‘It’s the best school I’ve ever seen.’ Northeastern’s London campus welcomes 1,050 new undergraduate students

A student hugs their parents goodbye.
Photo by Carmen Valino for Northeastern University

LONDON — A string of oversized gold balloons spelling “Welcome” greeted new students at Northeastern University’s London campus.

Of the 1,050 new arrivals, around 700 moved into student housing at iQ Aldgate, with the remainder finding their homes in Chapter Spitalfields.

All of the new Northeastern London students walked past those gilded welcome balloons to enroll at Devon House. The 38,000-square-foot campus building is packed with classrooms, cafes, study cubicles, conference rooms and faculty offices. 

Opened in 2021, it’s located in St. Katharine Docks in the heart of central London, just minutes from the Tower of London. With a colorful interior design and impressive views over the River Thames, Devon House appears as shiny and new as the students taking their place inside it. 

“I’m super impressed with the architecture and the interior design,” said Andy Hioe, a resident of Los Angeles, who was helping his son, Brendan, move onto Northeastern’s London campus. “When I see the attention to detail, I’m super impressed. I’m happy my son will be able to enjoy it.”

Volunteers wearing red shirts with lanyards took students on tours of the campus, while students were offered snacks, drinks and gift bags to make them feel at home. They included water bottles, laundry bags and those British essentials — tea and biscuits.

Of the 1,050 students who arrived on Northeastern’s London campus, 624 are part of the university’s Global Scholars program. They will stay in London for a semester or a year before transitioning to Northeastern’s campuses in Boston or Oakland, California.

“When Brendan was accepted into Northeastern, they asked if he’d be interested in the Global Scholars program,” Andy Hioe said. “Moving from LA to Boston felt far enough away, but coming here is a great opportunity for him to be independent.”

New student Zoya Islam is originally from Boston, so she knows Northeastern well. 

“My dad went to Northeastern in Boston. I’ve toured the Boston campus a few times because we live close by. I like the school a lot,” she said.

Islam, who will study business at Northeastern London, is already finding her feet  — with lots of help.

“It was hard to pack everything for this semester into two suitcases,” she said. “There were a lot of volunteers helping us into the building.”

Islam’s mother and father came to London to help her move in. Both were impressed with the campus, faculty and staff.

“My dad loves it here,” Islam said. “We were here for a week before enrolling, so I acclimated to London. London feels kind of similar to Boston, but the campus is very different. Devon House is so welcoming. The study areas make me want to do my homework.”

Dana Elprince, a student from Egypt, is studying architecture. 

“I’m really enjoying it,” she said. “I’m adjusting to the new environment. I moved into iQ Aldgate. My mom is here for the week helping me to move in. I really love that London is a walkable city, and the shopping options.”

For Parker Thiede, a student from Minneapolis, it was her first time in London. She moved into iQ Aldgate.

“London is a lot different than Minneapolis,” Thiede said. “The thing I really like about London is how every neighborhood is different. You walk a block and it’s a completely different vibe. There’s more mixed housing, which makes it more of an interesting place.”

Suzi Broadaway, head of student life at Northeastern London, said the new cohort of students seems “particularly engaged.”

“They’re signing up for welcome week events and seem to want to get the most out of London,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity for them, but I think they’re coming out of COVID wanting to explore and get the most out of life.”

Rebecca Morrison, associate vice president of academic services and student engagement at Northeastern London, helped the incoming students acclimate by conducting virtual orientation sessions. Thiede said they were a big help.

“We had lots of group chats and connected on social media before we got here,” she said. “So it’s interesting to finally see those people in the flesh.”

Jack Ma, a student from China, raved about iQ Aldgate, which is where he’ll be living.

“It’s a great room. It’s private and has a lot of facilities,” he said. “I’m adjusting to the weather. It’s been sunny today, which is nice.”

Maggie Ma will study on the London campus for a semester as part of the Global Scholars program. 

“The accommodation at iQ Spitalfields is very good,” she said. “The site is just gorgeous.”

Brendan Liu, a student from Shenzhen, China, also had high praise for Devon House.

“The campus is excellent,” he said. “It’s the best school I’ve ever seen. Everything is new.”

James Heard, president of the Student Union at Northeastern London, has seen the campus change dramatically since he arrived three years ago. 

“When I started, my cohort was around 90 students,” he said. “Obviously, growing numbers of students allows the Student Union to put on events we wouldn’t previously have had the numbers to fill. This week’s welcoming event sold out in five hours, which is absolutely crazy.”