Big uni vs small uni: which one is right for you?

Deciding on which university to go to can be a very tough decision for most students and some of you might still be trying to come to a verdict. There are loads of factors to consider during this time, like location and living costs and so on, but some of you might be choosing between universities which are different in size. As someone who has attended both a big uni and a small uni, I have seen the positives and negatives of both. Which one is right for you: Big uni vs small uni…


While big universities tend to have a livelier nightlife scene which makes socialising during fresher’s week fun and easy, it can be that you meet people only once or twice before they’re swallowed into the sea of other students. If you’re someone who is quite shy and quiet, it can be hard to approach people you’re acquainted with but have only actually met a couple of times, therefore making friends can be a little more difficult.

However, at smaller universities, there tends to be a much more intimate, community feel. It’s often the case that you’ll see people you recognise more regularly, so it can be easier to approach them and you will most likely have links to new people through your already established group of friends. Eventually, everybody gets to know everybody, so, if you like tight-knit, close communities, a smaller university may be more suitable for you. This may be further influenced by whether you are at a city vs campus university.


Bigger universities mean bigger cohorts, meaning there are more people you can talk to about assignments and projects when you’re stuck or just want another opinion. There are also more people to share ideas in lectures and seminars which means you can make more comprehensive notes which are not just copied off the seminar slides. That isn’t to say you don’t get the same sort of thing in smaller universities; however, a larger lecture/seminar group brings together a variety of minds and opinions which makes debates in seminars more interesting.

In smaller universities, however, it can be much easier to book tutorials and get one-to-one time with your lectures, something which is especially helpful when you’re working to tight deadlines and want some extra help. This also means you can have a much better relationship with your tutor, which is beneficial when they are writing your references when you start applying for graduate jobs!


All universities have societies; however, at big universities, you are likely to find a much broader range of them. This is because there is a larger number of students and therefore differing interests, meaning there are usually much more societies to choose from. Smaller universities tend to have a range of sports societies and other than that, can sometimes be pretty limited (but this depends on the uni). However, it is noteworthy to mention that at pretty much all universities there is a chance for students to create their own society.

Obviously, you won’t base your entire decision on these factors, but if university size was something you are weighing up when making your decision, hopefully, it has shed some light on some of the pros and cons of big and small universities.

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