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Overseas university spotlight: Arts University Bournemouth (UK)

The golden sands of Bournemouth's beaches are enough to make most Americans take notice -- but there’s more to Bournemouth than just coastline.


Arts University Bournemouth is a small creative community of about 4,000 students, where collaboration is at the heart of its degrees.


Creative students write the scripts that the acting students perform, the acting students perform in the productions that the film students produce, and so on and so forth.


The result? Friendships with like-minded students from different subject areas, interdisciplinary experiences and a wide network of future colleagues across industries.


All of this, and the campus is just minutes from one of the UK's top holiday destinations.


Here are more of the highlights from my visit to Arts University Bournemouth!


Bournemouth beach huts
Bournemouth beach huts

The town of Bournemouth


Two hours on the train south of London, Bournemouth has long been attracting UK nationals on holiday (including JRR Tolkien!) to its seven miles of beaches dotted with charming and colorful little beach huts.


It was actually the first place in the UK to have public beach huts that could be rented out, and nowadays, there are around 2,000 of them, many of which are privately owned, too.


The first public beach hut in Bournemouth was in 1909
The first public beach hut in Bournemouth was in 1909
Beach huts at sunset

Bournemouth is also known for its sunshine; it gets about 7.7 hours of it every day over summer, which is ideal for beachgoers.


Bournemouth pier

Whether it's walking up and down the piers, taking a spin on the ferris wheel, checking out the oceanarium or playing amusement games, there is plenty to do along the coast if just staying put in the sand is not for you.


Bournemouth ferris wheel
Bournemouth pier
Oceanarium
Amusements on the beach

The centre of town is also just a few minutes' walk from the coast.


And I say 'town' because, although there are 300,000 people, there is no cathedral in Bournemouth, so by law, it can't have 'city' status!


*Not* a cathedral
*Not* a cathedral
Clock tower
Shopping area
Shopping area
Bournemouth Arcade
Inside the Bournemouth Arcade
Inside the Bournemouth Arcade

I found my favorite little place to eat and drink coffee tucked away in the trees not far from the beach at a place called Picnic.


Picnic cafe
The view from Picnic
The view from Picnic

The name of the place is super fitting as well; they offer blankets to wrap around your waist while you sit outside and boardgames, too.


Picnic cafe

AUB campus


Arts University Bournemouth is located about 20 minutes from the beach, right next door to Bournemouth University.


My student guide said there is a bit of a rivalry between the two -- but also that students can share facilities such as BU's gym, faith centre and libraries, which is nice.


AUB campus

AUB does indeed have a proper campus of its own though, offering students everything they may need right on site.


This includes student housing, a cafeteria, a shop for groceries and/or materials, coffee shops (Costa and Starbucks), the Arts Bar and the library.


Student housing on campus
Student housing on campus
Arts Bar
Arts Bar
Arts Bar
Starbucks
Starbucks
The Shop

The library is really cool and happens to be the biggest specialist creative library outside London.


Looking for personalized attention? Well, every degree program has two dedicated librarians that specialize in that subject area, and they can easily help students find what they're looking for.

This is definitely a perk of attending a smaller institution!


The library even has its own streaming service that's free for students, so you won't need to pay for Netflix!


The library
The library
Inside the library
Inside the library
Inside the library

The library also features the only accredited museum in the UK with a focus on plastics, the Museum of Design in Plastic (MoDiP).


Museum of Design in Plastics
Museum of Design in Plastics

But one of the most impressive aspects of the library is the opportunity to rent out something other than books, something perhaps more useful to the creative student: materials.

Materials Library
Materials Library

The Materials Library is a collection of anything from ceramics to plastics, glass, paper, metal, timber and more, and the idea is to help inspire students and teach them about the various applications and properties of a range of materials.


Materials Library

But what would a creative arts university be without a place to show off said creativity?


AUB has a number of studios and galleries, hosting summer shows and end of year student pieces.


AUB studios
AUB studios
AUB studios
Inside the studios
Inside the studios
Inside the studios
The Gallery
University House; where many of the administration staff are based
University House; where many of the administration staff are based
University House

Elsewhere on campus, there is a bookbinding service and a print room, home to printing presses that are more than 140 years old!


Bookbinding service
Bookbinding service
Print Room
Print Room
Printing presses

In addition to lecture theatres and labs, students can also hire out professional-grade equipment, such as cameras.


Hire out equipment
Lecture theatre

The AUB Students' Union is where you'll find plenty of clubs and societies you can join to make friends outside of classes.


AUB Students' Union
AUB Students' Union

And for anyone struggling to pay their bills, they can pop into the AUB Sharing Shed to pick up some essential food items that have been donated.


AUB Sharing Shed

Lastly, one of the newer areas of campus is the Innovation Studio, a lab for prototyping and testing creative technologies and hub for start-ups and engagement with external businesses.


This helps the creative student monetize their creativity!


Innovation Studio
Innovation Studio

AUB academics


Perhaps the most well-known program at AUB, and most competitive admissions-wise, is film production.


Students have to submit a portfolio when applying, and there are usually around 1,400 applications for 150 spots every year.


It's taught within the Bournemouth Film School, which is an amalgamation of all the moving image degrees across AUB.


The idea is that it would be exactly what working in a real film studio would be like, with costume, makeup and creative writing students all working together.


AUB works hard to imitate the real world of creative industries within its degrees, so there's no need to seek out external internships or work placements.

The program culminates with around three final productions in the last year, with every student having some type of role in them.


Graduates are often referred to as the 'Bournemouth Mafia', as they are everywhere within the UK film industry.


Oh, and there's also a film studio a mile and a half down the road, too.


It's worth noting that AUB students don't take exams; all its degrees are practice-based, so if you only want to study the theories behind film, this probably isn't the option for you.


Other popular AUB degrees include Animation (perhaps the second most competitive for entry) and Illustration, which is the second largest degree in terms of number of students.


Drawing Studio
Drawing Studio

On the graduate side, AUB is also the only university in the world to offer an MA in Historical Costumes.


Costumes and other student-made models
Costumes and other student-made models

For high school students that want to brush up on their art skills before entering university or for those wanting to explore a few different subjects, AUB offers their own Foundation course.


AUB Foundation building
AUB Foundation building

My student guide, who completed the foundation year, said it was like eating at a buffet; in the first semester, he got to sample many different areas like graphic design and film.


Then in the second semester, students choose a more specialized pathway.


All students who complete the foundation year are guaranteed progression into an AUB course (including film!), which is an added benefit!


Arts University Bournemouth: Summary


Bournemouth itself has long been a holiday destination given its famously long stretch of pristine beaches.


But for someone interested in a practice-based creative arts degree, AUB also has a lot to offer.


It's clear how much they invest in their facilities; they want students graduating ready for the workplace.


From its film programs to fashion, AUB is an excellent option for someone wanting a more laid-back living environment within a close-knit, welcoming and creative academic community.


 

Interested in applying for college or grad school abroad?



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G'day! My name is Sara, and I'm the founder of College Apps Abroad and a Certified Educational Planner (CEP), one of only 40 CEP's in California and 300 worldwide. I have more than 10 years of experience working in international recruitment and admissions, and I've studied and lived overseas myself in the UK, Ireland, Australia and Brazil for almost a decade. I've also worked for some of the world's top institutions, including The University of Edinburgh, the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and The University of Western Australia (UWA)!

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