How to Choose a University (UK)

When it comes to choosing which six universities to apply to, there are so many options too choose from? How can we possibly choose? Here's some helpful advice.


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    Make sure that you start early enough. Ideally you should start looking for a university about 18 months before commencement of the course and start applying about a year before commencement. British universities operate on first come, first served basis (more or less) and you do not want to be left out of your favourite course because you did not start looking early enough.
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    Decide if you want to do a distance learning course (such as Open University). These are becoming increasingly popular as they require much less commitment.
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    Location, location, location. Would you prefer to live in a busy city neighbourhood or in a quiet town in the countryside? Apart from its impact on your lifestyle, location will have a huge impact on your cost of living. Cities are generally more expensive than towns, even when you live in university accommodation. London and the southeast are the most expensive. On the other hand, if you would like to have a part-time job while you study, a city will give you more work opportunities.
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    Decide if you would prefer to stay close to home, or to look further afield. Do you prefer to live close to your family and friends or are you the adventurous type?
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    Decide if you would like to be full-time or part-time. Working part-time while you study will help your finances, but it means that you will have less time for socialising or even studying.
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    Narrow down your search by finding which universities offer your course. Use Search Engines in education-related websites to find which universities offer your preferred course.
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    If you want to do a specific career, check that the course is accredited by the relevant organisation (for example the British Psychological Society) - their website should have a list of courses they accredit. This can be very important when you are looking for a job after your graduation.
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    Check that the grades required match with your ability level. If you have no qualifications, you can also research educational institutions that accept people with few or no qualifications (e.g. Ruskin College in Oxford, England).
    • Do you want a Russell Group University? (Oxford, Cambridge, Warwick, Liverpool, Nottingham, Imperial, Edinburgh etc.)
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    Visit the university websites and read about your courses, the city/town and the social life.
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    Go to an Open Day at the universities you are interested in. This is the only real way to make your mind up about a place. Remember that this is somewhere where you will spend 3 or 4 years of your life.
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    If you are not able to attend Open Days (for example, if you are an international student), contact course coordinators and lecturers by phone or e-mail. Ask about assessments, modules, research interests and university life.
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    Choose a university with good research and teaching reputation. Find relevant rankings about the University as well as the department you are interested in.
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    Speak to students who already study there or read an alternative guide


  • Remember that you have 5 or 6 choices, so if you cannot decide how far away from home you would to be, or in what size of a place, vary your options and choose a mixture.
  • It is a really important decision, so take your time. Ask people for advice.


  • Don't panic; enjoy it!

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Categories: Applying for Tertiary Education