Type of university
The UK has many types of university. They vary in age, size and reputation amongst other things. You will have a preference for the characteristics you want your university to have.
To establish what your preferences are, ask the following questions and see which universities still on your shortlist meet your criteria:
Is the age of the university you go to important?
Universities in the UK vary in age from ancient institutions such as University of Oxford, University of Cambridge and University of Edinburgh to 20th and 21st century ones like Loughborough University, University of York and University of Suffolk.
The age of the university may seem superficial, but it is often an indicator of the types of subjects taught and teaching style.
Older universities usually have a more ‘traditional’ academic focus, with subjects like Mathematics, History, and English taking precedence. They also have a strong emphasis on research.
Newer universities are often more vocational and give greater attention to teaching over research.
What size university do you want to go to?
Universities in the UK vary massively in size, from large universities of over 30,000 students offering courses in a broad range of subjects, to small specialist institutions of a few hundred people and everything in between.
A smaller university will likely provide you with a stronger sense of community but will not be able to match large universities for the provision of clubs and societies.
Do you want to go to a so-called ‘prestigious’ university, or does reputation not bother you?
There still exists a hierarchy of UK universities with Oxbridge at the very top, followed by Russell Group and Red Brick universities along with strong performers in the league table.
Remember that prestige isn’t everything. Newer universities who haven’t had the time to build up a reputation can excel in areas where more highly regarded institutions fall short.
Do you want to go to a campus or city university?
A campus university is one in which accommodation, teaching spaces, research facilities and other amenities such as shops, restaurants and laundrettes are all on one site, often just outside a large city or town.
A city university is, one in which the facilities are in a number of different locations within the same city.
Campus universities are certainly more convenient, safer and have a stronger sense of community. However, city universities allow you to become more immersed what's going on around you.
Going to open days is the ideal way to get a sense of the character and ethos of a university. It gives you an opportunity to go around the campus but also ask staff and students questions about the university. Check out our list of possible questions to ask during your visit.
Next page: University Facilities