Written by Nadia - 01/08/2023
"How do I choose the best UK university for my degree?" Choosing a university to study at is a daunting task. It’s where you’ll be living and learning for the next 3-4 years. So, first and foremost, you want to make sure it’s somewhere you like! This task becomes even more difficult when you’re studying abroad. Most students don’t get to actually see the university they’ve chosen until they arrive to study. While your comfort at university is important, you also want to go somewhere where you can get the best education for your chosen major! Below I’ve put together some tips for finding the best university for your degree
We try not to rely on rankings too much. They don’t always tell the full story of the student experience at a university. However, they’re useful for determining top ranking subjects at different universities! We prefer to use The Complete University Guide, as they have a nice breakdown of universities by subject ranking. For example, you’ll see on their charts that one university is rated Number 1 in the UK for a specific subject such as Forestry and Agriculture, but 34th overall in the UK. This is a great overall ranking, but it is the subject ranking you want to pay close attention to. You’ll get the best education and opportunities for your major in Forestry and Agriculture there.
Image: View from a classroom at Edinburgh Napier, top ranked for Events and Tourism, and Publishing and Media
Definitely check out the faculty for your program to see if the uni is the best UK university for your degree! See what the professors and staff studied, what they research, and what they teach. If you’re studying a broader subject like History, but have a specific interest in something like the History of Women Writers in the 19th Century, it’s great to have a professor on staff to go to, to further your interest in the subject! Being taught by faculty at the height of your field is great for your education and for future reference letters!
Image: Academic staff are experts in their field and many are still actively working in their field in addition to teaching
See what kind of research the university is doing that you could be a part of! Research specializations that align with your subject interest are a great opportunity to get involved and gain additional research experience experience before graduation. Browse university websites or their webpages here to get an idea of their different research focuses
Image: Archaeological research at the University of Leicester
Also look at what the university has in terms of facilities for your degree, especially if you’re studying something practice based. If you’re interested in Fine Art for example, find out if the university you’ve chosen has a set up for your chosen medium and access to the materials and tools you need to succeed. For this, an arts based school would be a great choice! They have campus buildings dedicated to every major they have, with top of the line equipment to help you succeed
Image: Printing presses at Falmouth University
You won't spend all of your time in the classroom! It’s important to see what opportunities outside of lectures the university presents to help you succeed after your studies. For example: if you’re studying Law, look for a university that has a Law Society or Mock Trial team, so you can get involved in things you’re already passionate about. Your program may offer opportunities within the structure of the course as well. If you’re studying International Relations, studying abroad could be a great idea! My degree took us on tons of relevant field trips; I studied Publishing and we visited a printer, and went to London Book Fair to learn more about all aspects of the industry we were hoping to join.
Image: Seminar at London Book Fair
Finally, don’t forget to read testimony from students who have studied the course, or are currently on the course! The universities usually make these available on their websites, and tons of UK unis also have Unibuddy, which allows you to chat with current university students, sorted by degree. Ask them their honest opinion, what things they considered when choosing the school, and what they learn about! They’re a great resource for learning about the student experience as a whole, and for your specific subject.
Choosing a degree can be difficult, and choosing a university to study at can be even more difficult! These are just some of the things to consider to help you pick the right UK university to study at. If all else fails, ask your advisor for their opinion on the best schools for your degree. Ultimately, the choice is yours, but we’re here to help!
We are here to help! If you’re not sure where to start your research, ask your Across the Pond advisor!
If you are new to Across the Pond and don’t have an advisor yet, you can enquire here.