Going Higher: 'A good sense of community'

Paddy Rathbone has just finished his second year studying English literature at the University of Teeside in Middlesbrough. He is spending the next year on sabbatical with the students' union

"TEESIDE HAS been a revelation. It has turned out to be a really good place to be.

"I spent my first year in hall and then moved into a shared house where the rent is only pounds 28 a week. The great thing about Teeside is that the halls and most of the rented housing are all very close to the university. Everything is within walking distance and that gives you a good sense of community.

"When I came up to an open day before I started I was really impressed with the university itself, and since then the students' union has come on by leaps and bounds. There is plenty of cheap beer, a bar big enough for 600 and a nightclub for 1,000 open three nights a week.

"In the town the pub scene has really taken off as well and a lot of the new or refurbished places are aimed at the student market.

"For a special occasion there is the Tall Trees nightclub at Yarm, not far away, and if it's outdoor attractions you want you can surf at Saltburn, swim at Redcar, or you've got the whole of the north Yorkshire moors to explore."

Laura Starkey has just graduated with a degree in fashion design from Northumbria University in Newcastle

"I REALLY enjoyed the time I spent in the north-east in spite of having quite a heavy workload on my course. I spent my first year in hall. The two universities are close to each other and close to the town centre and the students mix with each other more than I think they do in other places.

"My first year was really convenient because I could roll out of bed and into lectures in minutes. After that I shared houses, first in Jesmond which is a really nice area, then in a more dodgy part of town, and finally in Heaton which is the main area for student rented housing. Accommodation is very easy to find, and rents are reasonable, not often more than pounds 35.

"The students' union was really popular when I first went, then it had a quiet spell. There's a very wide social mix amongst the students which is interesting.

"Newcastle is a really friendly city and there's plenty to do in the pubs and clubs, though not so much if you are looking for culture.

"Compared to London it still feels like quite a small town."