Soton vs. Solent: What’s the Problem?

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Some are saying that it's 'memes' like this - from both sides - which are causing the divide between the two Universities to widen

From the moment the innocent Fresher arrives at the University of Southampton, it becomes common knowledge that Southampton Solent University are classed as ‘the enemy’. Bigger than any inter-hall rivalry, there are chants and Facebook groups, there was a relatively ridiculously idea of ‘Uni Wars’ at Orange Rooms one night in January… and of course there is the explosive new fad of ‘memes’, all of which serve to highlight the ‘divide’ between the two Universities of Southampton. Is all this innocent banter, or can we sense a slightly more sinister twist in the rivalry behind the jibes?

Having a friend who attends Solent, I can say from experience that flat mates and social nights hold a clear – but not a bad – difference, regarding both the kinds of people who attend the Universities and their general attitudes to life. From the moment I stepped into her (my friend’s) flat during Fresher’s Week, one of the girls along her corridor burst out of her room in a flurry of fake-tan and leopard print nails. She demanded to know why we (one of the other girls in my friendship group, who also goes to Southampton University, was with me), people from ‘the OTHER Uni’, were in the flat. She then proceeded to ignore us; flouncing off to the beat of chart music blasting so loud it caused the floor to reverberate.

Now, perhaps this girl was purely lacking in common decency, but to act with such contempt towards two people she had never met before seemed to take slightly too far the inter-Uni rivalry. Of course, I can’t from this experience assume that all individuals at the Solent behave like this (aforementioned bitch has now moved out of the flat because no-one liked her): on the contrary, after the initial bad start with this particular individual who treated my friend and the rest of her flat mates like they were beneath her, my friend has joined societies and made close friends without any problem at all, just like I have. However, on a fairly regular basis at the beginning of Semester One, she said ‘I think the people at your Uni are just more my kind of people.’ I found this an interesting way of putting it. How can a different university automatically ensure a different kind of person and who exactly are the kinds of people which Solent lack?

Southampton Solent gained University status in 2005, and offers degrees, foundation degrees and higher national diplomas in courses such as ‘Football Studies (BA)’, ‘Art Collections and Art Collectors in History’ and ‘Yacht Production and Surveying (BEng)’. Horrendously snobbish is what I am not; I hasten to add that if these subjects are where your strengths lie, then by all means go to Solent.

The high employment rates which come out of this University (around 80% are in full-time employment after graduation) point to the simple fact that actually, vocational courses may prepare you a lot better for an immediate start to the work force. But looking at this kind of course, I understand what my friend means by ‘they’re not my kind of people’. Students at the University of Southampton are introduced to a varied range of people and activities, something that comes naturally with the variety of subjects the University covers.

Perhaps you don’t really need to go to University to collect art (or maybe I’m just being churlish) but I’ve a suspicion the ‘rivalry’ between the two Universities isn’t so much to do with an inherent hatred of the other. Rather, it is more to do with a dubious feeling as to how the students from each University should act around each other. There is, really, no reason why a person with a Mechanical Engineering MSc and person with a degree in Art Collecting can’t get along, but the stigma attached to both Universities by the other serves as deterrence enough.

At the end of the day, we’re all at University to gain something out of higher education. I suspect rivalry between two Universities in the same city isn’t so much to do with the status of the Universities, but more to do with the inevitable competition which emerges between two institutes full of young adults with such close proximity to each other.

I’ve come to the conclusion that Solent students are a bunch of uneducated scum bags. Nah, only joking. There’s no difference between us and them, really. Admittedly, the grades we need to get into University are higher than what they’re required to achieve, with Medicine and Engineering  not exactly top of the agenda when it comes to degree courses. However, this doesn’t justify the abuse both Universities hurl at the other; although on some levels it’s friendly banter, occasionally it can turn nasty. Ultimately – whether from Solent or Soton – we’re all looking to contribute to the economy and better the future of society: a feat impossible without a multitude of talent and skill. The phrase ‘it takes all sorts’ comes to mind.

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Discussion18 Comments

  1. avatar

    I fail to see where Yacht Production and Surveying degree is a vocational course. People following this course are doing a production based engineering degree just like people studying Ship Science at Southampton with management theme…

    Their Yacht and Powercraft Design course also has an excellent reputation, maybe less academical than Ship Science, but every year former Solent YPD students enter an MSc in Ship Science at Soton. I suppose it means their exit level is not that far from our entry requirements 🙂

    In the end, I’d rather have a degree from Solent with a very good reputation than one from Southampton with a very poor one.

    Writer
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    By vocational I mean more ‘hands on’ – I wasn’t debating the validity of the degree, and I was arguing throughout that their degrees are no less valuable than ours. 🙂

  2. avatar

    I’ve always said the ‘rivalry’ between Solent and Southampton is pointless, and I have a friend there whom I’ve known since we were young, and she got the same GCSE grades as me. We are all the same, just following different paths of education; I’m going to come out of Southampton with a low 2:2 in law, but I want to go into journalism – maybe going to Solent for such a degree and doing well would have been better for me, despite my high A-level grades allowing me to come here.

    Also, the rivalry isn’t usually that “nasty”; I’ve heard of very few incidents in which students from one camp properly abuse the other, and no incidents in which violence between the two is involved for the reason of being from the other uni. There is “nasty banter” between people of all walks of life, as well as within our uni, so that is something that just happens, in every group.

  3. avatar

    Bit of a copycat of my article for the tab several months ago dont you think? Shameless. Gold star to anyone who has the balls to publish this comment. We would.

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    Alice, if this is actually the author of the other article (lots of people use fake names) then I have to question your understanding of shameless. I’ve always been interested in the relationship between the two universities and found the rivalry a little sad. Having read your article a few weeks ago, the ‘copycat’ accusation fails to address the evident fact that Amy has written an eloquent, balanced insight into our attitudes towards one another and the origins of any conflict that may exist. Your piece was more what you’d expect if you a recorded a really dull drunk ranting in jesters and then just typed up the transcript. Amy’s article may explore the same subject matter, but labeling it as a copy is like condemning Harry Potter as a rip-off of the worst witch. Although the analogy doesn’t really hold because the worst witch was ok. Your style suggested that there wasn’t a single thought or opinion that you had that wasn’t worth documenting, that student journalism should include shout-outs – ‘my best friend from home is at Solent (LOVE YOU BBZ)’ and exploiting the platform for a private vendetta against ‘that guy in Sobar (BURN IF YOU ARE READING THIS NOW)’.

    All of this would have been fine if you’d have just written your terrible, terrible article and then just stopped, preferably forever. But to have the temerity to start insulting Amy for writing the piece that you couldn’t was just ridiculous. There are lots of bad pieces in the Wessex Scene and plenty of great articles in the tab but it would probably be best if you stayed away from both of them.

    LOVE YOU BBZ
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    Do you write for the Wessex Scene Alex? Just wondering because that was a pretty drawn out longg rant…
    Amy’s article is informative yeah, but I’ve heard it said alot that you don’t learn about life from textbooks.
    You have to get out there any experience it First had before you can Truly understand it (or at least try to).

    Alice’s article portrayed this brilliantly, it was a real life situation, with real life people and their opinions, not just some facts you can Google, Wikipedia or get from a text book.

    Mildred Hubble
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    Harry Potter ruined me, in future I would appreciate it if you did not refer to events in my life that were extremely challenging and emotional to illustrate your points.

    Finding a job when you are known as the ‘worst’ witch is hard enough.

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    Haha Alex you are a charmer :P! As a old man and a solent student I am impressed that you have been interested enough to troll the shit out of me. Get a fucking grip. You are right about one thing however, I was a little mean to poor Amy. So for that I am sorry Amy! (Hangovers make me grumpy and its not a bad article tbh). Anyhoo massive shout out to Alex for being my top trolling moron of the day, feel free to read the soton tab and comment whenever you like so you can continue to entertain me.

    Alex Whatley
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    Ah Alice I’m flattered to have brightened up your your evening. Was very big of you to apologise, kudos. I probably won’t be commenting on any soton tab articles, we old folk from solent try to keep away from all this techno-wizardry unless there’s some essential trolling to be done.

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    sorry if it seemed i was copying your article, Alice. I never read the Tab so was unaware such an article existed! But seeing as the Tab and the Scene are two entirely different publications, read by different people, I don’t think it matters too much anyway…maybe this calls for an article about the rivalry between the Tab and the Scene? hmmm…

    Rupert Pupkin
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    What’s the Tab?

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    Amy that would be a fantastic article! You should name and shame me for being so horrible…. I think you are right, two different publications and all that but if you did release an article it may just turn out to be a trollathon by both sides (which would proberbly be hilarious). Anyhoo hope to see you on a joint social next year 🙂

  8. avatar

    I feel sorry for those of you that read Soton tab. Amy, I think it’s a very well written article 😉

    I like to take myself too seriously, all the time!
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    Dude I feel sorry for those who don’t.

  9. avatar

    It doesn’t matter where you go as long as you enjoy the course and University. I think there is way too much emphasis placed on this stuff. It’s like elitism meets inverted-elitism.

    Besides, as far as I’m concerned.. There is Oxford and Cambridge. Then everything else. ;]

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