The University Of Love

With everyone across the globe celebrating the wedding of two ex-St Andrews undergraduates, one has to wonder what the chances of York students marrying one another are, once we’re out in the big wide world, running businesses, banks… or empires.

Will and Kate are exceptional. She has all the physical traits of Rower Barbie: beautiful skin, tiny waist and thick shiny hair. He’s our future King who spends his non-royal time rescuing stranded people in icy waters. They both studied History of Art, (yeah, that’s right Lemon Press, we’ve found a future profession for Art Historians after all: Queen), have a painful American film about their blooming love story, as well as an estimated two billion people watching them get hitched. Not everyone can be Will and Kate. However, Wedding Fever has left many of us wondering about our own Prince and Princess, and where to find them. How many of our university boyfriends will end up being That Man?

The writer Amy Jenkins, who wrote This Life (a characterisation of post university life, in the ‘real world’) believes that student romances can’t survive outside the safe walls of a university campus. She says that, “You’re probably too young to settle if you met at university.” She believes that “university is your last chance to grow up and find yourself, which you don’t want to be doing with someone in tow,” and if you do, the relationship won’t last on the rocky life of mortgages and careers. Jenkins says that “in most cases it’s much too soon.” She, like the psychologist Glenn Wilson from King’s College London, both incorrectly predicted the demise of Will and Kate’s relationship, however. Whilst agreeing that relationships built on “common ground, including intellectual similarities, have a better chance of lasting than those that cross all kinds of divides,” Wilson went on to say that the “world changes” once you leave university. This would, therefore, foretell the end of Kate and William’s relationship. Although these conclusions were evidently drawn during Kate and William’s minor tiff a few years previously, when the world thought that their relationship was finished, Jenkins and Wilson were both wrong. Love can survive outside university, even if your Granny isn’t on stamps, your sister doesn’t have an internationally famous bottom, and if your face isn’t on a mug.

Sadly, although our British universities are in close competition for student satisfaction, contact hours, and student academic success rates, The Times is yet to publish an annual ‘Relationship Potential’ league table. The winner, if there was such a thing, would probably be Durham University, which is rumoured to have the largest number of inter-student marriages in Britain. Durham boasts around 10,000 married alumni. It published in one of its magazines, Durham First, the stories and romantic encounters of some lucky Durham students who ended up wed to That Drunk Fresher. Apparently, one alumnus says that Durham is so romantic two of her married friends met before they even got into the university, queuing to register on their first day. Indeed, one happy couple (Michael and Teresa) encouraged their own son to go to Durham, as they did, to find a wife. And he did, on both accounts.

Finding one’s spouse in Durham “even runs in families.” Whilst many universities (such as Oxford) make a point of not recording the number of students who marry one another, and others (St Andrews and Cambridge included) apparently have no idea, it would appear that across the U.K thousands of students are finding their Prince William/ Catherine Middleton at University.

Manchester also seems to be following a trend of universities publishing their own love stories. Manchester University is publishing in its own magazine, Your Manchester, a selection of its favourite Manchester hook-ups. Although Manchester may pale when compared to Durham, (or York) in terms of the numbers of people who found lasting love at their university (an approximated 2,000 according to their records, out of a large alumni base), of those that did, they clearly had romantic starts. Almost half the people to marry from Manchester rushed to publish their own ‘Love Stories’. The alumni office had around 1,000 applicant stories.
So, what about York? Well, from 70,000 alumni, a total of 4,300 are registered as married to another. It might not be as impressive as Durham, but that’s 2,150 couples, and (as with all the universities listed) this is only of those who are registered by the respective institution. We can therefore assume that the number for all of our universities is higher than the estimates. With only 50,000 students remaining in contact with York University, the percentage of those students who found one another is around 8.6 per cent. That’s a pretty high number of students who found their one true loves, just like William and Kate, in a lecture theatre or in halls, or perhaps playing ‘ring of fire’.

Importantly, York outranks our most local rival (other than York St John’s, who aren’t sure of their numbers either); Leeds. Leeds, which out of a potential 170,000 alumni, only has 2,206 recorded marriages. This is a pretty average 2.6% success rate for Leeds, pushing it towards the bottom end of the Love League. Another university famous for the number of inter-student marriages is Warwick, where 10% of all its students have ended up married to one another. Staggeringly, although universities across Britain may have different successful marriage rates and alumni records, there seem to be an awfully large number of marriages across them all. Marriages, based on those people that we meet right here, right now, at university, just like our future monarchs.

Evidently York hangs somewhere in the top end of the British Universities ‘Relationship Potential’ league. Will and Kate may be exceptional in many ways, but one way in which they are not, is that they found one another at university. Maybe you too will end up like Kate and William. Maybe the University of York is the place where you will find more than just yourself…

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