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Top unis for political scene: Which? University Student Survey 2017

University is often the place where students get more involved in politics as they meet others with vastly different backgrounds and perspectives. Which universities were ranked highest by students for their engaging political scene?

We surveyed more than 8,000 undergrads in the Which? University Student Survey 2017 to find out how they rate their university on the range of political groups, societies and activities around them.

Top universities for political scene

University of Cambridge

University of Sussex - Which? University Student Survey 2016

Students recommend getting involved

'There are plenty of opportunities to meet new people, and my advice would be to take as many as you can and try everything once!’

'Don't be afraid to ask a lot of questions.'


Goldsmiths, University of London

University of Sussex - Which? University Student Survey 2016

The people

Students were enthusiastic about what makes a great political uni...

'The people. It's as if you can have a conversation with anybody and it would be an awesome conversation. From talking about politics to music. Goldsmiths has a great atmosphere'

'Everyone is very welcoming and talkative.’


LSE, University of London

London School of Economics, University of London - Which? University Student Survey 2016


According to the general secretary of LSE's student union,  Busayo Twins: ‘LSE is definitely a hub for debate and intellectualism. No matter your political inclination this university encourages its students to speak out, challenge, engage, create, and research topics that matter to one another. Whether it’s a student-led campaign or focus group created by the students themselves, a political conversation is always happening.

'In addition, with so much diversity it's inevitable that a plethora of ideas reach campus and the students are really encouraged to think beyond their experiences and acknowledge each other.’


University of Manchester

University of Sussex - Which? University Student Survey 2016


Students from the University of Manchester suggested making the most of being new....

'Make sure you seize opportunities to meet new people and do new things’

'Speak to as many new people as you can. Don't worry about not making friends or being judged!'


University of Oxford

University of Oxford - Which? University Student Survey

The history

Jack Hampton, president of the uni's student union, said: 'Oxford is a famously good place to get involved in party politics – just think of the wide variety of political leaders that have come out of Oxford, across the whole political spectrum and a wide variety of sectors.

'But political involvement goes far beyond the political clubs. Our active student union and 38 colleges, as well as a huge array of other clubs and societies, provide an unparalleled amount of possibilities for getting involved in student representation.'


University of Sussex

University of Sussex - Which? University Student Survey 2016


A University of Sussex rep provided the following comment: 'The University of Sussex prides itself on being a place that encourages debate and challenges the status quo, across the political spectrum. Located on the edge of the vibrant city of Brighton, we are part of a diverse and accepting community with a great nightlife and cultural scene.'

A recent graduate said: 'The student body at Sussex and its Students' Union has a lively history of political activism; boycotting unfair exams, challenging eurocentric discourse in subjects taught, supporting South African students during the Apartheid to study here through a scholarship (which continues today), fighting campus privatisation and the occupation of Palestine.'

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    Special mention: SOAS, University of London

    Previously rated one of our top political unis as well, this year SOAS fell slightly short of the minimum threshold of student respondents to be considered representative for our ratings. However, we felt that they deserved a special mention.

    SOAS, University of London

    A representative from SOAS said: 'With a focus on Asia, Africa and the Middle East from the perspective of these regions, SOAS looks at the world differently that is what makes us special.  

    'SOAS students grapple with pressing issues democracy, development, human rights, identity, legal systems, poverty, religion, social change and we encourage them to make a positive impact on the world.
    'SOAS is a hub for social and political student life in London. Our Students' Union has over 160 unique societies and hosts renowned guest speakers and lively political debates. Our academics regularly welcome leading politicians, diplomats and social activists to speak at our events. This active and involving atmosphere at SOAS invites students to engage with the world around them.'


    About the Which? University Student Survey 2017

    We asked students to score their university on how active a political scene there was to get involved in.

    We merged the findings from surveying students in March-April 2017 with results from our March-April 2016 student survey so we could characterise a greater number of institutions, using a larger combined base of around 8,745 students.

    Where we have answers from at least 30 students, we analyse the results to calculate average scores and to highlight the group of top-performing universities overall.

    Note: Third year students in the 2016 cohort were excluded from this year’s data set as they would have finished their course.

    Read the full results of the Which? University Student Survey 2017

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