Newest Review: ... area, Forest Fields, Carrington, etc.) are located next to the Arboretum Park and famous Goose Fare Ground which in summertime (b... more
A City And A University
Nottingham Trent University in general
Member Name: bilbobaginz
Nottingham Trent University in general
Advantages: Good spaces for learning, friendly people, great location!
Disadvantages: Some cramped buildings, lack of technologically educated lecturers!
A UNIVERSITY WITHIN A CITY - Location / Transport / Accommodation
The city of Nottingham is the bustling centre of a major county, it is made up of several deprived areas and several areas of high quality housing and communal facility. One thing is shared across the entire field however, and that is an undeniable sense of community spirit - rare for such an area. Contrary to what you may have heard, Nottingham is a place of art, business, music, leisure and drinking. It is therefore the perfect destination for student culture to thrive, and student culture is as a result thriving, and is something that remains central and defining to the city as a whole. In areas such as Forest Fields, Sneinton and Carrington, and all the way into the city centre, competitive student accommodation can be found - houses and flats. The university is central, with all buildings positioned within close proximity of each other, and links between them plentiful. Convenience is the word; the immediate location within the city gives students the best chance of making it into lectures, seminars and workshops on time and in high spirits. This is all because of the trains, trams, buses, taxis, bike lanes, and walking distances; all of which are efficient and congestion free. Every NTU related building (not on the Clifton campus) is within 10 minutes walk of the city centre (Victoria shopping centre) and has multiple transport links around it - those at Clifton are only a short bus ride away, and the buses are reliable.
The city's landscape, at least parts of it, are heavily defined by the wide variety of housing available. As previously mentioned, less wealthy areas are littered with student housing which is rented at between £55 - 95 a week per person dependant on room sizes, type of area, distance from university buildings, distance from shops and communal facilities. In the city centre you're looking at more in the region of £90 - 140 per week. Most of the areas (Arboretum area, Forest Fields, Carrington, etc.) are located next to the Arboretum Park and famous Goose Fare Ground which in summertime (both) attract thousands of students, providing a natural habitat for experimental learning and the general use of free, open space. Tram links into Nottingham - directly to and past Newton building (central NTU hub) - are frequent and reliable. The wide footpaths and occasional bike lanes help walkers and riders to reach their destinations quickly. I feel that the complex link of individual services work is harmony the majority of the time to perform the task they are set. You can always rely on the services of Nottingham; it's only when something dramatic happens, like the building fire (across from Newton) that happened last year (2011) that you can expect disruption to your day - a very rare occurrence.
A PLACE OF LEARNING - Spaces / Lectures & Seminars
Newton Arkwright is the hub, without doubt. Situated directly on the tram line, this adjoined couple of structures acts not only as one of the main places for social gathering, but it also houses the largest collection of seminar rooms, lecture halls, and useable open spaces available anywhere within the university. 'Old meets new' - After a recent £100 million redevelopment of the university, both Arkwright and Newton were hit by hefty improvements to their structures and their interior finishes. Newton had a ground level expansion of its foyer area, into a massive open plan space of different levels and assigned areas: a food hall that seats over 100, two cafes, many laptop docking areas, free-standing computers, table space, comfortable lounge seating and purposefully clear areas for events (open days and final degree shows). All the external walls (not connected to Arkwright) are made from full-length glass panels, as are the ceilings, which give the place a contemporary, clean feel. Newton isn't just about its transparent ground floor however; sitting above is a ten storey tower with over 100 rooms for private sessions and seminars. The theme of glass and white clear walls is maintained as you climb the stairs or make use of the strange lift system - to operate, you type into a panel outside the lift what floor you want, and you are then pointed to one of six lifts on route to that floor! - Peculiar I know. I LOVE THIS BUILDING, its styling, its volume, its function-ability and its relaxed social feel. You can really knuckle down into your work in a place like this. The well-ventilated areas stay at perfect temperature, and there's no feeling of drowsy boredom, the struggle for concentration, as everywhere you look there's a gaping cosmos of airy, refreshing space. The staff are friendly and the food is reasonably priced, I really have anything negative to say about the building at all.
Arkwright is the adjoining structure, and it is completely different, and at the same time quite similar. It is a 200 year old grade listed building that, after being partially destroyed in WWII by first a bomb and then fire, was in dire need of repair for a long while before (at the end of the 20th century) the wish was finally granted. But it wasn't until 2007 that it was returned to its former glory, with whole sections of walling and roof being rebuilt to the same style and finish as the original elements in the pre-war era. I also love this place, the 'quadrangle' court yard is a wonderful sight, situated between new and old elements of both buildings, the contrast is captured beautifully when sat on one of the many benches in summertime. As a design student I spend most of my time is Arkwright, in one of the large workshop rooms at either end of the courtyard (upstairs and down). The same clear, white, airy feel as Newton is continued and it works really well when you walk between one building and the next.
Other buildings which make up sections of the university are not such joyous places to spend time contemplating projects and meeting people to discuss work related queries. Maudslay building (connected, incidentally, via a walk-bridge from Arkwright) is a dilapidated dark pit of a place with dreary corridors and several small seminar rooms. The lecture theatre is OK, but nothing special. The sad thing is, this theme runs through to other structures too: Chaucer (perhaps the worst of them all) is full of tight corridors and odd-shaped rooms - it's cramped, it's dark, and it smells. The library is a breath of fresh air (when you first walk in), with its four stacked floors all over-looking the foyer via huge balcony walls which run the inner perimeter in a circular pattern. Though initially a nice place, you soon realise the computer rooms often become heavily over-crowded with people making use of the 24/7 open-hours. If you delve deep, there is a lot hidden behind the scenes of these seemingly impressive looking buildings, but as a whole I'd say the standard is at least above average for the country.
Learning in the rooms/halls/areas/spaces I've described is both a fun and challenging experience. Lecturers attempt, convincingly, to use microphone and projector equipment, but always seem to fail - calling out technicians left, right and centre. I feel that co-operation between lecturer and room is rather one-sided. I think the main issue though, is lecturers not understanding what the hell they're doing - some (some!) of the staff are incompetent, they know their stuff with regard to the subject they're teaching, but they DON'T know technology. Metal panels with buttons that control lights, blinds, projectors, DVD players, etc. are items of mystery and misery to the 50 year old + lecturer at NTU, it's sad to say. Training is needed and quickly!
Besides the disappointing ('boots') library facility, I feel NTU have a good space-to-student ratio in which there's always somewhere to go and study with a good internet connection and availability of computers. Receptionists and assistants, as well as wandering lecturers, offer help and assistance to passers by, and the whole system of room rotation between courses is well maintained.
- Reconstruction of Student Union -
This space has been demolished and is currently under reconstruction. The home of SU social nights has been moved to OCEAN, a club on the other side of town, and the gathering spot for students and persons involved in university admin has been moved to Spanky Van Dikes bar opposite Newton.
A SOCIAL UNIVERSITY - Societies / Organised Events
NTU makes use of Nottingham's varied night life excellently. The student union is a body run by students for students, and the events they organise during fresher's week (beginning of the year), and throughout the rest of the three terms are sufficient in creating fun and enjoyment before/whilst the formalities of work endures. There are many societies which organise their own individual events for those after something less main-stream. Anything from paint-balling to fine art is covered (with everything else weird and mysterious in between). Organised events such as the weekly Saturday night trip to OCEAN club and the various fancy dress nights are there for the taking, giving students a chance to make use of any drink offers put forward. In general I think the social side to NTU is rather heavily focused on drinking, and should maybe branch out offering a little more variability in activity endeavoured. Whilst international trips are often organised by different courses, they are always expensive - in my mind over-priced - and lacking any real imagination. The lesson here is find a good group of friends and organise things yourself, skip university ran things (beyond the nights out) as they only limit what you can experience.
I love the city of Nottingham, its transport, its buildings, its shops, its nights out, its community spirit. I feel that NTU fits into the setting excellently, and though there are some things that need improving, i.e. lecturer training in use of equipment, layout and use of certain buildings, and social occurrences organised by the SU, all in all I love it here. I will be sad to leave in June/July 2014, but I know I will always have the memories of the place and the people - and the friends I made along the way.
Keep improving Trent, and you'll be up there with the best!
Thanks for reading.
Summary: A fine place to learn and pick up one of those degree things.