We swapped unis for a day to see if all the stereotypes are true
Spoiler: most of them are
The Tab Leeds conducted a bit of a social experiment by having a student from Uni of Leeds and a student from Beckett swap lives for the day.
They went undercover on each other's campus to see how the other half really lives, and if there's really much difference between the two at all…
I'm Tom, a second year English Lit and Creative Writing student at Beckett. Like your standard Beckett boy, I'm a fan of football and 'spoons (who isn't), and I can't stand southerners or smoking bans, things I'm told 'uni of' has a lot of.
I'm Esme, a second year English Lit student at Uni of Leeds. I love a cheeky glass of Pinot Noir, and I'll never miss a Wednesday night at Mischief. I've made a lifestyle choice to dress exclusively in Fila and Champion. For the record: I strongly dislike Tories and Pryzm.
Esme: I was a little bit reluctant to cross the red brick boundaries of my elite Russell group university and walk 400 metres down the road to the local BTEC competition. I was nervous and excited, as I've always been curious to see what would have happened if I'd failed my A-Levels.
Tom: So my first day of 'proper uni' left me feeling a little nervous. As I sat waiting for my guide on Parkinson steps, I was worried that I'd stick out like a sore thumb. I was surrounded by pigeons and international students doing photo-shoots all over the place. I took a deep breath and composed myself, reminding myself only 1 in 5 of these people went to private school, so there must be at least one normal person here.
E: There wasn’t a North Face puffer jacket or a pair of Fila Disruptors in sight. The girls seemed to actually brush their hair here too. I had hoped there might be some fit rugby lads for me to dribble over, but I was extremely disappointed by the talent. My biggest shock was the amount of Beckett merchandise people were wearing; were they proud to attend a poly?
T: I was really impressed that students here are brave enough to wear their decorating gear to such a posh institution. It genuinely looks like some of them covered themselves in Velcro and rode a horse through an Urban Outfitters sale.
E: Truthfully, there was little difference between my trusted Eddy B library and Beckett’s library; both modern and full of slackers. Although I did miss the big grand buildings on my own campus that make me feel like I belong to a long history of posh boffs.
T: The cafes here are quite fancy and offer a range of pastries, but the coffee only comes in small and large, which put me in a predicament as I just wanted an average sized drink. On a positive note, I have to say that I'm a HUGE fan of Old Bar; it's like a mini 'spoons on campus. If Beckett had that, we'd drink it dry and have karaoke on at every lunch.
E: I walked into The Rose Bowl, and it looked more like a plush cinema than a uni building. I felt like an outsider; I wanted Roger Stevens back. My first issue: where are the desks? Are Beckett students not expected to write? To my horror I noticed I could pull out a tiny table from the side of my chair, but it was so small that neither my MacBook Pro or my Chilly’s bottle could fit on it. I tried deep breathing exercises to calm my nerves, but all I could focus on was the lecturer’s podium with the terrifying words ‘Leeds Beckett' emblazoned on it. I kept mentally rearranging 'Beckett' into ‘BTEC’ and ‘ket’ and suddenly I felt a lot more comfortable.
T: The buildings out front are quite nice with all the pillars and white stone; I think it will look really great when they're finished. But what kind of crayon wielding ket fiend designed the Roger Stevens building? It looks like the industry zone in crystal maze, I was half expecting that bald man to jump out and lock me behind one of those coloured doors.
E: The lecture was a lot smaller than what I was used to, maybe 20-30 students. This did allow for a more interactive approach, and of course the mature students felt the need to pipe up every 2.3838483 seconds. Finally something I was used too, I started to chill out; maybe the unis aren't so different after all?
T: I managed to find a door that led to some empty space so shuffled in to the lecture theatre trying to be inconspicuous. The seats are a lot comfier than at Beckett, and they had actual work space! Onto a winner already. As soon as the lecture started, everyone started relentlessly tapping at their MacBooks. In between the incessant clicking, you could just about make out that the lecture was about some other dead Tory from history and how his genius will forever be unparalleled in the field of literature. I started to drift off, but I woke up straight away when the lecturer started teaching people about getting rid of poor children by killing them and eating them??? I knew Southerners were bad, but that seems a bit extreme.
E: The seminar leader clearly had no idea that I wasn’t supposed to be there. Then again the group was massive; I was used to the luxury of 6-10 students a group. They obviously favoured the oversized state school class approach here. We watched a film adaptation of the play for the most part, which was actually quite relaxing. Although it was very reminiscent of school lessons that were covered by lazy supply teachers.
T: In true Beckett fashion, I managed to bumble my way through this seminar without reading the book or preparing any work. There was a total of 7 people in the seminar, so it was harder to hide in the background. A lot of people echoed the same thoughts for about an hour, so I just joined in.
E: On the whole, Beckett gets a bad rep. And it deserves it. They might not know how to dress, they might not be as clever, but that's not their fault. Although the experience was an interesting insight, I won’t be in a rush to return. I was relieved to sink a pint in the safety of Old Bar afterwards amongst my uni mates, and thank the lord for making me so blessed.
T: It’s an alright uni to be fair; they've got posh fancy buildings and nice libraries to work in. Old Bar is nice, but it's ruined by the fact that it's filled with southerners. That alone is enough to put you on edge. It’s good for minor celeb spotting because if someone’s parents were famous, they’ll tell you within 5 minutes of meeting them. Uni of students will never know the joys of soaking up the sun on Beckett's park, and my heart breaks for them. Beckett may have its flaws, but everyone loves being an underdog, right?