Aspiring politicians should opt to study in London or the South East, while northern and Scottish universities offer the best nightlife, a report has found.
The new survey of more than 16,000, published by Which? reveals those universities that excel in areas other than academic reputation, be that sport, politics, creative arts, extracurricular activities or nightlife.
Unsurprisingly given its vast range of facilities, Loughborough was rated among the best for sport, alongside Durham, Bath and St Mary’s Twickenham. Specialist creative arts universities such as Arts University Bournemouth, University of the Arts London and Goldsmiths, fared poorly when judged for sport, but topped the list for creativity as expected.
Other creative universities included Falmouth, Bath Spa, Huddersfield and St Andrews with City, London South Bank and Harper Adams falling behind in the arty stakes. Titons Oxford and Cambridge made the cut for creativity but did not feature among the best for sport.
With the School of Oriental and African Studies, University College London and the London School of Economics all based in London, the UK capital is considered the most attractive destination for would-be politicians. Along with Oxbridge, these universities offer an expansive range of political groups, activities, meetings and demonstrations, making politics a central part of student life.
The University of Leeds presents the most varied students’ union activities, as do Sheffield, Keele and Nottingham, while Ulster, Oxford Brookes and Greenwich provide more limited opportunities to try something new.
Northern students have the most fun, however, with eight universities in the north and Scotland rated as top nightlife hubs, including Newcastle, Manchester, Liverpool and Strathclyde. St Andrew’s, Durham, Chichester and Cambridge were deemed less diverse locations for pubbing and clubbing.
University College London, Glasgow, Birmingham and Leeds scored highly across every category examined.
More than a quarter of students told Which? that they wished had done more research before selecting a university, with one in ten regretting their decision.
"The academic and extracurricular experience at university varies widely," said Jenni Allen, head of Which? University. "With increased tuition fees, it’s never been more important for prospective students to weigh up all the options and make sure they make the right choice for them."