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PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2018 7:26 pm 
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Travelling to Scottish universities with loads of 'stuff' still could be problematic but otherwise it might depend on proximity of airports or train routes as to how tricky it actually is?
Also depend if they/you want to be close :)


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2018 9:50 am 
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Location: S E London
DS found the physics department at Oxford rather arrogant (for want of a better word). When we looked around the department there was no-one showing us around. There was one lecturer in the electronics lab, and a couple of very bored looking students who were supposed to be demonstrating an experiment but couldn't really be bothered and didn't talk to any of us looking around. The parents couldn't go into the talk, which is usually about why physics is a good thing to study, the course content, why you should choose them, where their students end up going etc. At Oxford the whole thing centred around what they had to do to get in. Nothing else. The admin lady guarding the doors commented to a colleague walking past that she had 'drawn the short straw' having to be there - in front of all the parents waiting outside. We did think that maybe all the staff were in the colleges, but the College DS had booked into see only had one (out of several) physics tutors there, who was totally lacklustre and once again only talked about what to do to get in. The physics department wasn't open for the visit day on October.

DS had dreamed of Oxbridge since he was 14. I could feel the disappointment wash off of him as we went home.

We went to Southampton two days later. It couldn't have been more different, with enthusiastic students who couldn't stop talking about what they were learning, and a professor who gave DS a half hour tutorial on particle physics because he saw him looking at a display about it. There were staff members everywhere, and the talk was taken by a professor who was so excited about physics he was almost bouncing and who kept going off topic to start teaching about something really exciting that one of his slides had reminded him about. DS decided not to apply to Oxford in the end.

He visited Durham in the summer holidays - not as part of an open day, but they seem to be happy to show prospective students around, mainly on Wednesdays I think. There was one other family there, and the 5 of us got the complete powerpoint presentation and tour of the department. DS also contacted a few colleges who also showed us around - usually a student


DS loves being at Durham, He is trying to decide now (at the end of his 2nd year) whether to transfer from straight physics to physics and astronomy, having loved the astronomy module he took this year.

He also loves the collegiate system, and has had opportunities to take part in a wealth of extra curricula stuff which is college based - he has taken up rowing and will be college captain for men's boat next year. He wouldn't have had this opportunity as he wouldn't be good enough for the university team. He also sings in the chapel choir, and last year played rugby, and his trumpet in the college jazz band.

Do feel free to ask any more questions!


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:35 pm 
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Joined: Tue May 05, 2009 9:26 pm
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2childmum, thank you so much for your post. We are going to Durham and Oxford next week so when we get back I will probably have some questions for you. It will be interesting to see whether we have a similar experience to you and your DS at Oxford. What you describe sounds very uninspiring. Personally I really like Durham but of course it isn't my decision.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2018 2:58 pm 
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Location: S E London
Just a tip for Oxford - the physics department has a very nice coffee shop on the same level as the room where they gave the talk (at least it was when we went.) The lady on the door didn't tell any parents who spent the time standing around as there appeared to be no-where else to go. Another parent told me about the coffee shop so at least I got to sit down and have a drink!


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:11 pm 
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Fabulous. Now that is a good tip! Thank you :D


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2018 2:48 pm 
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Joined: Tue Sep 04, 2012 6:27 pm
Posts: 626
My son is hoping to study Theoretical Physics in September. He finally chose Durham, with St. Andrew's as his insurance. He couldn't decide between the two until the 11 hour as he loved both. He looked at Exeter, Warwick and Birmingham too. They all have great physics departments and I was especially fond of Birmingham, as the department there was so friendly and they put on the best 'Open Day'.

Good luck! ☘️


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2018 3:02 pm 
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I'm afraid the impression from Oxford at the open day may be fairly representative.
Various and quite numerous experiences reinforce the less than caring attitude.
I'm sure there are pockets of humanity :) but as a generalisation it's more of the 'you are lucky to get here and if you can't hack it there are plenty who can' approach.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2018 3:23 pm 
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Some years ago my brother studied Physics at Birmingham.

He was offered a place at Oxford or Cambridge (can't recall which) but as the first in the family to go to uni, he said he felt out of place at the others.

Birmingham was great for him and he has gone on to a terrific and fulfilling career.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2018 3:53 pm 
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I think there is a better mix of backgrounds at Oxford and Cambridge than the press coverage might indicate. My impression is that some colleges are more mixed than others. Obviously there are still various issues but I think most people can find a group that they feel comfortable with, even if the majority are still from traditional Oxbridge backgrounds.

Perhaps actually the two are not unrelated but my biggest concern at Oxford is the lack of care and compassion. So many students are under huge pressures and I have frequently seen unhappiness that seems unnecessary and a lack of support from those that should providing it.

I absolutely recognise that this is a generalisation and that it's not unique in that respect.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2018 3:57 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2009 10:59 am
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KB wrote:
my biggest concern at Oxford is the lack of care and compassion.
Do you have some evidence for this assertion?
KB wrote:
I absolutely recognise that this is a generalisation and that it's not unique in that respect.
One of the universities regularly talked about on here has a dreadful reputation for pastoral care and we have two friends there who say that reputation is entirely justified. DD was warned off it by a friend who was there saying 'if you want pastoral care, don't come here'. However, just as I won't openly badmouth schools on here, because it might offend people, so I won't badmouth universities either.


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