University Tips Blog
Image of students in a new area
A headshot image of the author, Ruth Boyce

by Ruth Boyce

Schools and Colleges Senior Development Officer at the University of Winchester

posted on 29 Nov '21

Tips when supporting students who are thinking about moving to a new area for university

Trying out a new place can be a fantastic experience for young people, whether that be from a rural to urban location or experiencing a new town with differing local culture and atmosphere. However, students often rely on what they know, secondary aged students (11-16 years old) travel an average of 3.4 miles to get to school (1) and although often travel further for their post-16 education, it is perhaps not a surprise that they rely on places they recognise to guide their decision making.

Below are some ideas to encourage students to think far and wide when considering where to study.

Where is? Quiz

This is fun to do with those starting their research, focusing on places in the UK (not even thinking global!). It is interesting to see where the gaps are, parts of the country they may not have been exposed to or places they haven’t heard of.

Destination maps showing where previous students are studying can be a great reinforcement of scale and maps in shared spaces can provide easy look up opportunities.

All in a name

We know not all universities are named after their location; but many discount a university because they’ve not heard of the place before. Additionally, search result lists in online platforms tends to be alphabetical. Think about the shortlisting platforms you are promoting and whether students have the skills to critically use the search filters. Reordering lists can throw up previously unconsidered options.

Image of a student moving in to new university accommodation

How far

In the UCAS course search students can choose how far from home they might study. They may need support to identify how far a distance is in journey time though. Depending on where in the country they are starting from, 100 miles is around a 2 – 2 1/2 hour drive. This might help students visualise where they are willing to travel and put into perspective scale from map to journey time.

Local or living away

Students may live at home to save on spending, but often overlook the cost of commuting and their reduced maintenance loan. As they shortlist, urge them to consider how often they plan to travel home. In addition, questioning whether being 1 or 7 hours away is going to have an impact on how connected they feel to those at home, how would they connect over the distance?

From starting at a point of researching far and wide, they might find a course that is perfect for them either by exploring a university that is new or a few miles outside their search zone. It is worth reflecting on how you support students (and their supporter at home) with their geographical thinking.

(1) Taken from the National Travel Survey 2019

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