The annual Whatuni Student Choice Awards (WUSCAs) highlight the incredible work carried out by institutions for their students. Due to Covid restrictions, this year’s awards were not collected on uni campuses as usual, but instead based on submissions from institutions, which were then judged by our special student panel.
2021 WUSCA winners
It’s been a good year and met lots of new friends and had the best life I could have, but covid did ruin it quite a lot and it could’ve been a lot better. Hopefully next year will be a batter one
Great experience in general. Feel that tutors could have more empathy towards personal situations that students are facing. Learning has been well adjusted to work online but feels as though much of it isn’t relevant to my subject, especially in the current project.
Haven’t experienced as 1st year but heard good things.
They’ve done well to adjust with the changing Coronavirus conditions.
Overall I have really enjoyed my time at NUA, particularly the experience of living in Norwich. The city suits me, and perhaps it'll suit you too. I really enjoy the practical approach which the Film course, and the uni as a whole, takes. It is a pleasant, creative community with dedicated lecturers, good student support and generally pretty good facilities. Definitely bear in mind that NUA is a smaller uni, which can be a good and a bad thing.
I haven't yet reached the end of my third year but so far this year we've had some employability sessions and been given access to an online career development portal, PROFILE, as well as to the Ideas Factory office who can always offer advice, including help with starting up a creative business. There is an annual graduate showcase, and leading industry figures are invited to look at students' graduate work. Obviously, in summer 2020 this had to be held online, and there was a bit of a controversy about the uni only choosing to showcase certain students' work on their website.
The academic support from the staff has been very good, particularly during the pandemic. Staff on the FMIP course have done their best to keep our final Year 3 productions moving forward as usual. Pre-pandemic, in Years 1 and 2, our contact time was around 10-12 hours per week, which I felt was a good balance. A good range of topics were covered, and I liked the emphasis on learning through practical projects. The structure of the course was well put together, although it changes from year to year which is a positive in my view; lecturers were always keen to take our feedback into account. Pre-pandemic we had a weekly film screening which was nice. The course has felt a little bit disorganised at times. I feel like we could have been challenged a little harder especially on the theoretical and technical side, although I suppose that is inevitable when the course is so focused around letting us develop our individual artistic practice.
The SU is kind of non-existent compared to bigger unis. There is an SU Lounge which is a nice place to hang out between lectures, but no SU bar/music venue or anything like that. There are a fair amount of SU-organised activities. Generally the NUA SU comes across as an extension of the uni, rather than an independent body. The uni is quite small and we're given plenty of opportunities to give feedback, which is usually listened to, so there isn't as much of a need for a large 'political' student union to hold the uni to account; and thankfully the uni is pretty good when it comes to stuff like accessibility and gender-neutral toilets, so the lack of a proper SU isn't as big an issue as it could be.
I moved straight into a shared house rather than halls and do not regret it in the slightest. I did know one of my housemates from college so there was that extra bit of reassurance; I know some people do prefer to go into halls to meet people, but in my opinion shared housing is the way to go. Extra independence, no security guards telling you where you can and can't have a cigarette, no fees for doing your laundry. Plus it's always cheaper. Most student housing is in the Golden Triangle (to the southwest of the city centre) and the Silver Triangle (to the north). I've lived in the GT the whole time—it's a quite posh, pretty area with some nice independent shops (esp. on Unthank and Earlham Road shopping centre), nice green spaces (Plantation Garden, Heigham Park, Eaton Park and Earlham Cemetery for the Smiths fans among us) and lots of Victorian terraced housing. It's a bit pricier as Norwich goes, but this is Norwich we're talking about, so still *relatively* cheap. Average cost of a pint in the GT is £4.50 though. Your house will most likely be a one-up-one-down terrace with 3-4 bedrooms, one of which will be the front room (so accessed via the front door!), a shared alley, a small garden and a bathroom at the end of the kitchen. The Silver Triangle is a little bit less fashionable and thus cheaper; by no means a nasty area though (although I'm from Essex so I may be a little biased). It's also a bit closer to the uni as the campus buildings are all clustered on the north side of the city centre around the river. I've been in most of the major halls for parties and such. My run-down would be: UNI HALLS All Saints Green - pretty expensive, but if you're gonna go for halls and you're able to secure a place there, this is probs your best bet. Modern, clean, right in the heart of the action in the city centre. Bit sterile but all modern uni halls are tbh. Smallish rooms with ensuites. Beechcroft - a trek out of the city centre at the other end of the Silver Triangle. I've not been inside but it ... doesn't look that nice and I've heard some bad things. PRIVATE HALLS NUA is expanding quite quickly and (especially in the midst of a pandemic) private halls have taken up the slack as the uni struggles to build more of its own halls quickly enough. Crown Place - one of those 'luxury student accommodations'. VERY expensive. If you think a 'private cinema' (i.e. a room with a really big TV), a games room and a gym is worth the extra money, then by all means go for it. It's right in the middle of the city centre too. But honestly the inside is like ASG but even more sterile, a couple of the flats are in the basement (!) and the reception staff are very insistent on signing you in and out, even at 2AM. Like full thumbprints and everything. Guest visits have currently been suspended in the midst of the pandemic. I went there a few weeks before they adopted this policy and am amazed I didn't get COVID. It's a hotspot. I assume the above description also applies to the other two major private halls complexes, Pablo Fanque and St Benedicts Gate, which I've not been inside. Heathfield Student Centre - renovated from an old care home, this is a bit cheaper than the other private accommodation options. It's over to the northeast of the city centre so a bit of a trek if most of your mates live in the Golden Triangle. Run by a very nice couple and comes equipped with a homely little garden, a mini library, a workshop space and a community centre with a home cinema, a ping pong table and two pianos, which is bookable for events and such. You have to sign a guest book going in and out but it's a lot more relaxed in that regard than Crown. Most of the rooms are decent sized. A little bit drab/old fashioned.
Uni library is currently operating in severely limited ways due to COVID but you can still check DVDs, books etc out easily (it's done by reservation and collection from the Duke Street foyer) and book computer time in a number of different spaces if you need. The Sound Studio is still easily bookable too, although the Film Studio is another matter. When the library is fully open, it's a nice study space, although much smaller than the library at UEA for instance. IT facilities generally are very good, the campus shop has some good discounts (as does the uni website for things like laptops), the Sound Studio as mentioned above is great, and you get access to Adobe Creative Cloud as well as streaming sites like Mubi and Box Of Broadcasts for free during your time as a student. The uni doesn't have a darkroom (they have a 'digital darkroom' which basically just means a Photography computer suite). I thought this was odd as even my secondary school had one. The Media Resource Centre, which you'll be using a LOT to book gear out if you're a Film student, is a bit of a shambles tbh. The paperwork is one thing, I get it's for insurance purposes etc, but as a Film student you're not actually allowed to book out equipment for personal projects. You can usually get away with it if it's just an overnight loan and during term time, but otherwise you'll need a lot of paperwork and permission from your course leader, who will probably be too busy. You do get access to a lot more equipment than other courses as a Film student but quite often the gear is faulty - sound gear is often in particularly bad condition. On many of my Year 2 shoots, several crews were finding it so difficult to get the equipment they needed, and in working order, from the MRC that they resorted to borrowing personal gear from the same student who then had to work out a schedule so everyone could use it!
Norwich is an excellently-sized city IMO. It's big enough that it has all the good stuff: a decent selection of music venues, clubs, record stores, places to go for food or coffee; LOADS of quality pubs; a thriving music and arts scene (at least pre-covid); the wonderful Norwich Market; and lots of parks and stuff to do - like a visit to the Cathedral or the Bridewell Museum, for instance, if that's your thing; alternatively, you can get a cheap train to the Broads or the coast! However it's also small enough - and geographically isolated enough - that it still has a unique local character, a slightly 'rural' vibe. You can get around the city quickly and will have gotten to know it very well by the end of your first year. Everyone knows everyone which can be both a good and a bad thing. In short, if you're from a bigger city and want to get away from it without sacrificing convenience or culture, Norwich is a good shout; similarly, if you're from the country and hesitant about jumping straight into city life in somewhere like London or Manchester, then Norwich will probably be good for you.
NUA is a smaller uni, so there aren't a huge amount of societies, but the ones that do exist have a good range. One of my biggest regrets about my time here is that I didn't get involved with any societies, but I've heard good things.
It's easy to apply for an extension when you need it. staff on Film are generally pretty accommodating when it comes to personal issues affecting your performance. As well as an extension, you can apply for Extenuating Circumstances so they take your personal problems into account when marking your work. The student support facilities at the uni have generally been very good. Pre-COVID there were regular student union events such as 'pet therapy'. When I contacted the support team about my mental health, I was able to have a chat with Vicky the same week, which was reassuring and constructive. The uni can provide up to six free counselling sessions per academic year from a third party, the Norwich Centre, which was easy to book, although I did have to wait for quite a few weeks for a slot to become available. I didn't have a very good rapport with my counsellor so chose not to go back after the first session, but obviously this will be different for everyone. I imagine the counselling will be online now, and possibly a bit harder to get access too as we are in a mental health pandemic as well as a COVID one. The uni has handled COVID pretty well in terms of offering support, from what I've seen. You do get the sense that the uni staff, as a whole, care about mental health.
How the uni handled coronavirus was embarrassing. The teaching was limited. The library and design workshops are good but too many students sharing. The life drawing resources were very handy.
The course has few actual classes in terms of concrete skills and knowledge that I can tell future employers or schools “I had a class in .....”. This was something I missed and have found to be a problem. There is a focus on freedom to develop with guidance from teachers, however we are WAY to many students for this to work, let alone to develop a fruitful class community. Some of the tutors let their bias taste have an effect on how the guided and judged.
I have rented through 3 different landlords and letting agents. Private landlord was nice, I only rented the room which removed a lot of housemate tension. AbbotFox was a bad experience, my landlord tried to take way to much of our deposit and the agency was difficult to communicate with. Prolet was a nice experience, helpful and effective.
Really good facilities, but too many students sharing them. But can be difficult to use or get involved with when teaching and academic guidance is so weak.
Yes, the best thing about the uni is location in the city centre
Could be better
It’s fine, but again too many students to really get the best out of it
Not as exciting as I expected. I also don't feel as ready for the outside world as I hoped. My tutors are lovely though, and very understanding of personal issues.
We studied career devolopment all through second year and we're touching on it this year.
What I like most is there's a lot of freedom, what I don't like is that they changed the structure of 3rd year and it's caused everyone pain.
I don't really know what they do in all honesty, but I recently saw a poster about how they have a service with a local taxi company where the SU will pay the bill incase you don't have the money.
They're OK, the stop motion studios could be bigger and there could be more of them since they get booked up very quickly.
Being in Norwich City centre, it couldn't be in a better location.
Amazing, and they're really open about starting new societies.
Academic, really good but personal could do with some improvement.
My overall university experience so far has been very good with meeting really lovely people within my accommodation to meeting new like minded people on my course. The work takes a bit of getting used to after A levels and a foundation however once you get into it it's really enjoyable and very useful.
As a first year student I've not experienced too much of this yet however we spend the first year trying to get our skills in a mind set where we dont go for the straight forward way of thinking.
My faviourite part about the course is how frequently there are lectures around to help with current projects and help you improve through out the week not just at crits. I'd have to say the part about the course I like the least is the 2 week projects, however I like how vast the projects we do are which wouldn't be possible without the 3 week projects withing first year.
The student union is really well run with events going on through out the year which most of the time are free or cost very little. The uni doesn't have a main facility to run events which means they go out of their way to put on activities in places around the city.
Although the university's small they have a lot of facilities such as print rooms, 3D workshops, computers and macs . There's also huge studo spaces, lecture theaters and a big libary!
The location of the accomidation is closer walking distance then the suggested 15 minutes but only takes less than 10 minutes. There's loads of amenities about such as wilko's round the corner aswell as Sainsburys being across the road and a Sainsburys local and tesco extra also beign just down the road.
The clubs and societies run through the actual university is limited, however there is the oppourtunity to join uea's clubs and societies if people wish too.
The support at the uni is good, the lectures are alwasy willing to help with frequent feedback. Although I've not experienced the personal support I know there are the people there to help if i need it for things such as housing and dyslexia testing
It is a lot of work, there is a lot of stuff to do, research and learn but I like it and I feel this university is tacking care of my future as I am sure this is what it takes to be good at what I would like to do.
I feel there is never enough time but the course is well made, I am learning a lot.
The student union is well organised, quite active.
Easy to find
I am not living in any of the accomodations offered by the university but I know they are close. All the uni buildings are in the city centre.
I have not been in touch with any of them yet.
There is a lot of support everytime.
Made some good friends and its opened up some new ways of working. Overall I would like more contact time and more technique/teaching. The staff are all excellent as are the technicians.
They incorporate live opportunities in the course and encourage collaboration. There are opportunities on the Erasmus exchange and a team that work on employability skills and post graduation support.
The staff are excellent as is their knowledge and they are extremely supportive and encouraging in the development of ideas. Contact time and the number of workshops available is personally disappointing but representative of existing levels in higher education so I believe.
The SU are very active and welconing to comments and feedback. They represent students well and organise lots of events.
The workshop facilities and staff are excellent and make every attempt to provide you with the required time slthough demand can sonetimes mean facility options are difficult. Generally though facilities are good.
The NUA campus is situated in the centre of the city and is therefore at the centre of all amenities and accessible to trains, buses, shops, accomodation and museums/places of interest. Its an easy place to walk around or cycle if you choose.
There is a wide range of societies with the option to start your own and an active SU that arranges lots of activities and opportunities.
Support is very good in academic and non academic areas judging from myself and peers. Tutorials are good but not frequent enough although we have open sessions when we can have feedback from a tutor other than the one assigned.
I have been there only for three months so far, but I find it complete; anything a student need is there. The course could be more complete for practical lesson that are almost missing.
university organize a range of session with different companies, connects you with them and update you with available jobs or contests
flexibility and knowledge, but we do not have many hours of practice lessons
very good, the library has many options and the mrc is well furnished. It is a good opportunity
Yes, the university is 15/20 min walk from my accomodation and is located inside the town. This allows me to make my grocery shopping after lessons!
There is a good variety of societies but they are usually attended by undergraduates
I never needed personal support, but I know is very helpful and many student are happy about it. Tutors are always open to have a chat and happy to help.
It is interesting. I am satisfied by the overall quality of the courses and grateful for all the chances that the University gives me both inside and out of the course. I wish we were slightly more artistically challenged
The film career is a very competitive one and our lecturers do the best they can to make us aware and prepare us. Their goal is for us to graduate having acquired a professional outlook
We are given the chance to work in a variety of projects and therefore we get to experience different scenarios and circumstances, however we don't have enough time to fully flesh out our idea, nor enough creative challenges to make us better artists. There is also a lack of theoretical courses
The student's union is very good and represents the students in the fullest
Since Norwich is a very small town accommodation to university distances are more than doable on foot and even easier if you own a bike
We are lacking on societies since we are a very small University, however the few we have provide a variety of hobbies
Personal counselling has a very strong team. Academic feedback is usually useful but it can get stale at points