Preston – City Guide
It’s easy to see why Preston is a popular city with students once you spend any amount of time in the city. It has a relaxed atmosphere which is helped by everything being so close together – it sits somewhere on the scale between a normal university city and a dedicated campus – you never have to travel far between accommodation and lectures, but all the amenities of the city centre are on your doorstep too.
It’s also convenient for the rest of the North West, acting as a hub for anyone who fancies the occasional night out in Liverpool or Manchester, or a day trip to the coast to enjoy the fun of the Blackpool attractions, or even a more rural escape into the Lake District for outdoor adventures. All of these are just a short (and cheap) train journey from Preston, so you’re never short of something to do.
Not that Preston itself doesn’t have lots to offer. Don’t let the size of the city fool you – it has everything you’d need for study and entertainment while the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has exceptional teaching facilities, including courses and lecturers that are at the top of their field. The central location of the university makes it very much a part of the city’s culture, with a large percentage of the population of Preston made up of students.
Indeed the biggest thing happening to Preston over the next few months and indeed years is the regeneration of the university, in a project being referred to as the UCLan Masterplan. This ten-year development is well underway, which will see a complete revamp of the university campus along with the surrounding areas.
It is a huge boost for Preston both for local residents and for current and new students. Older buildings no longer fit for purpose are being demolished, to be replaced with modern facilities, safer pedestrianised squares, and social areas where people can unwind. The Masterplan will “create an accessible campus that welcomes the wider community” and “reinforce connections with the city centre” according to official documentation, making for an exciting time to be living or studying in Preston.
Studying at UCLan
Anyone who chooses to study in Preston will find it to be an exciting city to learn in. Millions of pounds are always being invested in new facilities to offer courses with leading technologies, as well as unrivalled sports facilities such as Preston Sports Arena and the Sir Tom Finney Leisure Centre (used as training facilities for nations before the 2012 Olympic Games) available to students for recreational use. UCLan is known for excellent media, sports, science and hospitality courses but it has a wealth of options for study available. It’s not all about lectures and seminars either – learning at Preston is all about experience, as one Tourism student found when he took a placement year at a local online travel agent, as organised by his course leader.
John Whittle didn’t just spend a year in an office doing filing, but instead spent time around the business working with each team before the best bit of his placement year – enjoying a free cruise to Ireland to experience the product, something he never thought he’d get to do through his university course.
He said: “UCLan provides a lot of opportunity both for the placement year and post-graduation roles. (My placement year) opportunity arose from the University itself; the course leader approached me thinking I would suit the business. When I was told I was going on (the cruise) I was thrilled! All expenses paid for, but also first-hand experience of the cruising industry. The cruise itself was amazing, especially the staff on board who knew our names within 24 hours. It was my first experience on a cruise ship and I thoroughly enjoyed it – I’m looking to booking my next cruise this summer.
“I was due to finish my placement year in July when the opportunity came up to stay part time at the business. I’d like to think this was due to the hard work I put in throughout the placement and possibly a certain amount of professionalism which UCLan has taught me.”
Socialising in Preston
Around the university campus, there are plenty of good quality pubs for food when you’re looking for somewhere to eat out. But with the city centre just a short walk away you’ve also got a number of restaurants and cafes available, from famous national chains to independents offering a wide range of cuisine. The same can be said of shopping, with a packed high street featuring major stores along with smaller shops selling more offbeat items around the indoor market and side streets. There’s enough variety to ensure everyone will find something they like. Plus if you want a major retail fix, the famed Trafford Centre or Liverpool One shopping centres are less than an hour away by public transport.
As for nights out, Preston has a great range of venues catering to all tastes, from dedicated student bars to dance nights and rock clubs. In terms of live music, there are many good quality bars showcasing local talent, while the Guild Hall in the city centre hosts bigger acts from the worlds of music, theatre and comedy. Preston has two major chain cinemas and a bowling alley, all a short distance from the main university accommodation. ‘Source’ is the main Student Union bar. A popular venue during the day and at night, it’s located at the heart of the campus and hosts a range of events.
Matt Smith, a manager at Source, is a strong believer in the bar putting students first. “He said: Source is good for students as it is completely dedicated and exclusive to students. Not only does that mean that all profits go back into funding student services like sports clubs, societies, advice & welfare programmes, it also means that we are able to work with and support groups looking to put on events, sponsor teams and adapt our programme to suit what students specifically are asking for.
“We have a weekly programme of events starting with Karaoke & Cocktails on a Tuesday night, Fuel and Refuel on Wednesdays, Jukebox Thursdays, The Saturday Social and rounding the week off with the ever popular Smartphone Pub Quiz. The real highlights though are the landmark events throughout the year. Both Winter Survival and St Patrick’s Day are major events, but the one really not to be missed is the year-ending Summer Survival.
“It’s an exciting time around UCLan at the moment with a redevelopment of the campus getting underway. The university is full of ambition and the high proportion of students in Preston means that there’s a real community feel about the place and always plenty going on.”
Preston continues to grow in popularity with students, with great facilities and avenues available for study as well as a number of different and varied options for an active social life. It’s a city with a very good university that encourages learning through experience as much as learning from the experts, where you’ll grow as a person and have an exciting time doing so.