The North/South Divide: Does it Actually Matter?

One of the first arguments you’ll ever have in freshers is the age old question: which is better, North or South? This question can cause hours of dispute, each side remaining loyal to their geographical location. But, other than for banter purposes, does it really matter whether you’re from the north or the south? And does it make any difference to your university experience?

Impact Features spoke to University of Nottingham students and researched the North/South divide at university to find out.

As a southerner living with northerners I find that not a week goes by without an argument flaring up over the pronunciation of ‘bath’ or the proper term for a ‘bacon roll.’ But at the end of the day we are all pretty much the same, which is why I find it so strange that in some universities in the country there is a huge gap between the amount of southern and northern students given places.

In 2011 the BBC reported that ‘in terms of comparable populations, three times as many university places go to students from London and the South East as from the North. There may be many reasons as to why this is; perhaps the different economic backgrounds, the arrogance and elitism of some universities or maybe a simple case of southern students gaining higher A-Level grades.

“Three times as many university places go to students from London and the South East as from the North”

The Guardian also reported on the gap in north vs south university places, in January 2015 it claimed, It has been reported that all but one of the 20 council areas that send the most children to Britain’s top universities are in London and the South East. By contrast, the 20 council areas sending the fewest children to the top one-third of universities are mainly in the more deprived areas of the north and the Midlands.

As mentioned before, there could be many reasons for this, however there seems to be a correlation between the wealth of the area and the number of young people gaining university places. For example, in the more deprived areas, where schools may not have as many resources for their students, it seems reasonable to assume that less of those students will go on to achieve as many A-B A-Levels than those attending well-resourced schools. So in wealthier areas such as Cambridge and Hampshire, it follows that there may be a higher percentage of young people gaining university places than those from say, Birmingham or Wolverhampton. This is of course a generalisation.

The BBC report went on to explain that in London and the South East a higher proportion of pupils achieve three A grades at A-level – and it follows that pupils from this part of the country will gain more of the most sought-after places.’

I spoke to one Midlands born student, Tim, who said, “Seeing as London is the capital of the country and from the south, I’m not surprised lots of people from there get university places. It follows that where there’s money there will be higher grades and better CV’s and because of that a better university place.’

However, one Leeds born student, who applied to Oxford with two A’s and a B, claimed that it is most likely the elitist views of those running the universities that effects the gap between north and south university places. “Most southerners can be arrogant and think that people up north are poor or criminals – or like people from Jeremy Kyle. That’s obviously not true, but I think that some universities take that into consideration when offering uni places.”

But, does being northern or southern affect your time once you get to university? One student from York claimed, “I think most people find northerners to be friendlier. So they’re probably more likely to have more fun on nights out and in societies.

However Alice, English student from Brighton, disagreed: “I honestly don’t think it makes a difference where you’re from. You may get a bit of banter for your accent but that’s just the same for everyone no matter where you’re from.”

“I think most people find northerners to be friendlier”

To summarise, it’s important to mention that whether you’re northern or southern, income does play a part in your university experience but that doesn’t necessarily haven anything to do with your geographical location. So, whether you’re from Bournemouth or Northampton, it doesn’t really matter or make any difference to your university experience – except for maybe the social implications such as the banter that comes with your accent or your local food delicacies.

Natalie Mallory

Photo: Jeff Djevdet via https://speedpropertybuyers.co.uk/

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