What your uni’s stereotype really looks like, according to everyone else
1000x more reliable than UCAS
There are some things UCAS can’t tell you: for all its satisfaction polls and subject rankings, the real-life uni sorting hat doesn’t actually have a clue about the unis of the UK.
What do the people of Bristol drink, for example? What do Nottingham students wear on a night out? How, if pressured, could you spot a Leeds girl in a crowd?
We conducted an exhaustive survey of UK students to bring you the definitive stereotypes of 30 of the UK’s biggest universities – then we illustrated them.
You can see the results below. And yes, Manchester is wearing a bucket hat.
“Blokes. Big, hairy blokes. I feel like they’d do medieval reenactments.” – Roisin, QUB
Practicality is the name of the game in Aberystwyth – the weather is dismal, and the people there are much more at home surfing and rock climbing and drinking real ale in pubs than glamming it up in clubs. No, Pier Pressure doesn’t count.
After all, why waste time looking stylish when you can brave the wind and rain in the best Mountain Warehouse has to offer?
“’I love your gilet, which team do you play for?’ No seriously, all you wear is sports kit. Posh sports kit.” – Bella, Newcastle
Basically Home Counties types who prefer hockey or rugby fields to lecture theatres.
Didn’t get the memo that Jack Wills isn’t a thing anymore, or that no-one outside of Bath thinks lacrosse is a real sport.
“Very pretty boys in sports kit at all times. And girls in sunglasses with massive blonde hair.” – Lauren, Nottingham
“Jack Wills and Ugg boots.” – Aron, Leeds
Brum is stuck in a timewarp, meaning fashion here hasn’t changed since 2011. That means that yep, the guys at Snobs will be wearing All Saints or Abercrombie, and yep, the girls on campus will all be wearing Ugg boots.
Seriously, Ugg boots are as intrinsically linked to Birmingham Uni as the chimes of Old Joe.
“Drugs and foul smelling vintage track jackets.” – Sam, York
“Red Stripe. Loads of fucking Red Stripe.” – Grace, Manchester
Does it even need to be said? There are certain things which allow you to spot a Bristol student from a mile off: the tentatively sipped Red Stripes at Motion, the rollie always in hand, the oversized vintage jackets on the guys and that pink puffer jacket on the girls.
More far out than their equally edgy cousins in Manchester and Leeds, expect wavy kicks you’ve never seen before and liberal application of glitter/scrunchies/piercings. It’s just the Bristol way.
“Bristol without the trust fund. Which means the same clothes, but unwashed and full of holes.” – Greg, Cardiff
Not too far removed from their big brothers at Bristol, UWE have a more laissez-faire approach to wavy fashion. Their trainers will be cheap and cheerful, their clothes will be low-key vintage and they’ll probably be wearing a siggy which contrasts with their battered old snapback.
Oh, and they might be smiling, which makes a nice change from the studious, poetic Uni of Bristol scowl.
“Blonde straight hair, MAC make-up always done like a MUA, including those big brows. Only dresses down slightly during the day. Lives, eats, breathes the sesh.” – Grace, Manchester
The girls at Glam will tell you they’re edgy, but in reality they’re just a little bit behind the times to make the cut: think Superstars, half-moon chokers, and a complete misunderstanding of the “dress like you slept in a bush” rule religiously followed in Bristol and Leeds.
The problem is, Cardiff students just really want to dress up, and that trumps the current fashion of dressing down. Not the guys, though: they’re just blokes, and they’d spend their whole lives wearing shorts and flip flops if they didn’t have to leave Cathays once in a while.
“Blazers, chinos, red loafers and a signet ring as shiny as your floppy blonde hair.” – Daisy, Manchester
“If you’re not wearing tweed and loafers, they don’t let you in.” – Lauren, Nottingham
You probably have an idea of what people at Durham look like: shining blonde hair, glistening signet rings, prestige pieces like Belstaff jackets and Hunter wellies and Russell & Bromley suede Chelsea boots.
Your idea is right.
“Peacoat vibes. But instead of the peacoat covering a sailor from bitter Atlantic winds, it’s hiding a bland pink Charles Tyrwhitt daddy has stopped wearing.” – Oli, Cardiff
It might be because they’re so far away from everyone else, but Edinburgh has all the hallmarks of someone who doesn’t really get it. Don’t get us wrong, they don’t dress badly – they just don’t subscribe to the idea of wearing running shoes when not running or sportswear when not playing sport.
They do like to dress down, though: they just do it baggy woollen jumpers, or travelling trousers from their gap year. Maybe college jumpers too, but that’s mainly because absolutely everyone here is American.
“You have money and you know it, and you want everyone else to know it too. You probably go to the Caribbean over the summer. You definitely went on a girls holiday to Marbella/Ibiza because you’re prestige. You drive a Fiat 500, badly.” – Sam, York
“They either wear a Superdry hoody and play football or wear a knitted poncho from Nepal and take acid at home.” – Lauren, Nottingham
Are you an Exeter boy if you don’t spend your entire time in flip flops and garish stash? Are you an Exeter girl if you don’t have a blonde high pony and expression of disdain on your face?
These are just a couple of the questions you’ll ask as you stare across a sea of identical St Barths-tanned faces in the Mosaic smoking area, trying to find just one person who doesn’t look like they were raised in a country pile in Surrey.
“Living in a squat but still using an iPhone.” – Tom, Nottingham
It’s an unwritten rule of studying at Falmouth that you have to dress (and look) like you found your clothes in the bin you sleep in. You might be the poshest person going, but are you an artist if you don’t have a nose ring and unwashed hair and a wardrobe full of oversized moth-eaten jumpers?
Probably, yes, but you won’t look as good in your candid Instagram photos.
“The King’s student will be looking immaculate on the Strand, leaning against Somerset House in their expensive neutral coloured jackets looking like they’re about to be papped. They’re not here to learn, they’re here to look good.” – Lucy, Cardiff
The students of KCL always seem to be wearing gorgeous coats – maybe it’s the tasteful allure of the big city, maybe it’s the high concentration of cosmopolitan European fashion bloggers, or maybe it’s just daddy’s money.
That’s why the KCL campuses are so chock-a-block with nice winterwear and tortured frowns: because if you’re going to protest, you may as well do it in style.
“‘Omg I love your puffer lol I’ve never seen one like that before where did you get it?’, said no-one ever.” – Daisy, Manchester
Maybe there’s something in the water of Hyde Park. How else could you explain the rapid deterioration of every Leeds boy from Ralphie-toting rah to greasy-haired layabout in a second-hand jumper to match the second-hand sofa they’re lounging on in their Hessle Mount front garden?
Despite Leeds students’ desire to be different, however, they’re basically all the same: find us a girl walking up Woodhouse Lane who isn’t wearing that Urban Outfitters green puffer, or tastefully faded mom jeans, or hair so pointedly unwashed they probably spent longer on it than if they’d just washed it.
“They put a lot of effort into their appearance. Usually it works.” – Daisy, Manchester
The girls of Leicester are preened, classy and effortlessly chic. The boys of Leicester? Their mums still buy their clothes.
“Everyone wears their hair in rollers constantly, everyone somehow owns a 2012 Herve Leger bandage dress (still iconic to be fair), everyone wears eight inch heels day and night. You must never ever wear a coat here. Ever.” – Roisin, QUB
“White high heels, bodycon dresses, rollers in hair.” – Marie-Elise, Sheffield
The Liverpool stereotype may be a tired one, but stereotypes exist for a reason.
No matter how much you spent on your new Gazelles, or how often you leave the house in travelling trousers with your hair in a messy bun, your Scouse brows and the faint smell of biscuits will give it away: glamming it up is your true calling.
“They live for sport, gains, sweating and activities, therefore a wardrobe consisting of Nike, Adidas and other sports brands is all that’s necessary. Normal day-to-day clothes not allowed.” – Lucy, Cardiff
“Just take your top off and tell us.” – Daisy, Manchester
Stepping onto the Loughborough campus is like walking into a dystopian nightmare, one where everyone is dressed in varying shades of purple stash denoting which sport they play and just how fucking good they are at it.
Unless it’s a Wednesday night, of course, when everyone will either be topless and painted as a Smurf or dressed to the nines in their Plus Ones.
“Wears a lot of Ellesse, and Adidas jackets, as well as sunglasses and bucket hats.” – Marie-Elise, Sheffield
Less out-there than Bristol, less dress-down than Leeds, Manchester’s whole look comes from a laboured, time-consuming effort to look like they haven’t tried at all.
Expect cheap-looking vintage jumpers and bucket hats they spent a lot of time and money on locating. Expect carelessly slung Tommy Hilfiger puffers they’d cry about if they lost it at Antwerp.
And, at Pangaea, expect four hours to be spent on glittery alien mermaid facepaint – at least.
“There must be a shop in Newcastle that only sells black, shiny puffer jackets filled with floppy haired boys holding Swingers flyers in one hand and a rollie in the other. I want go there.” – Daisy, Manchester
Everyone in Newcastle wants to dress like a house night DJ, but everyone in Newcastle ends up looking like a house night promoter.
Expect long-on-top haircuts, black puffers and trebles in hand on the boys (ankles always out), while the girls rock Roche Runs or Air Maxes paired with glossy track jackets and carefully selected crop tops.
Who said you can’t be edgy and make an effort as well?
“Imagine not selecting any particular style on The Sims. Anything on sale in H&M.” – Grace, Manchester
The Nottingham dress code is pretty standard, much like the Nottingham student: they might dabble in trainer fashion and the odd Adidas jumper, but they’re much more at home in jeans and a nice top (which they’ll proceed to remove on the Ocean dancefloor).
“Rarely seen wearing normal clothes, Trent students are more likely to be in fancy dress, clutching as many VKs as possible while bowing to Andy Hoe’s brilliance.” – Tom, Nottingham
Invariably topless, invariably on a fancy-dress night and invariably wasted, the Trent student as seen under the lights of the SU or Ocean dancefloor is a beast of habit who can basically be boiled down to one sweet and simple slogan: T-R-E-N-T, WE ARE THE TRENT ARMY.
“100 times edgier than Cambridge. The Oxford look is essentially what you’d expect your mum and dad to look like at uni. Docs, bowl haircuts, dungarees, shaved heads, backpacks, sheepskin coats. At Bridge it’s all very very oversized vintage shirts, while the girls are in chokers and Fila tops.” – Grace, Manchester
Not as nerdy as you might think but not as cool as they might think, the Oxford student teeters between boring studiousness and insufferable anti-establishmentarianism. Most infuriatingly, it makes them seem quite cool.
“Basically every girl at Brookes is a fashion blogger with a great camera and jeans which hit at just the right part of their ankle. How do they do it? Lmk.” – Roisin, QUB
“Really, really beautiful boys with really, really big jackets.” – Daisy, Manchester
There’s something terrifyingly Stepford Wives about the dead-eyed people of Oxford Brookes, with their perfect hair and their perfect teeth and the perfect way they can talk you into buying a Fuzzy Ducks ticket.
They’re Insta-stylish, they’re insanely beautiful and they’re instantly recognisable: because they all look exactly the fucking same.
“People here can drink A LOT of booze. Wear mostly green, but work hard. Lots of very wealthy English students wearing waistcoats and brogues.” – Marie-Elise, Sheffield
Has there ever been a greater gender disparity between the boys and girls of Queen’s University?
The girls are perma-fake-tanned Celtic goddesses, managing to turn even a jeans-and-a-nice-top outfit into a dolled-up extravagance replete with Michael Kors watch and brows so formidable you can’t stare directly at them.
The boys? They’re wearing GAA jerseys, drinking Bucky and contemplating whether they can go out without a shower.
“Very artsy, loves wearing designer brands, has a million photos of Founders on their iPhone because it’s the only part of campus they want to share.” – Sophie, Warwick
The girls of RHUL are always dressed impeccably, with selfie-perfect hair and nails and makeup, bang-on trend coats and perfectly chosen (if not a little overblown) accessories.
And the boys? Come on, you know there aren’t any.
“Too many Alex Turner wannabes in checkered shirts, ripped jeans and Converse or Vans.” – Lauren, Nottingham
Sheffield must have missed the memo that Northern unis were meant to be cool. Still, we guess shite shirts are fine if you’re only going to ruin them attempting the Rainbow Challenge.
“Still wears checkered shirts over T-shirts to clubs at night.” – Tom, Nottingham
Poor Southampton, still wearing Topman circa 2007 T-shirts because they think they’re living in Fresh Meat or the first season of Skins. They’re going to get a shock when they visit their friends in London.
“Everyone wears a lot of tartan, drinks whisky and plays a shit load of lacrosse/polo.” – Marie-Elise, Sheffield
Balls. Balls balls balls. St Andrews students live and breathe them, which is why they spend about 80 per cent of their time in black tie.
Of course, 100 per cent of that time is spent wrapped warmly in their Canada Goose, which they’re more fiercely protective of than their family coat of arms. Don’t go checking that in the cloakroom, now.
“Sussex students want everyone to know how peace and love they are, so they parade around in hippie festival hoodies in navajo print and brown vegan leather boots to match their aesthetic.” – Lucy, Cardiff
Wanderlust in human form, Sussex students look like they spend their days smoking spice and eating vegan and refusing to wash. Which they do.
“They still wear 2012 leavers hoodies at UEA.” – Lauren, Nottingham
“UEA is my outside shout for key fashion influencer of 2017. Look at Pimp My Barrow last year – inspired.” – Oli, Cardiff
The purest of all the universities in the UK, UEA are well-known for their commitment to fancy dress: the LCR is a costumed mecca, and Pimp My Barrow is the most important event on their social calendar.
Just, you know, be careful what you pick. Don’t want your sombrero getting confiscated, do you?
“Berets, Breton tops, stylish shoes, a ring of onions – everyone here is French and tres classique.” – Lucy, Cardiff
“Cable knit jumpers are rife in Warwick.” – Lauren, Nottingham
Is the remote campus of Warwick some sort of petri dish of hotness? If you’ve seen their rowers, you’ll know it is – abs like that can only be grown in the distraction-free conditions of the Coventry countryside.
Who knows. Maybe it’s something in the Purple?
“Like the Oxford student but cooler and less try-hard. You love vintage sportswear (only one item per outfit obvs) and probably own a pair of fuckboy glasses.” – Daisy, Manchester
It’s just grey, isn’t it? Everything’s grey – their neutral tone T-shirts, their faded jeans, their pallid complexions – it’s all duller than the tepid waters of the Campus Lake.
Still, at least understated is generally the vibe at Black Box.
Illustrations: Bobby Palmer