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York's most popular colleges REVEALED

Derwent still lags behind the rest

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Image Credit: Luke Snell

Vanbrugh is the most popular college for applicants to the University of York, a Nouse investigation has found. The college received 935 first-choice preferences in accommodation applications, meaning that nearly a fifth of all applicants to the University said they would prefer to live in the college. See the bottom of our piece for the full rankings.

Vanbrugh's success comes as no surprise: an investigation in 2017 showed a similar story, with the number of Vanbrugh applications dwarfing those applying to less popular Derwent. Asbestos reputation issues have not helped Derwent, and its ageing architecture and rent price (for those that want catering included) has likely driven away prospective applicants, in spite of Derwent’s many options for catered accommodation. James, another catered college, joined Derwent at the bottom of the list for York’s first preferences.

Vanbrugh’s variety of accommodation options have proved attractive to prospective York students: the college boasts economy and standard rooms, as well as a catered option, and several studio flats suitable for couples. Its proximity to large departments like Biology has also helped the college attract consistently high numbers of applicants year on year, in spite of its rather embarrassing college crest. Vanbrugh’s college chair, Vera Ivanova noted that the college was at the “heart” of the University, which likely helped boost interest during York’s many open days. “Everyone knows where it is.”

Another success story from Nouse research was Alcuin. Once all preferences, including first choices, have been totalled, the college boasts quadruple the number of applicants of its nearest competitor (Halifax) and almost equals the entirety of all other college applications combined, at over 4,000 total choices. Alcuin President Olivia Furness said that the college high placement was down to their “friendly, welcoming, and inclusive environment which prospective students feel from visiting”. They also mentioned its close proximity to the library and “great facilities” like their JCR and large kitchens.

For the University, a lack of Heslington East interest will likely come as a substantial disappointment. Just 21.5 per cent of all preferences asked for rooms on the sister campus, due in part to the complications getting there on open days, and the fact that many of the larger academic departments are based on the main campus. The University has attempted to increase interest in recent years, with dedicated shuttle services for prospective students, but past data shows that interest in Heslington East has consistently lagged behind its more populous attractive counterpart. The lack of interest in newer rooms on East will also challenge the University’s narrative that students are particularly interested in newer accommodation over cheaper, less glamorous offerings. With Campus West receiving nearly four fifths of all applications, questions will undoubtedly be asked about whether the construction of new colleges on the East campus will address student calls for affordable, accessible accommodation. These calls were vindicated today by Nouse’s research into price brackets.

Students are four times as likely to place standard or economy rooms as their first choice compared to premium rooms. This kind of demand is not reflected in the projected price bands of the newly-constructed colleges, and wasn’t acknowledged in Nouse’s interview with the Vice-Chancellor, where he said that students greatly preferred high value accommodation if given the choice.

We contacted the University, and asked them for their view on the vast differences between applications to the various colleges, their representative told Nouse: “Our experience is that at application students understand and value the College system at York and it is a key reason why many students choose this university.The collegiate system allows the University to offer students a range of rooms to suit different preferences and budgets. The University will continue to prioritise student’s preferences and we are confident that students get a consistently high service. Our system means students have the chance to develop a sense of College identity and pride whichever College they are in.”

Nouse's first-preference league table

  1. Vanbrugh
  2. Alcuin, Halifax
  3. James, Langwith
  4. Contantine
  5. Goodricke
  6. Derwent

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