What Sort of University Do You Want To Go To?
As you might expect universities are not all the same.
- At one extreme is an ancient collegiate university, a world leader in research and offering traditional academic courses, with most students achieving AAA or better at A level, large numbers of postgraduates and many overseas students.
- At the other extreme is a very locally-orientated university which does little research and offers more vocational courses to a higher percentage of students from the local area, many of whom are mature (over 21 years) and do not have A levels.
Both universities may be very good at what they do.
- Each university-type will offer a different student experience.
- What is important is to think about what is right for you.
Old or new university.Generally, older universities will do more research, recruit a higher proportion of school leavers and offer more traditional academic courses. Newer universities will be more locally and vocationally-orientated and recruit more mature and part-time students.
- If you are intersted in what is an old university and a new one, find out when the institution became a university.
- New univerities gained university status (changing from polytechnics) in 1992.
- Institutions who gained university status before 1992 are classed as old universities – they were founded between 1200 and the late 1960s.
- Don't always assume that having a crest or old style logo means old university and vice versa.
- Old universities sometimes have modern outlooks and fresh logos to reflect this, while some new universities want to create a sense of history.
The right course for you is a greater priority than the age of the establishment.
Large or small university
Universities also vary greatly in size, from fewer than 2,000 students to over 30,000.
- A small university might be perceived to be more personal and cosier with more facilities to go around; it may have slightly fewer facilities and non-academic activities.
- A big university will be busier and may feel more impersonal (lectures can be delivered to hundreds of students at a time).
- There may be a lot more activities taking place.
Student numbers are only a guide to where a university sits on this spectrum.
- Some large universities are divided into colleges, creating a small university feel within a big university context;
- others are located on several relatively small sites in city locations therefore possessing all the advantages of a big university.
University profiles include a brief history of each institution and give an indication of student numbers.
Next page: Quality and Reputation