Overseas university spotlight: Northumbria University (UK)
Updated: May 22
Set in the 'capital of the northeast' in Newcastle, England--where one-sixth of the population during term time are students--Northumbria University is a modern, comprehensive university in a great location.
Here are some of the highlights from my visit in May 2022!
One of the first things you'll notice about Newcastle is that it's super easy to get around; you can pretty much walk anywhere--the main train station, the river, student housing, etc.--within 20 minutes.
Speaking of the river, the quayside was my favorite part of the city--maybe because it reminded me of the riverfront in Cincinnati where I grew up.
Like Cincinnati, Newcastle is also a city of bridges, and travel enthusiasts may note that the Tyne Bridge in particular (below) looks strikingly similar to one Sydney Harbour Bridge (they were actually designed by the same London firm!).
It's also here that you'll find an outdoor market on Sundays, an art museum, loads of options for food and drink and a huge redevelopment that will bring a new look to the area in the shape of a £260 million waterfront conference and events venue in 2023.
And though they're not super original with their naming of places, there's even a beautiful beach town called Tynemouth that's easily accesible for students, just 15 minutes from the city by metro (it's literally located at the mouth of river Tyne; get it? Ha!).
One place that's just a bit farther out is the famous Angel of the North statue right off the A1 highway, which, like most new things, was controversial when it first went up in 1998.
Locals later grew to appreciate it, even somehow adding a massive Alan Shearer jersey at one point!
I liked what the sculptor of the statue, Antony Gormley, said of it though:
"The angel has three functions - firstly a historic one to remind us that below this site, coal miners worked in the dark for two hundred years; secondly to grasp hold of the future, expressing our transition from the industrial to the information age; and lastly to be a focus for our hopes and fears - a sculpture is an evolving thing."
Insightful and inspiring!
Newcastle is also quite a historical city and actually got its name from the medieval castle that still remains today.
With 26,000 students and a 16:1 student to staff ratio, Northumbria Uni is located right in the city with a campus that's super easy to navigate.
Granted university status in 1992, Northumbria has a history that actually dates back to the late 1800s when it started as a school of design.
Nowadays, its practice-led programs in art and design are some of the uni's most popular courses, not to mention the outstanding facilities this faculty has to offer.
What I found particularly of interest is that the student projects are also socially relevant; for example, we got to see a poster series on Ukraine sentiments.
Sports science is another popular area of study; the academics were super engaging and showed us some examples of the equipment used by students to put theory into practice and also how they help local athletes with things like rehab, recovery, training and nutrition.
And for any student-athletes out there, it's worth noting that both undergrad and grad school applicants from the U.S. are eligible for sports scholarships (even if their NCAA eligibility has expired); Northumbria actually recruits quite a few Americans to play basketball or volleyball as master's students.
For those who are serious about a possible career/future in soccer, you'll definitely want to check out the i2i International Soccer Academy at Northumbria, one of the top soccer development programs.
Students in this program study a degree at Northumbria and are simultaneously coached by UEFA qualified coaches and often former pros.
They train five days a week for nine months, during which time they're competing in the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) league (the NCAA equivalent in the UK) as well as against professional and semi-professional teams--such a unique experience!
Not all UK universities offer catered accommodation (housing with meal plans), but Northumbria does offer one residence hall with this option, a feature that's often very important to many Americans!
Northumbria University: Summary
Northumbria Uni is a young, innovative university focused on providing students with practical experiences to best prepare them for the modern workplace.
It regularly ranks highly on the Times Higher Education list of the top young universities in the UK and also happens to be one of the more flexible overseas institutions when it comes to admitting U.S. high school students.
Here, applicants can apply on a test-optional basis.
Students also love the location in Newcastle, voted as one of the UK's best student cities, and it's easy to see why.
It's vibrant, affordable, historical, friendly and fun.
And really, what's not to love about a Geordie accent?!