Everything you need to know about Royal Holloway that the prospectus won’t tell you

Just because we’re near London doesn’t mean we’re IN London

As an international student, I didn’t have many resources, so my main source of information on the university and student life was the prospectus.

I don’t feel cheated or robbed because the prospectus was so different from reality. On the contrary, I am so happy with my choice. You have to admit the prospectus doesn’t truly capture the true essence of being a student at Royal Holloway.

Since we’ll be hopefully (emphasis on the hopefully) returning to our “normal” campus life in September, here are a few things that don’t really add up to what the prospectus said.


Prospectus: “Founders is one of the world’s most spectacular university buildings and is home to our beautiful chapel and our famous Picture Gallery, containing Thomas Holloway’s fine collection of Victorian paintings. It also provides a home for 500 of our students and houses Founder’s, Dining Hall.”

Is there a better way to capture the mental state of living in Founders

Reality: Take it from me, I spent my first year in Founders. While it’s gorgeous, it’s sad when the small rooms, the poor state of the shared bathrooms, sad excuse for food at the dining hall and unreliable washing machines take up most of your on-campus living experience. The walls were thin, which wasn’t great if you wanted to study. You could open your window and look out onto the beautiful quad, but you risk a friendly visit from a startled pigeon.

The only reason I would move back is that it takes less than two minutes to walk to Crosslands.

Emily Wilding Davison building

Prospectus: “Available 24/7 nearly all year round, there is plenty of space to learn with more than 1,250 study seats and different zones to accommodate every type of study: silent, social, creative and collaborative”

Reality: I’m sorry but where is the “plenty of space to learn” on any given weekday? Non-existent. The only thing there is plenty of is the number of people pulling all-nighters.

Also, be careful not to piss someone off because you’re most definitely the subject of a passive post on Hateoway before you know it.


Prospectus: “Royal Holloway’s beautiful campus and the surrounding area are a great place to live. Whether you’re looking to live in halls or in private accommodation we’re on hand to help you find the right home.”

Reality: Yes, all non-Founders accommodations don’t make you share bathrooms, you have a bigger bed and, if you get on with your flatmates, you have pre-drinks set for the rest of the year. Is it really worth being so far away from everything?

Let’s not forget the fire alarms set off at odd hours of the night, the people who won’t shut up at 2am in the morning and, for those of you who are living off-campus, the trauma of trying to find a place in mid-January when everyone and their flatmate is house searching too.


Prospectus: “Creative student-centred learning is at the heart of our teaching style at Royal Holloway”

Reality: Ah yes! Because “creative student-centred learning” means putting students where they spend lectures furiously taking notes without absorbing information, base seminars off of readings at least 20+ pages long and create a degree more focused on passing assessments than teaching students something they are passionate about.

‘Student experience’

Prospectus: “The Students’ Union (SU) exists to make student life better at Royal Holloway and boasts a packed events calendar, represents your views on campus and provides a full advice service.”

Blue is the best VK flavour – fight me

Reality: I can’t fault the calendar remark. Really, I can’t, especially when I spend every waking hour just waiting for the moment I can down a VK again.

Sports and fitness

Prospectus: “Keeping active is easy at Royal Holloway with our on-campus sports centre and extensive range of clubs, recreational and fitness opportunities.”

Reality: Let’s be real, the highlight of every person involved in a sports societies was the ‘Come in you Kits’ SU nights. Also, the prices of gym memberships don’t exactly support the “keeping active is easy” claim.

‘The local area’

Prospectus: “With London just 40 minutes away by train there’s a wealth of entertainment at your fingertips.”

Reality: We get it, we’re a part of the University of London. It doesn’t mean you should advertise the “short distance” to London before anything else about the university because there are so many things more important than the distance to Waterloo station.


Prospectus: “Today he is the beloved mascot for our sports teams and is often to be found around campus, supporting our players.”

Okay but what is the deal with students and traffic cones?

Reality: I’m not going to start a Colossus hate fest because it’s always fun reading up about rival colleges stealing mascots and everything. Just maybe don’t include a whole page about him in the prospectus? It sounds more like something for the Wikipedia page.

Food on campus

Prospectus: “There are plenty of other places to eat on campus, from our newest venue, Café on the Square, in the Emily Wilding Davison Building, offering Starbucks coffee, sandwiches and snacks, to The Hub, which serves a wide selection of meals including gourmet burgers and cooked-to-order stir-fries.”

Reality: Going to any place apart from Imagine is a luxury. The only reason Imagine is on the list is because of the big chairs and those brilliant rewards cards. Otherwise, unless you’re meeting friends at Tommy’s or Crossies or you’ve had an all-nighter and are in need of coffee, food and drink on campus is a luxury only some are willing to pay for.