Choosing a university

Choosing a university isn’t easy. There are over 150 institutions to pick from and all of them offer different experiences, different subjects and different courses. Picking between them, with only a vague idea as to what it might be like, is a real challenge.


Get your priorities straight

  • A top ranked course – let’s say something at Oxford or Cambridge – might be well regarded, but it might not be as flexible as a degree elsewhere. You might not have the chance to take modules outside of your particular subject area. Do you want prestige or flexibility?
  • What about work placements? Some courses offer students a full year in an industry of their choice, the sort of thing that kick-starts a career. Others might give you the chance to study abroad. It's worth thinking about the kind of degree you want and the opportunities you want to get from it. 
  • Or optional modules? Some courses will let you take modules from other subjects. A degree in English, for example, might let you branch out into other areas of the humanities with modules in HistoryPhilosophy or Creative Writing. Others might not. 

It’s all about making sure you know what you want from your course, about deciding what's right for you. 

There’ll be other factors that influence your decision, though. If you want to study something unique, let’s say Veterinary Science, your options are limited. There are only a handful of places you can go in the country. Study something more fundamental like Maths or Chemistry, and you’ll have more freedom when choosing a university.

Whatever happens, it’s important to get this right. Course choice is one of the main reasons why students drop out. Changing courses or university is a difficult, lengthy and often a costly process.

93% of students see their degree through to the end. To make sure you're one of them, there are a few things you can do:

  • Make sure you know what you’re looking for; what kind of university you want to go to and what you want your course to offer.
  • Thoroughly research your course; will it cover topics that interest you? Have you enjoyed studying it in the past? Will it lead to the kind of career you want?
  • What do you want from your university? The aplomb of a prestigious degree? Academic rigor? Flexibility? Or practical links and industry contacts?

Commit yourself to this kind of research, it will make you more confident in your choice of degree. It will also set you up with a useable methodology for all of those big decisions that define adulthood.