostalgic classic architecture plus plenty of green fields and shades where you can sit underneath to cram your assignments, especially in the summer. The university itself has more than 31,000 students with about 7,500 from outside the UK; so you can technically friend the whole world if you really put in the work.
Cardiff MU, on the other hand, consists of two smaller sized campuses, with buildings gathering up in a ‘centralised hub’, nothing more than 5 minutes walk away from each other; therefore, a smaller student population. Though home to only around 11,000 students (just slightly more than a third of Cardiff Uni), they are not any less diverse at all, with roughly 1,200 students from 143 different countries.
The thing is, are you an independent soul, or do you enjoy seeing familiar faces everywhere on campus? If you like being acquainted to everyone, Cardiff MU definitely has more of a ‘community’ feel to it, due to its smaller size; whereas Cardiff U is best suited for those who live on new daily discoveries, be it the unfamiliar lecture halls or the new people you will meet every day. Either way, certainly, there are places in both university for you, no matter what.
The big decision – the right course
This is what you come to university for: becoming an expert at whatever field you chose. Cardiff U is a research-intensive university; meaning they invest about £100m into research and though it is not a ‘one size fits all’ situation, this might just be the best place for those aspiring to be academics. The fact that the whole of Heath Park campus shares the site with the University Hospital of Wales, simply shows the endless possibility for research and learning with or from experts in your chosen academia. Courses are very much STEM based (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) with some liberal arts and humanities majors. Thinkers with a thirst for complexity and curiosity for undiscovered theories, this is the place for you!
Doers, like to execute ideas and make things happen? Cardiff MU will help you kickstart your master plans! The university has a whole school of art & design where hands-on creative courses are taught with both theoretical and practical modules; plus a recently opened school of technology. Here is the highlight: Cardiff Met is well-known as the expert in sport education with a variety of ‘niche’ courses related to the sports industry, from management, analytics to the ones for those who want to become professional athletes. In short, most courses in Cardiff MU have a practical focus and aim to provide real industrial experience to students, usually during the second year of their Bachelor’s degree.
And last but not least
The co-curricular side of things. Yes, night-outs and fun are a big part of student life, but by final year, many would start panicking about not having enough work experience or engagement in university-based initiatives to talk about in their job interview. So let me give you both!
Cardiff U has an awesome student union and live music events with the appearance of many international artists in the past years (one of those was Jess Glynne). They have also recently launched Creative Cardiff, a university initiative to help the grow the creative community in Cardiff with a number of must-go events and networking sessions with industry-famous creative professionals. And to make it extra-appealing, Creative Cardiff is opened to everyone!
At Cardiff MU, the community spirit is further promoted through school-based socials, global weeks and trips for international students as well as the upcoming SummerBall, which by the way, happens every summer. Furthermore, being a university with hands-on courses like art and design or sport-related ones means loads of non-alcohol fun; there are exhibitions, shows or farmer’s markets created by the university’s own creative students and of course, sports tournaments! Plus, for our ‘doers’, the University Centre for Entrepreneurship, Parallel Society (student society for self-starters) as well as the Careers Service regularly organise interesting and useful events, workshops and opportunities to help execute your big (or small) ideas, whatever the weather.
Regardless of your choice, the biggest advice I have for anyone who is coming to university this September or the next is to create your own three-year adventure, no matter what size your campus might be. Make the most of these (potentially) best years of your youth to have fun, work hard but also try things you would never have tried before; because only then you can discover yourself and your exciting next chapter!