I went undercover at Solent University and this is what I learned
It’s not actually that different…
The rivalry between Uni Of and Solent is hard to miss. Often resulting in many drunken conflicts and countless memes (mainly slating Solent).
There is definitely a feeling of superiority and distain for our neighbours. You only have to scroll through Crushampton to see what I'm talking about.
Even the boards at Southampton Central station proudly announce that it is "Home to University of Southampton", completely overlooking Solent.
Now, I know Uni Of has twice as many students (24,000 compared to Solent's 12,000), so we are a much bigger presence in the city, but I decided to go undercover as a Solent student to find out quite how different it is, and see if there is any truth behind the memes.
Their campus is pretty impressive actually
The main campus only has 11 buildings, which encompass most of the University. This may sound small, but it means it's significantly easier to navigate than Highfield Campus on your first day. My first impressions were good, the main building was more aesthetically pleasing than many of the buildings at Highfield – especially our abomination of a Law building (I mean, look at it!)
Inside Solent's Spark building, there is a large red structure, named Pod, which filled the space above, representing the University's focus on maritime research. The building is white, light, spacious and relatively quiet. There were also floating study pods, which are much more attractive than fighting for a desk in Hartley during the exam period.
But here's what their campus is missing
However, despite their cool buildings, there are still a few reasons (besides the career prospects, of course) for Solent to be jealous of us. Firstly – none of their food outlets are discounted for students, the prices were similar to Hartley café! There was no possibility of a cheap hangover-curing café breakfast like at the Piazza or two-for-one pizza like at Stags. I almost feel sorry for them having to pretty much take out another loan just to eat at campus. The lack of a union bar was also slightly disturbing.
They don't go to Jesters?!?
There was time for a quick chat with one of the students about nightlife before my cover was blown, in which he revealed one of the most shocking differences between us and them.
They don't usually go to Jesters! Apparently, it is "too far to go for a night out" , but they regularly make the commute for Sobar Tuesday…I personally think they need to sort their priorities out, but each to their own I guess. People also regularly go out in Bedford place…isn’t that that where Popworld is? It just seems like they're missing the best nightlife Portswood has to offer in favour of clubs notorious for 40-year-olds on a hen night. Though, in their defence, living in the centre seems to save them lots of money on Ubers.
Their halls – chunder charts and all
I managed to sneak into some university halls (Lucia Foster Welch), which were a good walk away from campus. They don't even get a bus pass included with halls! I was glad they had adopted many university traditions such as the chunder chart and having a stash of condoms in the communal kitchen. Maybe they weren't so different after all. They also had some new traditions, like a list of banned people from their flat (mainly for drinking offences!). Sadly, some of them were University Of – sorry guys!
The final verdict
While they have the luxury of being right in the middle of the city, modern buildings and easier entrance requirements (is this a good thing though?), we have discounted food outlets, our own cinema and over 300 societies compared to Solent's 55. Apart from the obvious differences in terms of our Russell Group status and often higher career starting salaries, there wasn't much else differentiating us from this uni we love to hate. However, whilst my undercover day was enjoyable, it was also very reassuring to return to the tropical conditions in Hartley library and dig into a student-priced sandwich from The Shop.