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Is Durham University actually a good school?

CollegeMintCollegeMint 13 replies13 threadsRegistered User New Member
Is Durham University a competitive and quality school? I just received an acceptance letter from them, which should have made me really happy, but it actually just confuses me. I applied to the school on the deadline January 15th, 4 days ago, so how did they have time to accept me already? Maybe it's just because it's a UK school, and they do things differently, but it seems strange. 4 days is around the time it takes a community college to make their acceptances.
I think what worries me the most is that I'm afraid they accepted me so quickly without thinking just because I'm an international student (and therefore full-pay.) I do not want to go to a school there's a bunch of dumber people who got in just because they've got money. You know what I'm saying? I mean, I know that at most schools money plays into the admissions process at least a little bit, but the fact that they apparently barely looked at my application bothers me. Especially because of this in my letter: "This institution regards you as overseas for fees purposes and their offer has been made on this basis." What I'm hoping this means is just that they expect me to pay full price, not that they accepted me because I'm international.
So anyways, thoughts? What do you think about Durham? How do they make their acceptances? Are my qualms justified? Good school, yea or nay?
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Replies to: Is Durham University actually a good school?

  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 6717 replies57 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Durham is a *top* UK school- it has a low profile, but you will find students who missed Oxford and Cambridge by *this* much (lots of them will have gotten to interview but not made it through)- and at least as many who had the stats for Oxford but wanted a less intense / more rounded academic experience.

    UK schools admit on stats >> personal statement (essay) > teacher rec. For all but Oxbridge and LSE, as an international student, if you meet the requirements you are very likely to get a place. You are right that money plays a role in that: international students are an important source of revenue.

    BUT: you will not find a 'bunch of dumber people' (a bit offensive that). For a start, only about 1/4 of the students are international, but more importantly everybody has to have the required stats, and they are plenty high. I don't know what subject you applied for, but as an example, for English the required A levels are A*AA- same as Oxford. 75% of the student body will have met those standards. The 25% who are international students will have also met high standards- those who apply with IB need a 38- again, same as Oxford. Obviously you have some combination of APs (mostly 5s) and SAT IIs (700+) in relevant subjects. Nobody will have less than that. So no, not a 'bunch of dumber people' (still offensive): you are just in the position- that some UK students resent- that money gets you a fast look. If you didn't have the marks you wouldn't have gotten the offer, money or no money.

    And: why did you apply to a school that you know so little about?!

    You should be thrilled. Durham is a great college experience - collegiate like Oxbridge, more flexible on courses than most UK universities, top drawer academics (top 10 in UK for every subject), but with a great social life as well.
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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 6717 replies57 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    (clarification: 75% will have met the A-level standards for the course that they are applying to study- not all courses are A*AA- I think the lowest is ABB (5,4,4 in APs). The big difference is that for domestic students, if there are too many applicants for the course you can have the required marks and still not get the course- they sometimes need *higher* than the stated marks).
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  • LongdistancemumLongdistancemum 28 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Durham is a top UK university and is very highly regarded. They accepted you because you met the standards they are looking for. While it is probably easier to get in as an international you still need to have a very strong application to be accepted. For UK students it is extremely difficult to be accepted.
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  • CollegeMintCollegeMint 13 replies13 threadsRegistered User New Member
    I'm sorry, I truly didn't mean to be offensive, it's just that the quick acceptance brought red flags up for me as I think the stronger part of my application was my essay and teacher rec, which I would have thought would take more time for them to get to.
    Thanks for your responses. I totally get what you guys are saying though about the international status being a boost, but not a way for every international to get in.
    And as to why I applied to Durham without knowing much about the school, it was actually a very last minute decision. There are other UK schools that I was applying to, and my guidance counselor recommended I apply to Durham as well just because there was no extra fee for applying.
    But now that I have been looking more into the school, I agree that it seems like a great school. I have been trying to get as much information as possible on it.
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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 6717 replies57 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Fair enough CollegeMint :-) If you got that offer, you are likely to have gotten others (obvs, depending on where you applied & for what). I am a big fan of Durham, and well done to your GC for flagging it to you- most Americans know Oxbridge/St Andrews/Edinburgh and maybe LSE. The location isn't as central or big as London, and not as far / small as St Andrews (town). You belong to a college within the university, so you have both your college and your subject group as natural 'homes'. And as I said before, they are more flexible than many UK unis.

    For any UK uni, though, I really recommend a site visit, esp if you haven't traveled much/don't have much UK/European experience. Winter days are short and accommodation is not as fancy as the US (and not always guaranteed, though international students get priority at least in the first year)!
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  • cupcakecupcake 1688 replies15 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I am not convinced that personal statements have that much influence on international student admissions because the vast majority I have ever seen are completely crazy compared to the norm. If it involved some US-style "journey" story, be glad it wasn't considered.

    So you have the cash and made the minimum grades - you're in! That's not the case for UK students. They might think you're a dumb person who just got in because you can pay.
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  • rasberylrasberyl 9 replies3 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Durham is a really good uni. And not all international students get in as far as I'm aware.
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  • versayseaversaysea 48 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Durham is literally known as the Oxbridge rejects school. The kids aren't dumb at all but it's one of the dullest places on earth.
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  • versayseaversaysea 48 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    And tbh 80% of UK universities don't care about personal statements for their domestic applicants, let alone internationals
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  • boomtingboomting 689 replies27 threadsRegistered User Member
    Durham is an excellent university.

    I would not let the fact that their admissions team has been unusually efficient on this occasion affect your decision at all. Typically applications in the UK are only read by one person, unless you're a borderline case, which means that there is minimal rigmarole to go through.
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  • cinniminnicinniminni 28 replies2 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Durham is a great uni and highly respected, so as long as you don't mind a lot of British posh people studying there go for it. It is a very small place though I should say (kind of a village) but set in a very beautiful place, and the train goes to even nicer places like York, Edinburgh, etc. Of course they might have chosen you also for the fact that you pay higher fees, but at the end of the day who care? Arent you being a bit too proud? You got into a great university and if you graduate from there, it will be on your CV. So who cares why they chose you if the result is the same? Just saying.
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  • cupcakecupcake 1688 replies15 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Wikipedia says Durham had a population of 48,069 people in 2011, so it's not really tiny. St Andrews only has 16,680. Oxford 157,997, Cambridge 128,515 (all values taken from Wikipedia, however reliable or not that may be).
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  • cinniminnicinniminni 28 replies2 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    That's where plain numbers can be misleading ;) So it's a bit like York, they count all the surrounding districts or in this case surrounding villages as part of the urban Durham population. But if you have not been to Durham these numbers are just out of context. Durham is actually tiny, the center is walkable within 15 minutes, there are a couple of chain coffee places and restaurants and that's it. Believe me. Personally I am a countryside person so it doesn't disturb me at all, but it's good to know about it. There is one cinema, and generally not much going on. Two museums, no opera, etc etc. Just be aware of it that's all.
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  • cupcakecupcake 1688 replies15 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I was at high school in Durham for two years. It's a metropolis compared to St Andrews and definitely not a village.
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  • Studento1547Studento1547 7 replies3 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Durham is a great university, it's up there with the best of them.

    To be honest, if you to to St Andrews, Oxford, Cambridge, UCL , LSE, Imperial, Durham or Warwick (only really for science and maths related subjects though), then you're going to one of the best institutions not only in the UK but in the world. You can think of them as the British Ivy league, of course they don't completely fit into that but it's just an idea of the prestige.

    If I was to compare Durham to a US institution it would probably be Dartmouth, not that well known internationally but extremely prestigious internally.
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  • versayseaversaysea 48 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @cupcake durham is literally the middle of nowhere. You're comparing it to St. Andrews which is known as the other really "out there" uni. OP I would not reccomend going to Durham if you want a decent night life. People go to Durham for the stellar eduation, certainly not the location.
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  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan 12668 replies29 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @Studento1547:

    ??? My perception is that Warwick is stronger in the social sciences/business.
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  • cinniminnicinniminni 28 replies2 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I agree. Sure if you compare it to St Andrews it's not THAT bad, but still... it does have a village feel to it, and as I said it does only have 2 museums (part of the university as far as I remember), and it just isn't...urban. It's a lovely and beautiful place so don't get me wrong, I loved it. But I know people who like cities would find it trickier to adapt to it. I am just saying this so the thread starter has the right idea of the place. Also, Durham has lots of train services so you can always travel around (easier than in S t Andrews).
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  • londondadlondondad 2092 replies61 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Don't worry about the quick acceptance. My son got 5 acceptances in less than one week.
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  • LutherVanLutherVan 151 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    The Ivy League of the UK is the Golden Triangle (Cambridge, Oxford, LSE, KCL, UCL and Imperial). They are the leaders in research, have amongst the highest funding, have both local and foreign prestige (they lead in international rankings) and have the highest graduate starting salaries.

    Durham and Warwick are hardly known outside the UK. St Andrews is not even as prestigious as Edinburgh. And Warwick is mainly only strong in Economics and Maths.
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