Credit: The Brig Newspaper

A freshers’ guide to Stirling

By Kimberley Mannion

The Glasgow Guardian’s guide to making the most of first year while living a 45 minute drive along the M80.

Selecting the University of Glasgow as your firm choice on UCAS, you probably thought you were heading off for a new start in Scotland’s most populated and most ethnically diverse city. Glasgow is also known for its world beating friendliness and thriving music scene, where bands like Oasis could make a name for themselves, while much of the city’s architecture is that of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, arguably Scotland’s best architect. But most readers of this newspaper will know Glasgow well. Stirling, a small city some 26 miles along the road, perhaps not so.

As The Glasgow Guardian exclusively revealed, some of this year’s freshers could be making it their business to get to know Stirling rather than Glasgow as their new home. UofG is in discussion with the University of Stirling over the possibility of housing homeless first years in their student halls, as the accommodation crisis here in Glasgow continues.

Stirling is a beautiful and picturesque city. The University’s campus is situated around rolling green hills looking onto Airthrey Loch, while the institution is well-known for its fantastic sports facilities. However, if these were qualities these freshers were looking for in their university, they probably would have chosen it over Glasgow. They wanted the bustle and character of the Big Smoke, not the breath of fresh air that is Stirling.

If some freshers are going to have to live in Stirling, they may as well try to make the most of it. Although our distribution may not stretch as far outside our city as that, The Glasgow Guardian has prepared a freshers guide to Stirling – not an article we thought would ever be included in this university’s newspaper. If UofG continues to accept more and more students without addressing the serious accommodation shortage in the city, maybe next year’s editor will be writing a freshers’ guide to Inverness.

Living in a different city to the university you signed up for is certainly a unique character- building experience. There won’t be an abundance of people who can say they lived in two cities during their degree without changing universities, but these freshers are very much the exception (provided they make it onto the competitive private rental market ladder for a second year flat). Stirling is also equidistant to Glasgow and Edinburgh, meaning the capital could be an option to explore more so than if you were based in Glasgow. These perks – if you dare call them that – do not take away from the failure of the University to look after these young people. Moving away from home and starting university is an already scary transition period – this bombshell being dropped upon them at the last minute will only further their anxieties.

All that being said, Stirling is a historic city with lots to offer. Yes, it is considerably smaller than Glasgow, with a population of around 37,000 compared to roughly 635,600. But it’s not completely out in the sticks – with a good university it’s still a student town.

So as a student town, there are student club nights like anywhere else. While Stirling does not have the range of nightlife Glasgow does, from Cathouse to the ever so spicy Manuka to Garage falling somewhere in the middle, it does have a nightclub. Fubar is Stirling’s stand alone nightclub since rival spot Dusk failed to survive the impact of the pandemic on night venues. My opinion of it is tainted by the fact that I come from a village close by to Stirling, so I associate Fubar as being the small town club I went to underage. But it is a classic student club with midweek nights and drinks promotions catering to those coming from the Uni.

Freshers can also get the social experience they might have enjoyed during a first year in Glasgow at The Kilted Kangaroo pub, which does quiz and open mic nights, The Crossed Peels (Stirling’s very own JD Wetherspoons), a BrewDog, and its answer to Kitty O’Sheas – Molly Malones – which of course can’t compare, but you still need a decent Irish pub.

Much like other towns across the UK, Stirling’s town centre has been in rapid decline in recent years. The Thistles Shopping Centre is now a rather depressing place dotted with empty units, with Zara and H&M the latest big dogs to shut up shop. You can also go bowling, go to the cinema or visit Nandos in the city centre, which is a ten minute shuttle bus service from the UoS campus in the village of Bridge of Allan. You’ll also have to take this bus to get to the train station and begin your journey to Glasgow – where the university you chose to spend the next four years of your life is actually located – from where you will take a 34 minute train to Glasgow Queen Street station at a cost of £9.10 for a single, and then an eight minute subway to Hillhead. The journey is far from ideal, and freshers didn’t sign up to be commuter students. But if anyone is housed in Stirling, and a copy of The Glasgow Guardian somehow manages to fall into their hands, hopefully this can be of some use to get their year off to a bit of a better start, or at least look forward to eventually getting through to join us in Glasgow.


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a lot of people don’t live in the city they go to uni in… it’s called commuting. shoulda got a commuter student who can empathise to write this one