Plymouth has a lot going for it from a student’s point of view.
True, it’s not renowned as a magnet for the fashionable set. In fact it was the butt of many a vicious joke after winning the dubious honour of having the “worst dressed people in the UK” in a fashion survey.
So if you’re looking for the elite, the cosmopolitan, plummy public school accents and plenty of panache then you’ve probably ended up in the wrong place. Go east!
But if you want cheap student bars, loads of live gigs and almost every activity imaginable – out on the ocean or in the stunning countryside which borders the city on three sides – then you’ve hit the jackpot.
There’s everything here from paintballing to Plymouth Pavilions. There are Bohemian bars and burlesque shows. From gay clubs to grim back street “massage parlours”, there’s just about every form of entertainment you’d expect to find in a city catering to the many and various needs of a 250,000-strong population.
Plymouth is the 15th largest city in the UK and the University of Plymouth student population alone is 30,000. That’s before you add students from the Plymouth College of Art and Design (PCAD), the College of St Mark and St John (Marjon), City College and many others into the mix.
The result is a city which bends over backwards to give students everything they could wish for when it comes to making the most of their leisure time. That means plenty of discount booze, good nightlife, live bands to suit all musical tastes and of course an unhealthy dollop of kebab houses, burger bars and KFCs.
During Freshers’ Week, the uni’s Students’ Union plies newbies with bags of free goodies from local bars and other businesses anxious to snare their share of the lucrative student market.
Flash your NUS card to get generous discounts on everything from killer shots to purchases from the local pawnbrokers.
The uni and local colleges offer a huge range of clubs, societies and activities for students along with help in finding part time work or volunteering opportunities in the local community. The work will help fund all the fun stuff and volunteering will look good on your CV (not to mention making you feel good about yourself!).
On summer days when the sun’s shining, students swarm to Plymouth Hoe and hang out for hours on end. Girls gossip and sunbathe, blokes play football and show off to the girls and barbecues proliferate in what has to rank as one of the most stunning picnic spots to be found in any UK city.
The Hoe hosts regular funfairs and major free events including the national Fireworks Championships which attracts tens of thousands of spectators.
When the weather’s playing up, Drake Circus shopping mall is a popular student haunt. It houses all the big name fashion favourites with fast food regulars on the top floor and the usual suspects on the ground floor (Boots, Waterstone’s, Clinton Cards, Virgin Media etc).
The Barbican Leisure Park offers ten pin bowling, the 15-screen Vue cinema for all the latest movies, the Oceana nightclub and several popular eateries including Nando’s and Frankie and Benny’s.
Students can enjoy some brilliant days out on a budget. Hop on a bus from Plymouth to wonderful Whitsand Bay in Cornwall, take the little ferry (in the summer months) from the Barbican over to the achingly pretty twin villages of Kingsand and Cawsand or go by train to the picturesque fishing port at Looe.