University of Surrey Open Day

Arriving at the open day was a breeze, we managed to park directly outside the main entrance. The university has a massive car park which was free to park in and meant we did not walk far at all. Once we arrived we had a really swift check in, no queuing at all! We dropped off our registration bar code in a box and collected a campus map. My first and initial impressions were good, there is a lovely fountain water feature at the entrance.

We headed over to the “Innovation of Health Learning Laboratory” aka the science labs. The foyer was bright and cheerful, with a clean feel to it. We booked our self onto the next lab tour, which was unfortunately 30 minutes away. So we decided to take a quick browse at one of the Band D accommodation rooms first. I was actually surprised to see how big the rooms were, they were huge! Each room had a proper desk, that is large enough to spread out all my paperwork on! The en-suites were also much larger than I expected, with nice showers. I was pleasantly surprised by the standard of accommodation, it certainly is a lot better than the accommodation in other universities I have viewed. However the price of the accommodation was unknown, it didn’t say on the door or in any booklet I had picked up. Based on accommodation I have seen in other universities I expect it is quite high.

After checking out one set of accommodation we went back to the venue for our tour of the science lab. After the whole organised booking and receiving a ticket they didn’t even ask to see the ticket, which makes me think I could have got onto the earlier tour with out booking in the first place, never mind! The tour of the lab, wasn’t really a tour so to speak more of a viewing. I say it wasn’t a tour because we only went into one room, it wasn’t exactly a tour of the facilities more of a viewing of one room. The laboratory room seemed rather vast and could hold 200 students at one time, it was also very modern. The laboratory had only been opened in February, so it certainly did have a new fresh style to it. I had ago at one of the practical demonstrations, which was a fake urine analysis. The lady doing it said the practical was from the biochemistry course, however I would have argued it was more biomedical science instead. They also had a rather interesting mobile phone samples, where they had grown all sorts of bacteria and fungi from volunteers phones. There was also some sort of pond dipping/lake water type demonstration going on, which was part of the ecology module in biological science. While in the lab we got to wear the classic white lab coat and had to disinfect our hands on exit, which is standard protocols.

From the tour we headed straight out and other to a talk which was on “Biosciences, Microbiology and Veterinary Biosciences.” The talk itself was very good, the lecturer was hilarious and really captivated the audiences attention. I certainly didn’t get bored during the talk and I actually had fun! The only thing I can say is that the talk did appear to have more of a biochemistry focus, the lecturer was a biochemist and 3 of the 4 students helping out were doing biochemistry. Both microbiology and veterinary biosciences were barely touched upon, with just a quick over brief. There also appeared to be quite an emphasis on doing a year in industry or a placement year, which the university will find for you.

Once the talk was over, we went to the on campus shop to buy lunch…to find they had ran out of sandwiches! We then had to trek around the campus and eventually found another cafe to eat. The cafe was full of the student ambassadors which made me feel a little awkward as I felt like we were not suppose to be there. Not only that the food was poor, my sandwich was vaguely edible and my mocha was more of an overly sweet hot chocolate.

We then decided to explore the campus more on what I believe some people would call a “self-guided tour”. The overall buildings did look a little untidy here and there, with a few coats of paint required or that might be me being picky! The library was rather odd, based on the fact that it didn’t start on the ground floor, but the first floor. However it did look like you standard library: plenty of study space, computers and books. However there did seem to be fewer group study rooms than in other universities.

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The surroundings of the campus were spectacular. They have a massive pond and water features.  The campus seems to be situated in a beautiful area, full of natural wildlife and greenery.

The student union was by far the worst I have seen, so far! There was absolutely nothing happening, the place looked abandoned and derelict. The entrance made it look like some dodgy kebab shop! I wasn’t even sure if we were allowed in to be honest, but the door did open. The place was messy and full of random cardboard boxes, almost like a store room. Feeling rather uncomfortable we quickly moved through the building into what I believe was the bar and student club. The place was called “Flirt”… not the best name ever, it sounds more like some lonely dating agency if I am honest. The place was very dark and had flashing lights of pink and blue colour, there was what looked to be a dance floor and a stage, which lead into a bar. The music was playing loud rap type music and the lights were flashing, yet the place was empty. The whole venue looked like the top floor of a multistory car park, the leather seats in the bar gave me an uneasy feeling. I felt totally out of place like we were not suppose to be there, so we quickly left. In the whole student union I didn’t see any nice cafes or a nice social spot to sit down and have a chat.

We then went on to view two more accommodation options. One of which was another ensuite which was very similar to the first one we viewed. The other one was a Band C, which basically means it has a shared bathroom. The actual rooms were again a decent size and had their own sink. The shared toilet and shower didn’t look too gruesome and not overly grotty. However this time it was the kitchen that got me! The sink looked like a trough that you get to wash your dishes up on a campsite. The hobs looked medieval and full of rust, the whole kitchen had a very basic feel to it.

The information fair was a large marque which had lots of stalls inside and free coffee. I collected booklets on all the bioscience courses. I tried to find out some information on scholarships and bursaries available however nobody seemed to know. It seemed to be a common theme that was running, nobody knew anything about the costs. Nobody could tell me accommodation costs, financial support available or even additional costs. It seemed like the finance department hadn’t sorted out their budget yet.

Overall I was impressed by the science labs and how well equipped they were, the talk was very good and the lecturer was great. The course itself for me is what sells it, the course I want to study looks very interesting and it is an accredited course, which is like the cherry on the cake. However through out my day none of the student helpers spoke to me, not one. They all seemed very shy and nervous, almost frightened. I didn’t get a very welcome feel from the university and I felt a little left to my own devices so to speak. There also didn’t seem to be many student helpers about, I’m not sure if most of the students had already moved out or they struggled to recruit them.

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