Spotlight on the Penryn Campus, Cornwall

The University of Exeter has three campus. In Exeter we have the Streatham and St Luke’s Campuses, and in Cornwall we have our Penryn Campus. Throughout this week current students from each campus will talk about their experiences of studying at their campus, what makes it so unique and why they made the decision to study at the University of Exeter.

Today Zac Lazarou (BSc Zoology) tells us about his experience of studying on the Penryn Campus, Cornwall.

The main reason I chose the Penryn campus is its unique location, Cornwall. Being a bioscience student, I did not want a city environment, and instead easy access to outdoor settings, especially the coastline. Secondary to this, was the look and feel of the campus itself, everything is modern and state-of-the art, with laboratories, seminar rooms and lecture theatres, library, bar, and café all in close-proximity. I also loved the emphasis on green spaces around campus with plenty of areas to relax in between studying or simply as an outdoor social space among peers. Finally, the community feel, as a mature student I felt accepted on campus regardless of my age or background and the synergy of sharing a campus with Falmouth University brought about a unique relationship between the science and humanities with the arts.

Drawing on my previous comment about sharing a campus with Falmouth University, it creates a distinct community of creatives and academics, in turn providing a plethora of opportunities in both societies, events and the diversity of students drawn to the campus. The environmental ethos on campus is also something I found unique. Facilities such as the cafeteria source their produce locally with a push to reduce single use plastic and use recyclable or reusable products. Recycling points are scattered all over campus so that you are never too far in disposing of rubbish appropriately. The campus itself hosts a variety of green spaces from grassland, scrub, hedgerows, and treelines, this attracts numerous native species and being a zoologist, it is a great place to explore nature. With the campus being in Cornwall, I have some of the most incredible coastline in the country on my doorstep, which in turn brings the Cornish outdoor lifestyle that I have fully-embraced with rock-climbing, hiking and sea swimming. The campus is very well integrated to the local community, which is something I did not feel at other universities. The university and the student union alike, organise engaging events or activities in the local area, on campus or between local community groups. These experiences really enrich my university journey, as I not only joined the University of Exeter, but I have also moved to Cornwall and want to integrate in living here as much as possible rather than just being a student.

Zoology was the perfect fit for me, as it is a wide-scoping degree in terms bioscience that covers whole organism biology, evolutionary theory, and broad-scale ecology. I was not exactly sure what I wanted to specify my interests in, Zoology offered a lot of modularity so I could choose topics in marine biology, animal behaviour and ecology and conservation. I knew that this would allow me to experiment with my interests and discover what worked for me. What also jumped out at me, are the practical aspects in both the field and the lab. My knowledge of the natural world was limited before joining the course, so being able to learn theory in lectures or seminars then apply that practically solidifies knowledge while gaining real-world experience.

Field courses are arguably the most distinctive aspect of my course. The emphasis on gaining relative experience in real-world scenarios provides skills that would not normally be available through taught lectures or seminars. The University is research led, thus the field sites we venture too are there to build upon what we have already learnt and also give new and challenging experiences in understanding biological aspects, especially species and environments not found in the British Isles. For example, my second-year field course, although having to go virtual due to Coronavirus, explored the montane ecology of the Pyrenees. Key topics were how altitudinal gradients effect biodiversity and ecological assemblages, transhumance farming in mountainous regions, migratory patterns of species, human-wildlife conflict and conservation strategies that incorporate socio-economic benefits while promoting biodiversity. All these aspects were explored broadly and in-depth, and which I would not have learned typically in lectures or perhaps not have fully understood without this applied outlook.

One of the defining factors for me, was the sense of community and welcoming. The moment I received an email from the University it felt personal and non-generic. Then fast-forward to my offer-holder visit day, the staff, student ambassadors and academics were so friendly and approachable. Students I interacted with at other Universities often seemed bored, uninterested and were only doing it for the experience which left me quite cold. In contrast the students at the University of Exeter were incredibly upbeat, passionate about their courses, student-life and most importantly ready to answer any questions I had. The academics went above and beyond in detailing the structure of my course, teaching methods and the utility of gaining experience through university opportunities. I felt like I was going to be taught by leaders in their field and learning topics that were informed by the latest research.

As a mature student, one of my biggest worries was fitting in while being older than most students and how the university accommodated for those circumstances. It was a relief to know that the university had a dedicated mature student group, allowing to meet other students in the same situation, but regardless of my age I also felt well integrated with the university community. Unlike other universities I had visited, staff were very supportive of mature students in terms of accommodation, financing, and part-time job opportunities. All these aspects influenced my decision, knowing that I would be well supported, be able to utilise opportunities that enhanced my experience, be part of a dynamic and welcoming community and finally being taught by leading academics.  

A large part of final year is to conduct a research project alongside an academic supervisor. For instance, my project looks at Gall wasp communities, primarily focusing on the evolutionary and ecological mechanisms that sustain the rich biodiversity in an enclosed ecosystem, especially due to the parasitic interactions that should cause species exclusion. As a bioscience student, this project encompasses everything we have been taught throughout our degree, from theory, essay-writing, field and lab work, objective critical thinking to comprehension of current literature. I believe it is the best way to embody our knowledge and experience and applying that to something that can contribute to the latest findings in research. What I find most rewarding, is the autonomy of the project, as we need to come up with our own methodologies, spend time background reading the topic and conduct all the data collection and analysis ourselves. At this point I truly feel like a scientist and perhaps imposter syndrome is kicking too.

Penryn offers a plethora of societies and sports, I believe 150 or so, for a campus inhabiting 7000 students that’s quite a lot. From quidditch and lacrosse, to gaming and dungeons & dragons. There is something for everyone, and I also think the creative arts from the Falmouth students certainly enhances society opportunities which provides unique hobbies or interests to explore during university. With the campus having an environmental ethos, student led societies build upon this to further contribute to the student experience. My interests are mostly associated with nature and outdoor activities, these societies are very much front and centre during my time on campus. For example, EcoSoc (Ecological Society) host events to teach students about natural-history, particularly local native species, as well as partnering with local conservation groups to conduct volunteer days or surveys. WildDocSoc (Wildlife Documentary Society) host film nights for students to watch natural-history documentaries and bring in guest wildlife filmmakers to talk to students about their journey into the industry while sharing their incredible stories. MarineWatch partner with a local wildlife-watching business that take students on boating trips to watch marine-life off the Falmouth estuary where we can spot peregrine falcons, common dolphins and minke whale.

I am personally part of a committee called Life Magazine as the photo-editor, it is a student-led publication focusing on science-communication and journalism with an emphasis on natural history. I like to think of it as the universities version of National Geographic. The quality of each issues is always mind-blowing to me and each committee member dedicates a great deal of work to produce a polished and professional magazine which we are all very proud of. We also host workshops on photography, writing, illustration, and graphic design, it’s a great way to engage with the student body and also provide skills that perhaps some may pursue in their career.

In terms of volunteering, the university and the students union are partnered with many community groups, such as the Flicka Donkey Sanctuary, Cornwall Wildlife Trust, Cornwall Seal Sanctuary, and many others. It’s great that as students, we are spoilt for choice in extracurricular activities to get involved with, the variety accommodates for peoples wide-ranging interests and alongside studies can ensure we gain a fulfilling experience during our journey at the campus.

The Cornish lifestyle is perhaps my favourite aspect of living in Penryn. Cornwall offers so much in terms of outdoor activities, unique locations to explore and as I keep repeating, the sense of community. The traditional university setting is often within the hustle and bustle of a city environment, whereas Penryn is very much integrated to a rural landscape. This in turn provides an incredible backdrop of the British countryside and the stunning Cornish coastline. In my free time, I am either exploring coastal walks, searching for local wildlife, relaxing on beaches, swimming, or rock climbing which I could not imagine doing at most other universities. It is this integration that makes my university experience so enriching and embracing a totally different lifestyle to the London one I had before moving here. Obviously this may not be for everyone, some prefer a city environment with a cosmopolitan feel and vibrant nightlife but if you have a sense of outdoor adventure, like me, then Penryn is ideal given the swath opportunities both at the University and the wider-community in Cornwall.

Spotlight on our Streatham Campus, Exeter

I really enjoyed the location, of Devon and the South-West in general. I had intended to come to a visit day delayed by snow and so when I came in spring it was gorgeous to behold. Streatham was the choice as St Lukes is the medical campus so the Devon Campus and so liking Devon and Exeter in general meant that Streatham was the choice for me. It wasn’t too far from home, but neither did it feel like I was too close either as I wanted the freedom to be able to get home if I really really needed but not be in a position where I would just go home on the weekends and not truly “live” as much at university like some of my friends who went to universities with locations much closer to home for that reason. Streatham was well located and I wanted a campus for my university experience compared to a city experience. I also chose Streatham for the variety of accommodation options, when I had to list my preferences I felt that I wouldn’t have minded being put in any of them even as I obviously had a favourite and this helped make it really appealing to make a choice like that over Penryn or other universities for me personally. I also chose Streatham because while not out of the way, it wasn’t a campus in the middle of Exeter and therefore I felt that I’d not only be slightly safer though this wasn’t the primary concern but that it would generally be quieter for me at night and that when I did want or need to go into Exeter that the trade-off wasn’t so great in terms of being close enough to be a short walk but far enough to not have constant noise at night into the early hours.

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Reduced offers

At the University of Exeter, we value the skills and experience that students derive from undertaking an EPQ/studying Core Maths. We will therefore take a student’s EPQ and/or Core Maths grade into account when making an offer.

If a student holds a Grade A in EPQ or Core Maths (or both), we may make a reduced offer of one grade for most of our programmes.

For example: BA History, Streatham
Typical Offer: AAA
Reduced offer (with EPQ or Core Maths Grade A): AAB

If your students have any questions about how their offer for the University of Exeter might alter in light of an EPQ/Core Maths grade, they can contact our admissions team here:

WebEnquire online
Phone: 0300 555 60 60 (UK callers)*
+44 (0)1392 723044 (EU/International callers)

* Calling us on an 0300 number will cost you the same as a call to a standard landline number starting with 01 and 02.

Free and accessible resources for your students over the summer

Though current challenges mean face-to-face interaction with universities is limited, there’s never been a better opportunity for students to engage with us online. We want to reassure you we will be here throughout the summer for both students and yourselves.

 

Students

There are plenty of opportunities for students to engage with current staff and students online. There are opportunities to ask questions about life and study at University, as well as support with personal statements, applications and more.

Students have three options they can either talk to:

  1. Current students using Unibuddy
  2. Academics at our live Unibuddy events
  3. University Outreach Staff and current students on Our Discover University Facebook Page

Unibuddy is a free online chat service which connects prospective students with university ambassadors.   It gives your students real-time access to people at our university, so they can chat about the things it doesn’t say in the brochure. This can replicate the conversations they may have had when attending a physical Open day or UCAS Exhibition about a subject they are interested in or student life.  There is no limit for how many conversations or questions students can ask so it is a worthwhile resource to be accessed year round for all ages of students.  Many universities have this resource which helps students make an informed decision alongside their research from University websites.

The academic live chat schedule can be accessed here.

University of Exeter Discover University is a collection of online activities and resources designed to support students, parent/guardians, teachers and advisers through various digital platforms. Examples of events include online subject conferences, live streamed advice and guidance workshops and a live lecture series.

 

Teachers/HE Advisors

It is time for a well-deserved rest, when looking ahead to the next year please visit our new website for teachers/HE Advisors which has useful free resources to support you and your students.

An example of this are our short animated videos on crucial topics such Personal Statements and Wellbeing.  Feel free to circulate these to your students as an accessible introduction to the topics.

http://www.exeter.ac.uk/teachers/informationandresources

We also have short interactive factsheets on topics from lectures, labs and budgeting to help prepare year 13 for University which can be downloaded as PDFs.  These can then be accessed offline in the students own time and worked through at their leisure.

As a Teacher/HE Advisor please feel free to email us at to talk to the Outreach Officer in your region to discuss how we can support your school/college.

 

Finally

Our ‘In Conversation’ series aims to provide useful insights of topical higher education issues from a University perspective. The sessions are delivered by Dr Karl Devincenzi, School Relationship Manager, who is joined by key members of staff from our university community. Each session delves into different topics and aims to provide information and guidance for prospective students.

In this episode, Katherine and Karl explore the implications of student number caps for this year’s application cycle, the implications of Covid-19 for students starting in September and how opportunities such as study abroad and industrial placements may be affected.

https://youtu.be/4F8RIfI2tMM

Top tips for Clearing

With clearing for 2020 entry opening on 6 July, here are some top tips for students;

 

Do your research

When you become eligible to apply for a University place in Clearing, you might have to contact lots of universities on the same day and make decisions quickly. It’s normal for this to be daunting, but going into the process equipped with knowledge will help make it as stress free as possible.

Understand what Clearing is and how it works.

Research universities and courses you might be interested in.

 

Get ready

You might have to wait until you get your results to be eligible for Clearing, but you can gather all the information you’ll need on the day in advance. When you’ve identified some universities and colleges you are interested in, keep checking their websites for Clearing information. Vacancies may be listed from 6 July onwards.

 

Write down a list of course options (including UCAS codes) and find out how you should be contacting providers, i.e. phone, completing online Clearing forms, webchat etc. – you don’t want to be panicking to find information on the day.

Get all the correct documentation together including your UCAS Personal ID.

Prepare copies of academic results and any other tests such as English Language so that you have these ready to send.

Check who will be available to help you at your school or college and at home; universities will only be able to give general information to teachers, advisers and parents unless they are your nominated UCAS contact so check who this is.

 

Talk to universities

Whilst we are in this time of uncertainty universities still very much want to help you to decide if we are the right university for you. Here at the University of Exeter you will have the opportunity to explore your subject of interest, as well as chat to our central and academic staff and current students either online or in person during clearing.

 

Keep results day free

Keep your results day free (plus the following weekend).

Make sure you’ve got a working phone, pen and paper and access to the internet.

We advise all applicants to complete our online clearing form. This form is quick and easy to complete, it is also the quickest way for you to receive a decision from Exeter.

 

How do I find a place through Clearing?

It is important to ensure that you consider all your options and don’t rush. Take your time to make the right decision for you.

If you go through Clearing and find that your grades are not high enough to secure the place you want, we would advise you to consider your options. You might decide that retaking your exams and applying again the following year is the best option for you.

 

Contacting the University of Exeter

Our admissions team will be available to help with any queries and questions via our online chat

https://vacancies.exeter.ac.uk/clearing/home/

Students can also sign up for our Clearing emails and we’ll let you know when our places in Clearing become available as well as top tips and guidance for applying through the Clearing process.

http://www.exeter.ac.uk/clearing/sign-up/

 

Changes to UCAS Decision Dates

In light of the current situation UCAS have helped ease the pressure on students by extending the decision making deadline for 2020 entry. All students will have been advised via email by UCAS that there has been an extension to their decision deadline and the first deadline extension is now due, so it is a good time to encourage students to log-on to UCAS Track and confirm their firm and insurance choices if they haven’t already done so.

Decision deadline dates will vary depending on when students received their offers;

  • If the last decision was received on or before 4 June 2020, then the reply date is 18 June 2020 (except if they are using Extra to find a place)
  • If the last decision was received on or before 13 July 2020, then the reply date is 20 July 2020 (including Extra choices)

If students do not reply by these dates then their offers will be automatically declined.

Not all students will have access to their School or College email address on A-Level results day, so it is also a good time to remind students to please update their email address on UCAS to a personal email address to ensure they continue to receive the most up to information from both UCAS and the universities they are applying to.

Meet the Schools Team

Led by our Recruitment and Schools Relationship Manager, Dr Karl Devincenzi, here at the University of Exeter we have a team of Outreach Officers delivering our Student Recruitment and Outreach activity with schools and colleges across the United Kingdom.

We provide information, advice and guidance for prospective students, parents/guardians, teachers and advisers through a series of presentations, workshops and visits to our campuses in Devon and Cornwall.

Each of our Outreach Officers cover a different region and provide schools and colleges with a personalised service to help support your staff and students.

If you would like to discuss opportunities to work with your school or college please and the Outreach Officer for your region will get back to you.