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Overseas university spotlight: Wrexham University (UK)

For the city of Wrexham, the Wrexham Association Football Club and Wrexham University, the last few years have been exciting times.


Many soccer fans will know that in 2020, Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney bought the dying Wrexham AFC for the bargain price of $2 million (by comparison -- last year, the new San Diego team in the MLS was purchased for $500 million).


They then produced a documentary series called 'Welcome to Wrexham' on FX, which followed the story of the oldest club in Wales, its players and its working class fanbase.


Backed by these two actors and their investment, the team has since found new life, reinvigorating the entire city and community.


In fact, Wrexham AFC has even captured the hearts of many Americans like myself (I may or may not have paid $400 a ticket to see them play Manchester United in a friendly in San Diego last summer -- ouch!).


And upwards they go, recently promoted to League One.


But it's not all about soccer in Wrexham.


For Wrexham Uni, which is located literally next door to the stadium, there is a lot to be excited about, too.


Here are some of the highlights of my trip to campus in April 2023!


Wrexham University main campus building

Wrexham University


Although it has been delivering education at the main campus since 1887, the university has undergone a number of name changes over the years before receiving official university status in 2008.


Welcome to Wrexham

As one of the youngest universities in the UK, it was most recently known as Wrexham Glyndŵr University, after the Welsh scholar and hero Owain Glyndŵr.


However, the very day of my visit in 2023, the university announced it would soon be changing the name to just Wrexham University going forward.


2nd in Wales for teaching satisfaction

This is not the only development to come out of there recently though; Wrexham Uni has an £80 million strategy called Campus 2025 to enhance the student experience and facilities.


Many projects have already been completed, like the new B Hive below, a social/learning space.


The B Hive - a brand new social/learning space
The B Hive - a brand new social/learning space

To make way for a brand new main building/reception, Students' Union and engineering building among others, many of the old buildings will actually be torn down.


One of the coolest facilities was the brand new Healthcare Simulation Centre for its allied health programs, such as nursing -- a program that is currently offering a bursary for a full scholarship and guaranteed two years of work post-graduation in Wales!

Healthcare Simulation Centre

It also has mannequins that can be programmed to behave exactly like human patients with specific health conditions - a really effective way to train the healthcare practitioners of the future.


Mannequin for nursing students
Mannequin for nursing students

One of the most advanced pieces of equipment I've seen, however, is the one below, in which a full-body image of a human can be analyzed at the muscular and skeletal levels. It may look a little unusual, but it's an amazing - and extremely useful - piece of medical technology.


Nursing school technology

The images on the screen are actually taken from four real-life people who passed away and asked for their bodies to be donated to science (their faces have been changed for privacy reasons though).


This helps students determine the cause of death, and zoom in on particular areas of the muscular system or skeleton to investigate individual factors in more detail.


Nursing school technology

Wrexham also has a Centre for Creative Industries with 3D printer labs, podcasting rooms and more, perfect for Product Design students and others who want to let their creativity flow.


Centre for the Creative Industries
Centre for the Creative Industries
3D printer
3D printer

Although the engineering facilities will be getting a completely new look in the next couple years, the ones already on offer are quite advanced.


Aeronautical engineering projects
Aeronautical engineering projects

The aeronautical engineering department has its own flight simulator, which I was fortunate to be able to try out.


Engineering flight simulator
Engineering flight simulator
Trying out the flight simulator
Trying out the flight simulator

Spoiler alert -- I unfortunately crashed the plane. Sorry passengers!

I loved the automotive engineering lab, too, which had a whole range of vehicles, from formula 1 to luxury cars.


Automotive engineering
Automotive engineering

I also got to check out the modern library, the sports centre and the Students' Union, which happened to be hosting a Therapy Dogs gathering for students to relax and play with some fur balls before exams.


Therapy Dogs session in the Students' Union
Therapy Dogs session in the Students' Union
Wrexham Uni Students' Union
Wrexham Uni Students' Union
Sports centre
Sports centre
Student library
Student library
Student library
Student cafe outside the library
Student cafe and library
Student cafe and library

With around 6,000 students, Wrexham Uni is one of the smaller UK institutions.


This enables students to have a lot of access to their professors and as a result, a lot of support.


And for students wanting to live close by, Wrexham Village offers modern single-room ensuite accommodation -- with some pretty sweet views, too!


View from one of the student dorms
View from one of the student dorms

Located right next to the Wrexham AFC stadium, it sure makes going to either class or a game convenient!


To the left: Wrexham Stadium. To the right: Wrexham Uni dorms.
To the left: Wrexham Stadium. To the right: Wrexham Uni dorms.
My friend Samantha and I in the dorms overlooking the stadium
My friend Samantha and I in the dorms overlooking the stadium
Sam, me, Tiana and Misa in the dorms overlooking the stadium
Sam, me, Tiana and Misa in the dorms overlooking the stadium
Common area of the student housing
Common area of the student housing
Common area of the student housing
Common area of the student housing
Wrexham Uni dorm

The city of Wrexham


It wasn't until last year that Wrexham gained status as a city, becoming the seventh city in Wales.


And just one year later, it was already shortlisted as a City of Culture 2023.


Wrexham is also located in northeast Wales, which is starting to become known as the adventure capital of Europe with loads of outdoor activities for those seeking adrenaline thrills.


I drove along the stunning North Wales coastline en route from Bangor to Wrexham, and it was lush!


Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to spend much time in the city, but there's no doubt that Wrexham AFC is now one of its main tourist draws.


Wrexham AFC stadium, right next to the Wrexham Uni Student's Union
Wrexham AFC stadium, right next to the Wrexham Uni Student's Union

Formed in 1864, it's actually the third oldest professional association football club in the world.


Wrexham AFC stadium
Construction on the stadium
Construction on the stadium

And no visit to Wrexham would be complete without a trip to the Wrexham AFC supporters' pub, The Turf, which is also right outside the stadium.


The Turf, Wrexham AFC supporters' pub
The Turf pub in Wrexham
The Turf pub in Wrexham

I was fortunate to become friends with a couple locals, Trev and Gwyn, who had been coming to this pub since they were first old enough to go to pubs (and, as they joked, even before they were old enough!).


As a soccer fan myself and someone who had watched the series, I felt like I was stepping onto a Hollywood set (which, after speaking to Trev and Gwyn, is what most people who watched the show think The Turf actually is!).


Trev and Gwyn, long-time Wrexham AFC supporters
My friend Misa with Trev and Gwyn, long-time Wrexham AFC supporters

They even introduced me to the owner of the pub, Wayne Jones, who has featured regularly in the series.


Like all the other locals, he was extremely warm and down to earth despite being super busy fielding calls from Ryan Reynolds all the time!


Misa, Wayne Jones, and me
Misa, Wayne Jones, and me

Wayne said the last six months have been absolutely surreal.


Wrexham AFC supporters' wall
Tribute to Deadpool actor
Tribute to the Deadpool actor

What was surreal for me was when the documentary producers actually walked in to shoot some scenes and asked to interview us (check us out on Season 2 perhaps!).


Welcome to Wrexham producers

Summary


As you'll see, it is an exciting time to be in Wrexham.


Whether you're a student at Wrexham University or a fan of soccer, the investment all around the place has injected life into what was once a heavily industrial city with a population of 130,000.


Its location in North Wales gives students access to stunning outdoor scenery and activities, and it's only about three hours on the train from London or one hour from Liverpool.


I can't wait to come back in a few years' time to see all the finished campus works; it will seem like a brand new university.


And who knows -- maybe those student dorms will be overlooking the stadium of a proper top tier Premier League team by then, too!


Wrexham University main building

 

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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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