North South divide influences two thirds of University Applicants

Nearly two thirds of prospective students are influenced by the north-south divide when it comes to applying to universities.

Research conducted by The Student Room, an online forum for students, showed that almost 62% of students would prefer to study in the South, compared to just 38% who would rather study in the North.

Reasons for the disparity included a belief that universities in the south had lower crime rates, fairer weather and a better academic reputation.

The cities of Bradford, Hull and Birmingham ranked the lowest with students, with high crime levels rated highly on the list of factors, followed by a reputation for “being boring”.

Hannah Morrish, university community manager at The Student Room, said:

“Old-fashioned ideas about the ‘grim north’ and the ‘posh south’ might seem tongue in cheek but it’s clear from our research that geography still plays a part in shaping social mobility and young people’s confidence about the future.”

According to the study of 2700 prospective students, the reputation of a city greatly influences university choice, with two thirds stating that a bad reputation would put them off attending a university.

The two largest factors given for choosing the study up north were the cost of living and the eagerness to flee the nest.

Nearly 54% of students listed cheaper living costs as the most important reason for their decisions, and 33% listed getting away from home as a decisive factor.

Only 12% of those choosing to study in the south felt fleeing the nest was an influence in their decision, with nearly two thirds wanting to stay close to home.

Students who chose to study up north did so also because of the perceived idea that “northerners were more friendly”.

Natasha Farrington, a third-year History student from Manchester, wasn’t surprised to see evidence of a divide.

“I do think there is a divide, due to the ingrained perceptions of the north and south,” she said.

“Although steeped in generalisation, there is an opinion that the south is better, posher. If you’ve lived a middle class life in the south, the ‘grimey’ perception of the north may not appeal when wanting to increase your prospects for the future.”

On the other hand, Charlotte Carey, a third-year PPE student from London, found the survey to be shocking.

“The results of this survey are surprising to me as other than the odd quip, I didn’t realise such stereotypes played such a role in which universities students applied to,” she said.

“For me, academic reputation and the specifics of the course were the most important factors. I was also quite keen to move away from home, and the prospect of £2.50 doubles was definitely appealing!”

The research comes with just over a month until the UCAS university application deadline on January 15, as nearly 600,000 students apply for higher education.

Jonathan Chard

(Image: Thinkstock/AlexFinnis/BuzzFeed)

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