University applicants would rather study in the South, study finds

Joanna Taylor 6 December 2016

Almost two thirds of students take the “north-south divide” and regional rivalries into account when choosing a university, research by The Student Room has found. 

Nearly 62% of the 2,700 students surveyed who expressed a preference said they would rather study in the south of the UK, compared to 38% who favoured northern universities. 

Reasons such as lower crime rates, better weather, and academic reputation were cited by students for preferring southern universities. 

More than half of students who favoured northern universities gave cost of living as their primary motivating factor. Less than a quarter chose academic reputation as a significant influence, compared to almost half of students who preferred the South. 

Some students said they wanted to study up north because “northerners were more friendly”. 

The research also suggested that northern applicants are more eager to move away from home than their southern counterparts, with 33% of northern respondents listing getting away from home as a deciding factor in their choice of university.

Only 12% of southerners felt the same, whilst 62% of them said they wanted to stay close to home. 

Most students surveyed claimed they would be put off by a city’s bad reputation, whilst a quarter said they had ruled out some institutions based solely on location or high crime rates. The second-most common factor for ruling out a city was a reputation for “being boring”. 

The cities of Bradford, Hull and Birmingham ranked the lowest amongst students. 

Hannah Morrish, university community manager of The Student Room, said: “It’s quite shocking to see how much old regional rivalries impact where students aspire to study.

She added that: "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."