The University of East London is based in London’s Royal Docks on the edge of Royal Albert dock.
Granted university status in only 1992, the University of East London, also known as ‘UEL’ is a very new university in comparison to the UK’s other better known universities, despite this however, UEL does have a long history as a technical and later polytechnic institute.
Established in 1898 and originally based in Stratford the university was considered a “people’s university” after the Borough of West Ham decided that East London needed a grand local institute which could help people of the local area gain a higher education and prepare them for the working world. Thus, the West Ham Technical Institute was born.
The early 1900s saw the institute teaching a number of degree level courses such as arts, literature and construction which were approved by the University of London. As time went on, however, the demand for technical education grew and two more colleges were built in Dagenham and Walthamstow.
In 1970 the three colleges were combined in order to create the North East London Polytechnic also known as NELP. Following the combining of the colleges, the university was modernised by the creation of various buildings such as the Arthur Edwards building in Stratford which was completed in 1982.
Six years later in 1988 NELP was granted status as a Higher Education Corporation and renamed the Polytechnic of East London. The following year saw the Barking Regional College of Technology become the Barking campus. 1992 was a breakthrough year for the Polytechnic of East London as it was granted full university status consisting of two campuses located at Stratford and Barking. The latter was closed in 2006.
In 2000 a new campus was opened in Docklands by Ken Livingstone who had recently been installed as the new Mayor of London. This campus is the biggest of Docklands and Stratford and houses a number of buildings including the university’s main library which remains open 24/7, the East Building which includes John Smith’s Bookshop for all of your study needs from pens and paper to laptops, the AVA – audio and visual arts – building where a number of arts exhibitions are held throughout the academic year, Main Lecture Theatre (MLT) and a number of coffee shops along with the canteen and SU bar.
UEL’s student accommodation is also located at the Docklands campus.
UEL currently offers over 130 courses in a number of industries including humanities, science, arts, finance, sports, architecture and construction.
For those who are interested in studying the “classic” subjects the humanities department offers degrees such as English literature and language, sociology and psychology. Beyond this there are also the slightly more modern degree subjects such as creative writing, film and media. This department has helped graduates gain well paid and enjoyable employment in copywriting, journalism and teaching.
The science department offers degrees including human and micro biology, pharmaceutical science, pharmacology and medical physiology amongst others.
The finance department, aimed at those looking to work in and/or improve financial situations offers three courses: finance, accounts & finance and economics all of which will helps individuals gain employment within the finance sectors. You never know, one day you could find yourself working near the top floor of Canary Wharf’s famous HSBC building and taking in the well lit skyline of London.
If construction is more your thing why not apply to study Civil Engineering, a course which will provide you with the technical knowledge you will need to enter the engineering industry. Similarly, UEL also offers an architectural degree if architectural engineering and building technology are two things you are interested in.
UEL’s Combined Honours department allows applicants to study two subjects in one degree. Popular combinations include English with Creative Writing, sociology with psychology and law with finance.
More information can be found at http://www.uel.ac.uk/schools/
Facilities and Entertainment
Throughout the Docklands campus there are many places in which students can sit and relax with a hot drink or have a night out with friends.
The Underground bar is UEL’s main social area. A place which sells cheap drinks from Cointreu to bottled water, the Underground has two pool tables and plenty of seating. The selection of different beers and ciders isn’t wide, but all of the popular ones are sold, from your typical lager to bottled ales such as London Pride and Spitfire. The only soft drinks currently available are lemonade and Pepsi.
Events in the Underground include karaoke, weekly drum and bass nights playing all the newest hits (I find this fact a little disappointing as I prefer the older 90s stuff, but the nights are popular with lots of drinks on offer) and, on the odd occasion, a heavy metal night. With the speakers facing away from the dance floor, however, it’s hard to hear anybody speak during these events so it’s recommended you visit the bar through the day if you wish to have a quiet/social drink with friends. Entrance to the events cost £2 after 8pm but get there an hour or two before and entrance is free.
Located beside the docks in University Square, the green is another popular social area for students, especially on a sunny day. An afternoon in lectures can be tiring so why not run to the corner shop just over the road, grab a couple of drinks and join friends for a few hours on the green and take in the sights of the sparkling dock waters and planes landing at London City Airport?
East Building is where most lectures are held as well as being the location of John Smith’s bookshop and the canteen which sells a wide range of food from jacket potatoes to cheesy pasta. Further up is a small take out Costa if you want to grab a hot drink before lectures. In John Smith’s you’ll be able to find all of your course readings, stationery, laptops and cameras, all of which can be bought using the free John Smith’s bursary which is renewed yearly and beside the bookshop is a small convenience store selling magazines, food and a small range of medicine and cleaning products.
The East Building also holds frequent stall days in which you’ll be able to sign up for driving lessons or insurance, join a society or just collect a free pen if you’ve left yours at home or in your previous lecture. The weekly SWSS (Socialist Workers Student Society) meeting is also held here on a Wednesday evening if you happen to take an interest in left wing politics.
The sandwich shop opposite East Building sells various hand-made baguettes and sandwiches with a different menu each day and is a good place to buy lunch if the canteen offerings don’t take your interest. Although slightly more expensive than the Asda round the corner, the sandwich shop’s food is filling and pleasing to the palette.
If keeping fit and healthy is something you enjoy doing then UEL has just the thing for you: the new multi-million pound SportsDock which, when completed in 2012, was used by the GB Olympic team.
Open to both students and the public, the SportsDock houses a number of facilities including a large gym, indoor and outdoor 5-a-side football pitches and tennis and badminton courts. What’s more is that your UEL bursary can be used to pay the fees.
Since 2012, lecture attendance records have been kept by using a touch-in card system similar to the Oyster travel cards. Simply hold your student card against the reader by the door, wait for it to bleep and the light to flash green and your attendance will be registered. The card also works as a security device which grants entry into the library and certain parts of each building.
The library holds close to any book you can think of along with new computers, printers and photocopiers, all of which also use the student card security system. Just click the print button and swipe your card and you’ll have your document or picture printed instantly. Open 24/7 through term time you don’t need to worry about the library being closed when at 2am you realise you’ve forgotten to pick up a certain book.
Stratford’s campus, although smaller, houses new laboratories and computing systems/areas and is located close to Stratford High Street where the famous Westfield Shopping Centre is.
Find out more here: http://www.uel.ac.uk/campuses/
UEL’s accommodation in the student village is a colourful sight with four rectangular buildings painted red, yellow, blue and green inside and out and various other round buildings in similar colours. Each flat comes equipped with en-suite bedrooms with a personal shower, toilet and large desk, a communal kitchen and large dining areas which offer impressive views across the docks.
Kitchens come equipped with all basic amenities such as a four hob cooker, oven, kettle and toaster and kitchen sink while the dining area holds a table and four chairs, great for when you want to have a night in with a few friends playing Monopoly or Jenga.
Within the student village is a small coin operated launderette with washing machines and tumble dryers for when you run out of clean clothes to wear and smoking areas just outside of the buildings.
Flats cost around £350 per month with studio flats costing slightly less.
Full details and pictures can be seen at http://www.uel.ac.uk/residential/
If you wish to study and live in London but in one of the quieter, less expensive areas compared to the metropolis then choosing UEL as a place to study higher education would be a wise decision.