What factors to consider when choosing a university in the UK – Open Access Government

The months ahead will unite around 400,000 students from the 2023 cohort attending university ‘Open Days’ to select their top choices from thousands of full-time undergraduate degree courses offered at almost 300 UK institutions. Even when an applicant is confident about the subject they want to study, there are still plenty of other factors to consider when choosing a university, argues Fiona McKenzie, Head of Education at Carfax Education.
Other factors to consider include which university and course are best, and the type of university experience you want – all of which will significantly impact the direction in which life takes you. Many international students are open to exploring different paths, which throws even more options into the mix. UK universities were traditionally the top choice for students worldwide, but school leavers are now exploring options further afield across the US and Europe.
UK universities remain a popular choice offering a high-quality academic and vocational, undergraduate experience. This option offers a familiar path for students who have studied a UK curriculum yet also has a long history of welcoming international students with other qualifications. In addition, each university offers excellent support systems for welfare and practical support for students from abroad.
When it comes to choosing a university, there is no right or wrong choice
A key advantage of studying in the UK is the variety of subjects on offer and the subject-specific degrees. With a strong teaching history in traditional subjects, the UK also offers globally recognised courses for vocational subjects like medicine, veterinary science and engineering, as well as more niche courses such as Business Management, Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship at City University. Students can specialise from an early stage or combine subjects to form a joint degree.
Many students are still exploring their university options before making their applications via the UK University Central Admissions System, known as UCAS, ahead of the January 26th 2023 deadline. In addition, for those considering medicine, veterinary science and medicine, Oxford and Cambridge universities have already missed the application cycle for this year which closed on October 15th.
Although degrees in England and Wales are three years and four in Scotland, it’s worth considering a study abroad or a work placement as the opportunity to gain relevant professional qualifications and fast-track a career post-graduation. Meanwhile, in the US, degrees offer more academic flexibility and can last four years, and some even extend to six.
In my role as Head of Education at Carfax Education, I see the invisible forces that can influence pupils’ further education decision-making, including peer pressure, parental influence, teachers’ views, social attitudes, anxiety and beliefs, and the candid advice I always give is:
When it comes to choosing a university, there is no right or wrong choice. It all depends on the student’s subject interests, career aspirations and the experience they’re looking for. University is a formative time for many students, so it’s critical that they explore their options with a focus on the learning experience and the social life that they want to experience.


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