How can schools and colleges support students when making their university choices?
With only five options on UCAS for most programmes and with over 140 UK based Higher Education institutions to choose from - researching into what is on offer is key. Below I outline how you can support your students when it comes to choosing the perfect university for them.
1 - Campus university or a city?
Universities usually fall within two brackets. Some universities are campus based which means academic, accommodation and leisure facilities are in one place as opposed to city based where university buildings are dotted around a major city, such as London or Manchester. Each arrangement has advantages and disadvantages. You need to encourage your students to question what appeals to them. Is the idea they could wake up at 8:50 and be in their lecture at 9:00 tempting (campus based) or do they like the idea of their university building being within the hussle and bussle of a city?
2 - What accommodation is offered?
Accommodation, for most students, is a key factor when it comes to choosing universities. Not all universities can guarantee accommodation for all their first years which may put students off applying. There is also an abundance of option available. Ask your students to question whether they really need an en-suite bathroom or if catered accommodation is the right option. Accommodation also comes at a cost - so ensure your students have researched the prices and have thought about their budget.
3 - What is available outside of the course?
There is always lots of emphasis on course content and the academic support at universities - but students must also be encouraged to consider the extra activities on offer for students as well. For example, many universities offer the opportunity to study a language for free. Obviously the languages on offer will differ across institutions, so students will need to do their research. Students can also get involved in an abundance of different clubs and societies. If one of your students has a particular interest in curling, then advise them to see if any of their university options run a curling society!
4 - What is in the course?
This might sound like an obvious point to make, but students sometimes need to be reminded to research the module content of their course options. For example, students must not make the assumption that Shakespeare would be a topic on every English Literature degree. Students need to be sure of what topics and modules they want to study and ensure that the courses they are applying to actually offers it!
And 5 - a final thought..
The perfect way to find answers to the above questions is for your students to attend open days armed with a list of questions about the course, accommodation and the extra circular activities available. University is a big step and a little bit of energy into questioning their options will really pay off.
Becci Denmark is the UK/EU Student Recruitment Manager at the University of Surrey. Becci joined the team in March after spending 2 and a half years at the University for the Creative Arts in an Outreach role. As well as managing schools liaison, Becci is also responsible for the Surrey Student Ambassador Scheme and Surrey UCAS.