The students are here: thousands head to Northampton Market Square as enrolment begins at £350m new campus

From Doctor Who clubs to singing societies and sports teams, Market Square was a hive of activity as thousands of students took to the town centre for Union Day.

Monday, 24th September 2018, 4:10 pm
Updated Tuesday, 25th September 2018, 2:52 am
Jessica Burnside, Alex Lopez and Ryan Bradshaw of the University of Northampton's students' union.

The event, held for the first time in Northampton town centre, coincided with enrollment day at the £350 million Waterside campus, which officially opened last week.

Thousands of students poured into Market Square with the aim of joining up to one of a broad range of clubs and societies before the start of the new term next week.

Students’ union vice president Ryan Bradshaw, said: “The reason we held it here today is, with the move to move to Waterside, we want to show that we are part of the community here.

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The university's hockey team signs up new members.

“We felt we wanted to change that perception that exists between student and the general public.

“It is a statement to say we are here now.”

Members of the public rubbed shoulders with university freshers and both groups were browsing some of the 200 societies available to to sign up to at the University of Northampton.

Part of the reason for holding the event in Market Square this year was to highlight how not all of the clubs are just for students.

The dance society strikes a pose.

Sports officer for the students’ union Alex Lopez, said many of the teams allow those outside the university to take part in the training sessions, even if they cannot take part in the matches.

The new students’ union venue in George Row, the Platform, is available for public hire, while the daytime cafe there is accessible to all.

“This is our opportunity for the general public to see what the university does,” said Jessica Burnside, the societies officer.

But she added that the event also allowed Northampton’s new 3,000-strong cohort of freshers to get a glimpse of the town centre, many of whom were there for the first time.

Guy MacDougall-Mitchell, left, was hoping to attract new members to the rounders society today.

“When we were at the Park campus you might only use the university’s shops and bars there,” she added.

“By being in the market today, the new students can come and see all the local businesses and local products available.”

Hoping to sign newcomers up to the university’s rounders society today was third year politics and past relations student Guy MacDougall-Mitchell, 20.

“We were quite outside the town before - it could isolate you if you were living in halls,” he said.

“But being nearer the town is better.”

Sam Dorywala, studying a masters in education, was also hoping to expand her weekly Doctor Who society, where members watch the hit TV show, play games themed around the series and enjoy an occasional buffet.

She was excited about the prospect of starting a new term based at a single campus close to the town centre.

“I love it, it feels like a fresh start for everyone,” she said.

“It looks so much better, though I enjoyed the old buildings.

“But they could be isolating at times - when you had something going on you couldn’t always get between the two campuses [Park and Avenue].

“This just feels a lot more integrated.”

But town leaders will be hoping the effect of some 15,000 students relocating to a campus only a short walk from the town centre will provide a huge economic boost to local businesses.

“The trick will be to make sure all the freshers are aware of exactly what is in and around Northampton,” added Sam, who has lived in the town for 18 years.

“The university has been doing that.

“There is a whole section on the website telling us what’s available.”