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Should you go to a university without a campus?

King;s has a great location in central London but getting from one department to another can be a hassle. Source: Shutterstock

Come September this year, King’s College London will open the doors to its swanky new campus at Bush House, the coveted spot in the centre of London city.

The campus will house King’s many academic departments and serve as the centre for learning and social facilities for its students.

The London School of Economics and Political Science’s (LSE) new £350 million (US$460 million) 13-storey building, which will house study spaces, lecture theatres, and several political sciences department, will be ready next year too.

In other words, King’s and LSE’s students are finally getting a proper campus.


It’ll set them apart from most universities located in London, which tend to lack a proper campus.

Instead, faculty buildings, residence halls, and student’s private halls are scattered throughout the city, from Stratford to Watford.

While some may argue that there are “individual campuses” housing separate departments, it is still hard to call each a campus — traditionally defined as a particular area where a university and all its related buildings are located.

It’s a far cry from the kinds you see in American films like The Social Network or A Beautiful Mind, or even British institutions outside of London itself such as Nottingham University and Birmingham University.

It’s the campus, the centralised location housing everything related to the university, that fuels and feeds its student’s social life.

Waking up in one’s bedroom minutes away from the lecture hall or student union is a whole different experience from waking up in one located two 30-minute train rides away.

In a proper campus, friends and lecturers are pretty much on-hand for that impromptu coffee or counselling session.

People from different departments and courses cross paths here, communicating and collaborating, cementing those very critical lifelong friendships.

What then happens to university life when there is no such infrastructure?

For one, there is less diversity in the relationships students form. Holly Patrick, who recently graduated from the University of Westminster said:

“While it was fun meeting like-minded people on my campus, it would have been great to mix with students from other faculties such as science, law, and business as well.”

Students at Columbia University in New York are happier than . Source: Shutterstock

Speaking to The Guardian, Rosie Greener, a second-year student at Central Saint Martin’s says: “In my first year I lived in halls in Old Street. I found it a really lonely experience. You walked out of halls, it was so busy but yet you were completely isolated.

“You don’t put London and loneliness together because there is so much going on and it’s so busy. Before I went to a London university I’d never heard anyone say that it was an isolating experience, but now I find that so many people seem to feel the same.”

Indeed, the lack of a campus is one of the main reasons why international students in London are so unhappy according to the findings of the latest International Student Barometer.

But what one calls isolation, another man touts as independence. You’re free from a confined space and surrounded by people from all walks of life.

If socialising in student unions and having a circle made up of exclusively students isn’t up your alley, then London is the study abroad destination for you.

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