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.
  • 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 or gained its Royal Charter
  • 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.
  • The average size of a UK University is around 15-18,000 students

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.

Look at the top universities for student satisfaction.

University profiles include a brief history of each institution and give an indication of student numbers.