Online Comment Editor Cameron Scheijde celebrates Bristol's world-class subjects, beautiful architecture and rich history.
“There shall be from henceforth for ever in Our said City of Bristol a University”
King Edward VII, Charter of Incorporation of the University of Bristol, 4 December 1909
When you drag yourself to your 9am, feeling a twinge of regret that lecturers have returned to work, spare a thought for award-winning Neuroscientist Professor Hugh Brady. There is no job I envy less than the Vice-Chancellorship of the University of Bristol.
First, there were the hall reforms. Then, there were longer working hours. Wellbeing was always a problem, and to top if off, the teaching staff went on strike for four weeks. If there was one man who needs a paracetamol and/or a stiff drink, it’s Hugh.
"29 of the courses that you can take here are among the top 100 in the world, nine are in the top 50"
However, whilst we drown in the quagmire of bad news and you continue to trek past Beacon house, gaze happily upon the Corinthian might of the Victoria Rooms, the Gothic splendour of the Wills Memorial and the Georgian glory of Woodland Road and be content in this knowledge: you attend a world-class University.
The latest QS world subject rankings can be interpreted and twisted by any University press office - but one message is clear, Bristol is pretty damn good. 29 of the courses that you can take here are among the top 100 in the world, nine are in the top 50 and three are in the top 20. We compete on a stage with the world’s old elite stalwarts of academia, Oxford, Harvard, Cambridge, Princeton, and we hold our own. I am privileged enough to study in the Faculty for Social Sciences and Law, where the school of Social Policy is ranked 16th best on the planet. Earth sciences also holds 16th position and anatomy and physiology is ranked 18th.
It is very easy to complain and moan about the imperfections of our University, and, granted, there are many. Ironically, one of the main things that tends to hold back Bristol’s potential to sit comfortably in global top 30 and UK top 10 is its comparatively poor student satisfaction ratings - and how the pastoral changes will affect this is yet to be seen. However, our overall student satisfaction is still 86, with some schools consistently scoring 95 and above.
We are still one of the top three Universities targeted by employers, one of the top five for research and comfortably in the top 50 worldwide. Whilst every University these days claims to be a “UK Top Ten” , Bristol can still admirably wear the title of a global seat of learning.
Away from arbitrary league rankings, Bristol is also an inspirational place to live, study, work and enjoy. It is easy to take for granted our surroundings but we are truly privileged to study here, having worked so hard for our As and A stars at school. The green spaces of Royal Fort, the imposing grandeur of our very own Wills Memorial, or the modern touch of Beacon House, our city has it all when we want to explore our academic capabilities and dive into our latest piece of research.
"Bristol is an excellent University"
The history of our University is similarly rich. University College Bristol, established in 1876, was established from the Merchant Venturers College that dated back to 1595. Some of the buildings on campus date back to the 15th century, such as the former Baptist Theological College on Woodland Road, now home to the Philosophy department. One of the principal founders of University College was John Percival, former headmaster at Clifton College, who used his connections with the principal of Balliol College, Oxford, to get support from Oxford University. Yes, we’ve been in Oxford’s shadow from the very start.
To link this all back to the QS rankings, Bristol is an excellent University and though everyone’s experiences will inevitably be different, I think it’s good to take time to look back and enjoy our privileged existence.