Overseas university spotlight: Aberystwyth University (UK)
Updated: May 23
"Aber," or Aberystwyth, is a university located in the coastal town of the same name on the west coast of Wales.
It's an easy 5-hour journey from London with only one change in Birmingham and is home to about 18,000 people during term time, half of which are students at the campus.
But despite it's small size, it's definitely a place steeped in history; the university itself was first established in 1872.
Since then, it is known for having started the world's first Department of International Politics, founded in 1919 as a response to World War I (during which the town was actually a major base for troop training).
Nowadays, there are about 350 undergrads and 22 academic staff in this department, which attracts students from around the world due to its 95 percent student satisfaction rate.
Awarded the Welsh University of the Year in 2020, Aber is also a bilingual institution where the Welsh language and culture thrives.
In fact, His Royal Highness Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, came to Aber to study Welsh in 1969, which is portrayed in an episode of the Netflix show "The Crown."
Here are some highlights from my visit in May 2022!
Aber's Penglais campus is located in a fantastic spot about a 20-minute walk up / 10-minute walk down to the shore.
Note the "up"; this is because the campus is quite hilly. But it's worth it for the views!
There is plenty of housing on campus, which is guaranteed for all years of the degree, and even more attractive is the international accommodation offer: international students can live in the dorms at Cwrt Mawr at no cost for the first year!
Other perks of studying at Aber include a free gym membership, internships available for all students, career service support for life, access to a business professional for entrepreneurial advice and an Aber card for easy dining on campus.
With castle ruins on the coast, colorful buildings and even a cliff railway, it's definitely one of the most beautiful seaside towns I've seen.
Within the above-mentioned international politics degree, there are some really interesting modules and activities for students, including a year-long dissertation in third year to specialize in favorite topic, simulation modules on the EU, a parliamentary placement scheme (4-6 weeks after end of second year), Interpol Society, annual crisis simulations and a journal run by students since the 1960s (Interstate).
It also offers one of the leading departments of history in the UK due to Aber having one of the five copyright libraries in the UK, the National Library of Wales.
Students can work in any of the collections and benefit from primary source analysis in their learning (imagine the learning experience being able to read original letters from the Prime Minister during WWI, as opposed to seeing copies in a textbook; history is brought to life here).
Other programs of note include art history (Aber is one of two UK unis and the only one in Wales to have a nationally accredited art museum) and creative writing (students experience a unique writing retreat to a country house in the third year and benefit from links with large publishing houses).
Aberystwyth University - Summary
Aber is a fantastic option for someone looking to study at a smaller institution in a place rich in history and natural beauty--at a fraction of the cost one would find elsewhere in the UK.
Overall, the student support here is outstanding and student experience ranks very high.