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Overseas university spotlight: The University of Sheffield (UK)

Students' unions make up a large part of the social life at universities in the UK, and at The University of Sheffield, it's no different.


In fact, Sheffield's Students' Union has been voted as the best in the UK for the past five years.


Indeed, it was quite impressive!


Here are some of the highlights from my visit in May 2022!


Explore England group (I'm in the first row on the right, 2nd from the end, in green!)
Explore England group (I'm in the first row on the right, 2nd from the end, in green!)
University of Sheffield artwork
Firth Court
Firth Court
Gate into Weston Park
Gate into Weston Park

Sheffield as a city


With 29,000 students, The University of Sheffield is located in England's fourth largest city.


But what's particularly unique about the city of Sheffield is that it has a much smaller feel to it.


It really felt like a city of neighborhoods.


Sheffield city centre at night
Sheffield city centre

Just 15 to 20-minutes drive outside the city is the Peak District National Park, a great place for hiking and exploring.


Football fans may also find it interesting that Sheffield is home to the world's oldest football club, Sheffield United, which was founded in in 1857, decades before the university!


But between walking, biking, buses or trams, this city is easy to get around, and it's just two hours from London.


Tram on campus
Tram on campus

University of Sheffield: Academics

Established in 1905, The University of Sheffield is a Russell Group institution and a world top 100 university with six Nobel Prize winners (including the inventor of penicillin!).


During my visit, I got to learn about the history department (where there is actually a professor from my hometown, Cincinnati!) as well as engineering.


Engineering courses and labs are located in the new Diamond building, which is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (with showers, so you never have to leave!).


On the left, the Diamond Building
On the left, the Diamond Building

Inside, there's a cafe, social study spaces, quiet study spaces, a makerspace, classes and labs.


Robotics exam in progress
Robotics exam in progress
iForge student makerspace
Student engineering building study spaces

I got to participate in a taster lab with the materials engineering department.


Haley and me!
Haley and me!

I also learned that in the department of music, there is a new purpose-built, state-of-the-art facility for instrumental lessons, practice, small-scale rehearsals and sound recording, and it is a certified Steinberg Training Centre.


Soundhouse
Soundhouse

Sheffield's campus


As you'll note from some of the photos that many campus buildings are built from brick, Sheffield is considered one of the UK's six original 'red brick universities'.


University of Sheffield buildings
University of Sheffield buildings
University of Sheffield red brick buildings
University of Sheffield red brick building
Firth Court

Located about a 15-minute walk from the city centre, nowadays, the campus has a good mix of old and modern buildings, including the aforementioned Students' Union, which has its own club, bars, study spaces, cafes and shops.


Sheffield's Students' Union
Sheffield's Students' Union
Underpass in front of the Students' Union
Underpass in front of the Students' Union
Tea Society!
Tea Society!

During my visit, I was fortunate to be able to participate in a Tea Society gathering and sample a few different teas and biscuits while having a nice chat with students.


They really want to make sure that everyone has a friend, and even for students who are shy, they believe that sampling different teas can work as a great conversation starter.


Coffee shop
Coffee shop
SSiD at Sheffield
All the kinds of student support offices
Nice views from the Students' Union study spaces
Nice views from the Students' Union study spaces
The View Deli
Love this initiative
Love this initiative
Inside the Students' Union
Inside the Students' Union

Another initiative I thought was amazing is the newly opened Swap Shop, a completely cashless store to promote sustainability; students can get a new article of clothing simply by donating another.


Sheffield's Swap Shop

Sheffield's campus is located right next to Weston Park, one of the prettiest places and a wonderful spot to relax, study or soak up some sun.


Weston Park, right near campus
Weston Park, right near campus
Weston Park and Firth Court
Weston Park
Memorial near campus
Weston Park Museum
Weston Park Museum

In the Arts Tower, one of the tallest academic buildings in the UK, new students will also be delighted to discover one of the only remaining Paternoster elevators, which is a lift in continuous motion with no doors.


It sure would make going to class even more exciting!


The Arts Tower
The Arts Tower
Riding the Paternoster Lift
Riding the Paternoster Lift

Recognized as top employer for LGBTQ+ workplace equality (11th in the UK in 2020 overall and #1 Trans Inclusive Employer two years in a row), Sheffield is also a very inclusive campus with dedicated LGBTQ+ support and gender-neutral restrooms.


Inclusivity on campus

Students wanting to live in university housing will have a bit of a walk though; it's approximately 20 minutes up a mild hill when leaving campus.


On the other hand, at least getting to campus (downhill) when you're running late in the morning is easier, right?!


Weston House Library, used mostly by graduate students
Weston House Library, used mostly by graduate students
Steps near Firth Court
Bikes and campus art
Sheffield campus
John's Van (a food truck icon)
John's Van (a food truck icon)
Information Commons
Sheffield buildings

One thing I found really interesting was the number of repurposed buildings acquired by the university and used for different purposes than when originally built.


Below, you'll see St. George's Church, which is now home to a lecture theatre and university housing.


Imagine living in a former church!?


This is actually now a lecture theatre and student housing!
St. George's Church

How about studying and performing in a former church?


Sheffield's Drama Studio opened in 1970 and is the former Glossop Road Baptist Church.


Drama Studio in an old church

Campus safety is also a priority; there is a Women's Minibus service that will drop women off at their front doors (as long as it's within two miles of the Students' Union) seven days a week during term time for as little as £1.


This bus does late-night drop-offs for women seven nights a week during term time, offering a ride straight to your front door from as little as £1.
Women's Minibus

The University of Sheffield: Summary


I didn't know what to expect from Sheffield as a city and also university, but I was really surprised and impressed by both (especially the Students' Union and types of support available).


The students were all super down to earth and friendly, and it has a very active, bike-friendly campus and welcoming culture alongside highly regarded, research-focused courses.


Explore England group at the University of Sheffield

 

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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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