Birmingham is named friendliest student region

21 June 2005

Birmingham is named friendliest student region

ASTON UNIVERSITY and the University of Birmingham have been named in the top 10 in a survey of the UK’s friendliest universities by Friends Reunited. Aston took sixth place, narrowly ahead of Birmingham in seventh, making Birmingham one of the most friendly student regions in the UK.

The reunion website, which has more than 12 million members, has revealed a complete league table of Britain’s friendliest universities for the first time.

Friends Reunited created the University Friendship League Table by analysing the millions of emails sent via the website between the ex-students of all Britain’s universities and colleges to see who keeps in touch the most. Hull heads the first top 100.

Professor Mike Wright, Vice Chancellor of Aston University, said: ‘I am delighted with this result. As a University that has strong ties with its alumni we know that people that come to Aston make lasting friendships. The close-knit campus community and lively social activities ensure that people get to know one another really well as soon as they join us.’

Third year Aston University Pharmacy student, Richard Ketley added: ‘Aston stuck out as the only university I visited which was interested in me and how to develop my learning – it was much friendlier. You can walk to the nightlife and back again, shopping is just across the road and you can go almost anywhere in the country as New Street Station is just a short walk away. Facilities are quite big for the amount of students that we have.

‘The city is fantastic and there is so much more than I expected. Birmingham has jumped into the 21st Century with a bang. It’s lively and a great place to live.’

The Aston University Alumni department is very active in encouraging graduates to keep in touch. Two popular reunions have been arranged for next month. On 2 July 2005 is the class of ’95 and 2000 reunion and on 9th July is the Fondue Memories reunion for people who graduated from Aston between 2001 and 2004. For further information please contact Caroline Hidson on 0121 204 4543.

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For further press information please contact Babs Coombes on 0121 204 4549 or email b.a.l.coombes@aston.ac.uk

Notes to editors:

The friendliest year at Aston University is 1973; a quote is available from a 1973 graduate on request.

Further information about the study and its findings is available on request.

Top ten friendliest universities:


Former students registered

Total messages sent

Average messages sent per student

Friendliness Rating


University of Hull






Goldsmiths College - London University






De Montfort University






Manchester Metropolitan University






Leicester University






Aston University






University of Birmingham






Edinburgh University






Glasgow University






University of Newcastle upon Tyne





Other findings in the study:

The second half of the 1960s was the best time ever to be at university, according to thousands of Britain’s current and former students who have contributed to a major study of student life through the decades.

And, adding to the flower power mythology, website Friends Reunited has revealed that students who studied in the Sixties and early Seventies have remained friendlier with each other than those from any other era.

Yet, Sixties students now admit they were actually far more worried about getting good qualifications and much less concerned about having a good time than are the students of today!

The findings come in a survey of the student years carried out among users of Friends Reunited as the website reveals a league table of Britain’s friendliest universities for the very first time.

Steve Pankhurst, Friends Reunited co-founder, said: “The general view is that free love and youthful rebellion made university a student paradise in the late Sixties. So it’s eye-opening that people who were actually there at the time now say that getting a good education was far more important to them than having a wild social life!

“Since the Sixties, people’s reasons for wanting to go to university have steadily shifted from gaining qualifications to having a good time and making new friends. It’s ironic then, that some two thirds of contemporary students lament that university isn’t as much fun as it used to be!”

Friends Reunited’s survey of 4,139 site users who went to or now attend university shows that even in the first half of the Seventies just seven per cent of students said ‘having a good time’ was the most important reason to be a student and ‘gaining qualifications’ was cited as most important by 50%. The balance gradually changes over the years until today more than twice as many students say they’re at university to have a good time and only 36% put qualifications first.

An insight into the changing nature of student life was provided by one ex student who attended Leicester University in the second half of the Seventies (and prefers not to be named): “Compared with now it seems a good time to have been at university as it was a very social place with no TVs or computers in rooms, cheap bar in Hall, no mobile phones - the Hall had four payphones for 200-plus students.”

Professor Ivor Gaber, a graduate of Warwick University in the late Sixties, recalls his student days as ‘liberating’ and ‘life changing’. He said: “There was a real sense of being special, though many people had the qualifications very few people made it to university then. We all believed we could make a difference: the political atmosphere was changing with the Anti-Apartheid Movement for example and there was a feeling that we were part of that change. Also on a practical level, the state grant meant we had no financial worries so we weren’t as oppressed as the students of today and spent more time socializing.”

The best of times

• Of those currently at university, 62% think it’s not as much fun as it used to be. But the present day scores most highly for the standard of education received.

• The second summer of love outdoes the first one as the peak of student social life. The 1990-94 era, when the club/rave scene was young scores highest for socialising.

• 1970 to 74 was the best time for an active ‘love life’.

The course view

• Teaching and geography come out joint first as the best courses for making friends, followed by medicine, then art/drama.

• Geography is top rated for social life, followed by teaching.

• Medicine and teaching are rated most highly for the standard of education.

• History and politics are the highest rated for a good love life.

Student grub

Spaghetti Bolognese was identified as the all-time classic student meal, ahead of baked beans on toast and takeaway pizza.

The booze question

Nearly three quarters of students from all eras confirm it’s a myth that students spend all their money on drink and drugs!

The survey also charts the rise and rise of lager as the student’s favourite tipple. In the first half of the Sixties, a massive 60% of students rated bitter as the favourite drink and it remained in first place ahead of cider until the end of the Seventies. Lager squeezed in front of cider into second place in the Eighties and was just five per cent behind bitter in popularity by 1994 (bitter 32%, lager 27%) with cider still third. Today, lager leads as top student drink on 20%, even though it has a smaller following than in the mid Nineties. Vodka and gin have suddenly taken over second place with 19% of the vote, with bitter in third place on 18%.


Analysis of the millions of emails sent via Friends Reunited between the ex-students of all Britain’s universities and colleges means Britain’s friendliest universities can be revealed for the first time.

Hull heads the top 100 as the university whose ex-students stay in touch with each other the most through the Friends Reunited service. Famous Hull students include film director Anthony Minghella, Coronation Street actor Sally Lindsay and author Roger McGough. Poet Philip Larkin was also the University’s Librarian for three decades.

Ex-student Craig Fitzpatrick, who attended from 1995-99, said: “Hull was a good city to be in; not too big, but with plenty going on and most things were student-orientated. The student body seemed very down to earth. University isn’t just about education, it’s about personal growth too, and Hull provided both in good measure.”

University of Hull Vice-Chancellor, Professor David Drewry said: “The University of Hull is committed to ensuring all its students enjoy a first-class experience, both in terms of their education and their personal development.

“I am delighted that the unique atmosphere of friendship and community, of which we are so proud at the University, has provided a basis for so many friendships that have lasted beyond graduation.”

London University’s Goldsmiths College is in second place. Ex-students include comedian Julian Clary, artist Damien Hirst and inventor of the mini-skirt Mary Quant.

Professor Geoffrey Crossick, Warden of Goldsmiths, said: "There's a real buzz about the place and its positive, enthusiastic nature really shines through from students and staff who are encouraged to collaborate across subject boundaries. Staff and students keep in touch way after graduation and I'm pleased to see how our unique ethos is reflected in our position in the Friends Reunited table."

Leicester’s De Montfort University, attended by actor Charles Dance, is third.

Professor Philip Tasker, Vice-Chancellor of De Montfort University, said:� “Going to university is about much more than obtaining an excellent qualification; it is also about forming important relationships, which in many cases remain for life. We feel proud and privileged to be able to play a part in this.”

Manchester Metropolitan (Steve Coogan, Mick Hucknall, Bryan Robson) is fourth and the University of Leicester (Bob Mortimer, Tony Underwood, Sue Cook) fifth.

Friendliest student years

Friends Reunited has also revealed that, overall, people who were students during the 1960s and early Seventies are the friendliest with each other today. Analysis of contact emails sent nationally shows that students who left university in 1973 stay in touch the most, followed by the years of 1969, ’68, ’65, ’64, ’66, ’69, ’74, ’67 and ’70.

Steve Pankhurst, Friends Reunited co-founder, said: “We’ve waited until we have sufficient numbers of ex-students using the site to make these figures public – and with more than 12 million users we can now make meaningful comparisons.

“The extraordinary numbers of ex students who use Friends Reunited to stay in touch seems to confirm that university is not just about continuing your education – it’s about learning about life and making friends for life.”

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