‘It’s classism’: Notts students on the Nottingham Trent vs UoN rivalry

‘I always avoid saying which university I went to in Nottingham because of embarrassment’

The rivalry between NTU and UoN has been around for years. It’s no secret. For many students at either university, it’s commonplace to hear teasing remarks about their sister institution, whether that be on nights out or in everyday conversation with friends.

But are there times when the feud crosses the line, when the competitiveness stops being innocuous and becomes disrespect?

We spoke to Notts students to hear their thoughts and experiences about the topic, particularly in relation to how UoN students treat those who study at NTU. Here’s what they said:

‘I always avoid saying which university I went to in Nottingham because of embarrassment’

21-year-old Emily left NTU last year with a degree in English. She tells The Tab Notts that she’s hesitant to tell people which Notts uni she went to because attending UoN seems to have more social acceptance than attending NTU.

“UoN is one of the most prestigious universities and NTU is a former polytechnic. I think NTU students feel looked down upon by UoN students and for me, even now, I always avoid saying which university I went to in Nottingham because of embarrassment,” she says.

Emily says she’s hesitant to reveal to people which university she attended

Emily, who now works as a reporter for the Daily Express, explains that this hesitation to disclose her educational history has expanded to the world of work.

She says: “Just the other day I graduated from NTU and when people in the office were asking me the next day where I graduated from, I hesitated because I did feel embarrassed.

“I do think this rivalry and misconception of inferiority/superiority affects people throughout their whole time at university and even in their future careers.

“Journalism is an industry dominated by people who studied at Russell Group universities. These stats are from a few years ago but a study found that 74% of the top 100 media professionals attended a Russell Group university… so you can imagine how worried I was when applying for jobs, knowing I went to NTU.”

‘My take on it is that it’s down to classism’

It isn’t just Emily who believes those who study at Russell Group universities receive more respect from society. Jennifer*, who studies at UoN, says she’s seen first-hand how the conflict can be “discriminatory” against NTU students like her boyfriend.

“People [at UoN] have been hostile or just ignored him for the whole time after learning he was from NTU,” she says. “At the NTU events, sure they’d joke a bit that I was from UoN but after doing so, they would move on to other conversations and not make the whole evening about it.”

Jennifer adds that she thinks this mistreatment of NTU students is rooted in wider societal forms of oppression: “My take on it is that it’s down to classism. The people who were discriminatory about him being from NTU were always affluent. We’re both from Birmingham, are working-class and have part-time jobs alongside uni, whereas they’d typically be from somewhere down South and could afford more than basics.”

‘When I say I go to Nottingham Trent, their tone and personality changes entirely’

Akin to Jennifer, James* says that he’s had first-hand encounters of rudeness from UoN students.

James, who studies at NTU, shares: “I’ve had instances where I’ve met someone from the University of Nottingham. When I say I go to Nottingham Trent, their tone and personality changes entirely. It’s so surreal because I’ve never experienced it before in any other aspect of my life.”

While James says he hasn’t personally experienced physical violence because of the university he attends, he says he has “heard stories of fights kicking off in town between Uni of and Trent”, which he finds “so stupid because it crosses that line of just being a bit of fun.”

‘I think it’s important to maintain a friendly rivalry’

Despite acknowledging the more disrespectful side of this conflict, James does say that a bit of frivolous feuding between institutions shouldn’t be discouraged.

He explains: “I actually think it’s important to maintain that sort of friendly rivalry. In some cases, it’s quite funny if you don’t look into it too hard. At the end of the day, it’s uni, it’s supposed to be a bit of a joke. That sort of stuff should happen.”

Emily echoes this sentiment that a bit of rivalry can be good-natured.

“More often than not, the rivalry is jovial and occurs in many student cities across the country that have two major universities. I remember back at uni you would always hear chants from UoN students like, “Your dad works for my dad” and NTU students would shout things back. But it was never anything more than a joke,” she says.

Emily adds, however, that some people “particularly at NTU, can take this [rivalry] to heart.” She suggests that people shouldn’t genuinely think that just because a person attends NTU they won’t amount to anything in life.

“I got a job at a national newspaper last year and I would like to think I’m doing really well,” she says. “Having studied at a former polytechnic, university did not hold me back.”

UoN have been contacted for comment, but are yet to provide a response.

Names marked with an (*) have been changed on the grounds of preserving anonymity.

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