University excursions

One of the pleasant by products of having university age children is that you must visit them during the different phases of their studies. In this context, half term had an end of era feel for me and Moony as it is our youngest’s last year at Edinburgh. Our visits over the past 7 years have therefore taken us to London, Bristol, Edinburgh, Lyon, Naples, Mozambique and San Diego. The one place we didn’t get to was Colombia. As we only have three children, you may be wondering how they have spread themselves so far afield, from London, Bristol and Edinburgh where they started out. Well, the boys did languages (French and Italian; Spanish and Portuguese) and our daughter had a year of her history degree at UC San Diego.

Re-visiting Edinburgh and also spending a couple of days as a tourist in Newcastle, I am reminded how at university the environment you find yourself in is at least as important as the formal teaching you receive. Soaking up Georgian Newcastle and strolling along the Quayside, admiring two of the most striking pieces of recent British urban architecture – the Millennium Bridge and the Sage – you feel that students at Northumbria and Newcastle universities are breathing this civilizing air, albeit whilst enjoying some piquant night life. It’s unsurprising to me that Northumbria – nursery of Sir Jonathan Ive –  is considered the top destination for Industrial Design. Edinburgh’s Enlightenment spirit is palpable and, once that ritual of freshers’ stuff is over, the tone of undergraduate life is, again maybe unsurprisingly, mellow and civilized. It is rare to bump into a former Bedales student in such places and for them not to comment on how beautiful the place is where they are studying.

Tomorrow at the governors’ education sub-committee, we will be talking about trends in Bedalians’ university applications; interesting to see that Bristol has shot firmly to the top, followed closely by Exeter, Edinburgh and Manchester. All are vibrant cities. If you put the London universities together (UCL, KCL, University of the Arts [UAL], Goldsmith’s and Royal Holloway) then you have a considerable number applying to London, but only UAL matches the other provincial destinations.

As for years abroad I will keep plugging them, as I think that the flexibility and resilience required in adapting and prospering in another culture provides another dimension to the university experience. You do not need to do languages to have a year abroad; there are many other routes, Erasmus especially.

By Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales School


Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.