Battle of the Universities: York

Rhiannon·23 May 2023·5 min read
Battle of the Universities: York

Battle of the Universities: York

York is an iconic northern city, full of history, great food, art, ghosts and a brilliant pub scene. It is also home to two universities, the University of York (UoY) and York St. John University (YSJ). If you know you want to come to university in York but you are torn between the two universities, this blog is just for you!

Academic Reputation:

UoY is a Russel group university, so it naturally has a more prestigious academic reputation, whereas YSJ is an old teacher training college, turned university. However, YSJ is a much older university, founded in 1841, whilst UoY was only founded in 1963. Therefore, YSJ is a very well-established university in York and should not be overlooked. According to the Guardian University Guide 2023 , UoY stands at 21 st out of the 121 universities ranked, whilst YSJ stands at 77th.

It is important to understand that these rankings are based on a specific set of factors and are general measure of the university’s ranking. I recommend researching the ranking of the course you plan to study, TEF scores, NSS rankings, and other measurement metrics before coming to a decision.

Courses on Offer:

As stated, it is important to consider the course you intend to study and how that ranks at the respective universities. Within the UK, according to the Guardian University Guide 2023 , UoY offers programmes which rank very well. Some of its highly ranked subjects include Psychology (8th), Archaeology (15th), English (17th), Biology (7th) and Chemistry (17th)

YSJ also ranks highly in some subject areas such as Creative Writing (10th), Psychology (35th), Education (52nd), Media and Film Studies (30th) and Sports Science (11th).

By assessing how your chosen subject ranks at both universities, you will get a great indication about which university may be better suited to you.

Campus, Location and Facilities:

If you have the opportunity, visiting the universities in person would also be incredibly useful. The feel you get of the campus can be just as useful as any metric.

UOY is located outside the city centre, spread across two campuses. Campus West is about a 30-minute walk and Campus East about a 50-minute walk from the city centre. All teaching facilities, college bars and cafes, some Nisas, sports facilities, student halls and study spaces are conveniently located on campus. You truly experience the intimate university campus feel at UOY, especially given it is one of the few universities which is collegiate.

When you do need to get into town, there’s a £2 bus which provides access to the city centre. While walking around the campus, you would have formerly been able to spot the famous tall duck, Longboi , having a dip in the plastic-bottomed lake. UOY is a much larger university, with around double the number of students, therefore the campus is naturally larger and offers more facilities and opportunities.

YSJ is the more conveniently located university, situated right in the city centre bordering the city walls. It doesn’t have the campus feel that UoY does, but the easy access to the city’s shops, pubs, cafes, and the train station really does make up for it. YSJ’s campus is also much more beautiful than UoY’s, with both new, state of the art buildings, alongside gothic Victorian buildings, and courtyards. These starkly contrast the brutalism and greyness of UoY. Even those at UoY reluctantly agree that YSJ’s campus is nicer.


Both universities provide a vibrant and insightful student experience in an excellent city. You should look at where your chosen subject ranks on the league tables for both universities, because, although UoY does have the superior academic reputation, YSJ has a lot to offer in terms of its excellent campus and location. Do your research and visit both universities if you have the opportunity. Regardless of which you end up choosing, you will have the wonderful city of York right on your doorstep.

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