Why Doesn’t Exeter have a Collegiate System?

Rob Ede argues that we’re missing out

colleges collegiate system durham exeter university oxbridge

Your first year at Exeter tends to be your most memorable. The nights of drunken revelry come thick and fast, the work's a piece of piss and you’ve got more free time than the blokes in Exeter prison.

A key reason for this amazing year is living in halls.

This first year accommodation is great, giving you the chance to get some mates, attend posh dinners and play intramural sport. Meanwhile, nights such as Rococos “Battle of the Halls” encourage a rivalry to develop between the different accommodations.

However, once first year is over, that burning loyalty you had to Holland or Birks gradually disappears and you end up having little or no attachment to the place you spent all your first year at.

At some universities however, it is completely different. Institutions such as Durham, York (and of course Oxford and Cambridge) have long established college systems that become the centre of most students’ universe for their years there.

But why is college life so great?

To start, you develop a strong emotional attachment to your college (and its fierce rivalry with others) throughout your degree.

Your college bar acts as a social hub, the subsidised prices mean you get dirt-cheap booze and allow the different years to mix outside of societies.

You can go back to college and attend formals in your second year. While you have formal dinners at the catered halls at Exeter every term and almost all halls have a summer ball, once your fresh year is over formal events are few and far between bar the odd end of season sports dinner and society ball.

Furthermore you’re able to continue playing a variety of sports as you did at school. Unlike at Exeter, where the expensive AU prices and exhausting training times mean most commit to a single sport (if at all), you can continue to play a different sport each term, at a relatively high standard, for a fraction of the price.

Personal tutors stay in college, providing you with support and advice if your boozing starts to ruin your studies.

Finally, in your last year you can live back in college. It means you’re on campus and close to everything you need, giving you valuable extra time to plug away in the library making sure you don’t end up with that dreaded Desmond (Two-Two).

The Drop contacted a number of students at these Universities to ask them how college life had improved their experiences

“It's bloody great, spend most of my time in our bar with the lads, £1.50 pints are kind on my wallet and if it weren’t for colleges, how would I have met my smoking hot 3rd year girlfriend!” – Jonny Westwood, 2nd year at St Mary’s, Durham

“The rivalry with the other colleges is massive, we get a hundred people plus watching our big rugby games and the chants and songs come thick and fast but in the end it’s all good natured.” – Phil Clayton, Fresher at James College, York

“Everyone in the college mixes really well. Going to the formals or ‘bops’ makes a change from the clubs in town that get predictable and boring.” – Katy Finnis 2nd year at Somerville College, Oxford

It’s important to stress that Exeter isn’t the only top Uni to ignore the collegiate system. In truth, Bath, Bristol, Nottingham and the majority of others also seem to share the philosophy that halls in first year are all you need.

So will there ever be a ‘Lafrowda College’? It’s looking unlikely. St Luke’s is the closest we’ve got to copying the blueprint, with its own distinct identity and rivalry to main campus. However, while it might mean a lot to be a ‘Lukie’, for the rest of us on Streatham we are simply one of the masses.

Perhaps Exeter just missed a trick?