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It’s hip to be ranked

It had to happen - Paul Greatrix discovers a pair of rankings concerning how "hip" universities are.
This article is more than 6 years old

Paul Greatrix is Registrar at The University of Nottingham, author and creator of Registrarism and a Contributing Editor of Wonkhe.

I recently happened across two related rankings which offer league tables of institutions rated according their hipness. I can’t believe it took me so long to comment on these. This one identifies the most hipster colleges in the US and there is an Australian one too of which more later. Looking first at the happening US institutions some of the defining features include:

  • for their organic-only farm fresh needs, they have the campus’s Concho Community Garden or Hopes Farmer Market at their fingertips
  • “I’ve seen several people transport with unicycle[s]. One professor used to enter lecture hall riding on it,” junior Electrical Engineering and Computer Science major Tommy Ogura said.
  • students hit up Fourth St and The Uptown in Oakland for their hipster needs, complete with Artis Coffee where coffee beans are roasted on site one pound at a time
  • From their 480 acre nature preserve to a student operated farm with goats and fresh herbs, there’s a steady stream of earth-friendly options.
  • Students can even express their progressive ideas with their five student publications, as well as a student-run record label and radio station — every establishment-hating writers’ dream.
  • Even the usual bathrooms get kicked to the curb, as the progressive students brought in co-ed bathrooms to be inclusive of the whole student population.
  • With majors like Philosophy and Religious studies as the most popular, free thinking is required.
  • The annual arts and crafts fair gives students the chance to decorate their rooms with all sorts of unique trinkets.
  • Students channel their emotions into expressing themselves at places outside the typical clubs with organizations like the Surrealist Training Circus.
  • individuality is everywhere from the food to the squirrels. “Throw in some albino squirrels and the result is a chickpea eating, doc martin sporting, pure tom foolery,” Third year sociology major Dan Lev said.
  • “You would be hard-pressed to find a student on Reed not sipping on a yerba mate, listening to Andrew Jackson Jihad, and talking canonical texts over a nice, local, vegan lunch,” freshman biology major Leilani Ganser said
  • Activities that none of us have ever heard of are the norm, such as star sign parties that have sage cleanses and celebrate the current zodiac sign. “Many parties feature polaroid or film cameras, LCD sound system/arcade fire based playlists, mom jeans and turtlenecks, ironic t-shirts, etc,” sophomore film student Caroline Rugo said. “If I scroll through my Facebook feed, I always see my NYU friends checking into events that are either super ironic (‘stay in bed and contemplate suicide’) or extremely hipster (‘John Hughes Trivia Night).”

NYU is one of the larger and more global universities in the world. To be No 1 in the hipster rankings is pretty impressive although I’m not sure that a John Hughes trivia night is quite so totally out there. It’s not immediately obvious how a UK equivalent of this league table would look although many universities do offer degrees in Philosophy and Religious Studies. My guess though is that it would be mainly populated by universities and colleges where art, design, fashion etc are majority offerings which probably means University of the Arts London is nailed on for the top slot. Although any university offering a surrealist training circus would have to be in with a shout.

Meanwhile, in Australia they’ve ranked their hippest universities by their ‘Microburbs’

So you’ve decided to go to uni but not sure which uni will have a great student life to accompany your degree. You also want to live in an area that is affordable but isn’t boring. On top of all that, you want your uni to have a good academic ranking. Using the Microburbs ‘Hip’ score, we’ve found the Universities in Australia that have great ethnic diversity, are easy to cycle to, have plenty of young singles and plenty of good cafes, pubs and bars.

There are some excellent examples here of what makes a hip ‘Microburb’ (certainly I would imagine ever using that word to describe your neighbourhood has to preclude all consideration of hipness but this is Australia) including the following:

  • “a 40 minute bus to Australia’s most hyped regional sin city Nimbin and 44 minute bus to the world famous Byron Bay; two of the most ‘go to’ tourist destinations in regional Australia”. Plus a listed rainforest
  • Surfers Paradise and “huge beaches and plenty of young, friendly European tourists to mingle with”
  • “Nobby’s beach, the vivid nightlife but also the Newcastle night markets which feature street foods, craft beers and artisan foods”
  • “a cultural hub of underground music venues, Newtown night markets, good food and wine festival plus the occasional do-it-yourself Cafe.”
  • “What Melbourne lacks in harbour bridges and opera houses is made up for in laneways and trams, 24 hour nightlife and no lockout laws which make it a great playground for uni students.”

So, how cool are our UK university neighbourhoods and what examples of hip happenings on campus would make your institution top of the hipster rankings here? NB you really do need to do better than a couple of dudes turning up to lectures on unicycles.

2 responses to “It’s hip to be ranked

  1. St Martin’s college, shirley?
    Also, an honourable shout to the student who unicycled while I was at university… in Sheffield!

  2. I still see him around and about in Sheffield. He must’ve been here at least 10 years by now.

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