The style of a university’s campus can be almost as important as its location or facilities. Whether it is just a collection of buildings spread throughout a city or a self-contained unit, will entirely change the atmosphere and ethos of a university. There are two main options for you in terms of university style, so don’t worry it’s not too complicated:

The campus of the California Institute of Technology in the night

Image Credit: RBerteig/

Campus Universities

Lots of universities, especially those built in the 1960s, were built as self-contained campuses, with all of the university’s accommodation, teaching buildings and facilities all on the same site.

The Pros:

  • All of the facilities are in one place, meaning you save on travel costs and get an extra lie in!
  • There is a close knit community and you are sure to make friends, especially since these universities tend to have the best social scenes.
  • It is safer than living in amongst the city and less overwhelming.

The Cons:

  • It is harder to meet people outside of the university as you are more segregated from the rest of the population; this may make you feel stifled or claustrophobic.
  • It is likely that you may live farther out of town, making trips into town more time consuming and costly, and meaning that there may not be much activity or many local amenities nearby.


Non-Campus Universities

There are lots of universities where the facilities, accommodation and buildings are spread throughout a town or city.

The Pros:

  • It is easy to meet people outside of university meaning you can become more integrated with the local population and make more friends.
  • It is likely that you will be learning and living closer to the city centre meaning all of the cultural attractions and amenities are right on your doorstep.
  • You will feel more independent.


  • It will take longer to get between lectures and you will pay more for travel.
  • The university community will be less cohesive and supportive.
  • Living within a big city can be daunting and overwhelming.


In between campus and non-campus universities, there are also multi-site campus with two or more campuses throughout the city. The benefit of this is that you may be able to live closer to the city centre but retain the community support of a campus. Having said this, you will not get to meet as many people because you will only live and study with half or less than half of the university’s students. This could make you feel very claustrophobic.


Return to Choosing a Degree