Choosing a university to go to is potentially one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make in your life – and it certainly isn’t a quick or simple one.
That’s why Career Camel is here to help! Nine of our experienced blog writers tell you about their own universities to give you the inside information, and help make that decision process just a tiny bit easier…
Exeter University – Fran Lowe
About three years ago now I visited the University of Exeter open day, and completely fell in love with the place. It’s been a romantic story ever since. Firstly, and probably most importantly, it’s a really good university. We are well up there in the top ten universities in the country, and we seem to just keep getting better. This year the National Student Survey saw us the top university in the Russell Group for student satisfaction; put simply, our students are clever and happy. We also have a super nice campus. Lots of campus universities are miles away from the town, but Exeter is right there, meaning you get the best of both worlds: a gorgeous campus (with the highest ratio of trees to students in the UK), so you feel you have a devoted space, as well as instant access to the amazing cultural city of Exeter, a real shopping hub of the South West. Did I mention the South West? It’s great. It only takes just over two hours from London to get here, but you couldn’t be more far removed from the scariness and rush of somewhere like that. The people here are friendly, and you can actually talk to someone at the bus stop without them thinking you’re a nutcase.
I couldn’t write this without mentioning Exeter’s inherent sense of humour. Freshers tend to pick this up within a few weeks, and it is a thread that seems to run through all 16,000 of us. It means that on a night out in Exeter, you can actually enjoy yourself, without having to worry about what everyone else is thinking. We’re also great at sport. The gym on main campus has recently been refurbished and is really snazzy, and whatever sport you do, or want to try, you will almost certainly ﬁnd someone like-minded. Not into rugby or netball? Try ultimate frisbee.
I hope I’ve convinced you to check Exeter out. I graduate this year, and I’m really going to miss that place. We’re all really proud to be Exonian, and if you ask me, it’s the best university in the world.
Leeds University – Edyta Wanic
Are you an extrovert who enjoys when lots is going on? The University of Leeds is a perfect place for you! Leeds is one of the largest British universities with an award-winning Students’ Union and excellent sports facilities. Its compact campus is located only a mile away from the city centre that offers superb shopping and entertainment facilities. Leeds is also a short drive away from picturesque countryside if you want a break from the bustling city.
The University puts huge emphasis on students’ employability skills and work experience. The dedicated career advisors will help you improve your CV, and you will have a chance to chat with employers during career fairs and meetings. Leeds also operates a career service which provides students with part-time opportunities within the University. The city is a great place for arts and entertainment lovers, and is home to the Royal Armoires and the world-recognised Henry Moore sculpture institute. It also offers a wide variety of bars and clubs which will suit different tastes. And if you are after something more cultural, you can enjoy a play at the Grand Theatre or West Yorkshire Playhouse.
A degree from Leeds will not only give you quality education and job prospects; it will also provide you with social experiences and friendships which you will remember for many years.
Liverpool University – Lucinda Giles
Surrounded by historic red-bricked buildings, as well the newly-built laboratories, lecture buildings and accommodation, the central campus at Liverpool University is the ideal location for students who want to study at a Russell Group university and experience a city renowned for its student life. Not only does the home of The Beatles have a lot to offer in the way of nights out and culture, it is also known as the second most cost-effective student city in the UK, allowing students to enjoy a more affordable high quality university experience. The direct fast train link also connects the city to London in a matter of hours, allowing for straight-forward journeys home in the holidays.
The University itself has enjoyed a ten-year campus investment with some of the developments including the new Veterinary Science building, the recently completed Crown Place accommodation, and improvements in laboratory and sports facilities. With a wide variety of courses available, Liverpool is also rated in the top one percent of the world’s research universities and has links with universities across the world through the Erasmus programme, allowing students to study modules of their course abroad.
Overall, studying at Liverpool can allow students to experience a great social scene, as well as receiving high quality tuition without the high prices of studying at a London university.
Nottingham University – Ibtisam Ahmed
The University of Nottingham (or Notts, as it is known) provides that rare balance of academic excellence and interesting location that make an educational experience worthwhile. The faculty is top notch, with most departments not only having the best academic minds but individuals who have helped shape their field of study. Alongside boasting two Nobel laureates in their ranks, Notts is also an excellent place for niche research within subjects, such as utopianism (Politics) or cultural representation (History).
Considered the greenest university in the country, it is arguably the most beautiful campus-based institution I have seen. Lakes and vast swathes of greenery provide scenic routes between buildings – and also excellent spots to study outdoors, weather permitting. My biggest problem was having to traverse such spaces when I was running late! The range of campus-based facilities and student services ensure that everyone is well provided for, while the Students’ Union allows for a vast number of societies and extra-curricular opportunities like student radio, newspapers and links for volunteering.
The city itself has a rich, if quiet, history that is exciting to explore and the very friendly locals can make the rest of the UK seem inhospitable. My tips: either show up for Night Light, when the whole city gets turned into an open-air art installation, or explore Wollaton Hall, aka Wayne Manor from The Dark Knight Rises. Not to mention that the multiple theatres, cinemas and shopping areas usually provide decent student discounts. Living off-campus – the city centre being a 20-minute bus ride from campus – is a popular option amongst students, although the 15+ catered halls across the campuses means you can quite comfortably choose to stay on-campus too.
I could keep going on about why I love Notts so much – just ask me about some of the societies if you want several hours of gushing – but I’ll just leave it for now. Wouldn’t want you to not experience it yourself now, would I?
Sheffield University – Nadene Chandler
The University of Sheffield is a redbrick university in south Yorkshire. The University is one of the elite 24 institutions within the Russell Group. Known for having excellent teaching and research, Sheffield is also home to one of the best Unions in the UK, excellent accommodation and earlier this year, was known as being the best university for student satisfaction.
People always criticise the city of Sheffield for being industrial, but the University is situated around many green areas and there are so many opportunities for students. Sheffield University lives up to its expectations; you feel at home the moment you reach the campus. Bearing in mind that it isn’t a campus university, so you really do get to feel the hustle and bustle of living in a city!
You should definitely consider the University of Sheffield, as you’re bound to find that your course is highly regarded by league tables, the city itself is student-orientated, and there is so much on offer!
Sunderland University – Gemma Hirst
Sunderland University is the university to go if you are a north east student that does not want to travel too far from home. It is the place to be if you have a passion for a subject, but you are not sure what to do with all that passion. It offers so many opportunities for students to gain work experience, leadership skills and an insight into the industry that they wish to work in after they graduate. No matter what industry, the sky is the limit when it comes to going into the world of work.
Sunderland University is split into three campuses: the City Campus, St. Peter’s Campus situated on the coast of Sunderland, and the new campus in Canary Wharf, London. All have a variety of award-winning facilities which cater for every student such as a gym, radio station, computer suites, studios and the BBC Blue Peter Studio. Yes, we don’t like to brag, but we do have the Blue Peter Studios that the likes of Matt Baker, Helen Skelton and Andy Akinwolere have presented in.
The University, named the Best New University in the North East in the Guardian University Guide 2011, has a impressive standard of teaching. The lecturers are professionals in their industries and are full of knowledge to support you in your learning. Without sounding too cliché – the University of Sunderland gives you a life-changing experience.
The United States – Nandini Sehgal
There must be something, there has to be. Why is the United States one of the premier destinations for international students? The answer is simple: because it has something for everyone. It offers a vast number of academic options, some which are probably even unheard of, with the freedom to focus on one area or even study a wide variety.
American education strives on its commitment to excellence, offering the best. Which is part of the reason why it is able to charge students such a high price because it is delivering on its promise of providing quality education. The United States is flexible. You can specialise, for example in the areas of medicine, or you can choose to take a range of classes during your first academic year and you don’t even have to choose a specific path right away. You can take as many or as few classes as you would like. The choice is all yours! The United States also offers immense financial support to students. Financial aid is a major incentive for international students, offers ranging from grants, loans and bursaries to cover daily expenses as well as tuition. One of the most important perks of studying in the United States is the job opportunities that follow. Upon completion of your degree, you are legally authorised to work in the United States in your related field for about a year. Which is good news!
Choosing to study in the United States is a daunting and often risky choice for several prospective students but it is worth the risk. It will yield high rewards and it will be an experience of a lifetime. And surely, a memorable one, as long as you don’t attend too many campus parties!
Warwick University – Helena Moretti
I don’t think that any university can claim to have everything, but Warwick certainly comes close (not to mention that it has just been named the Times University of the Year 2014-2015!). It has outstanding academics, hundreds of clubs and societies, and an excellent campus with everything you need. With excellent transport links to Leamington and Coventry, you have access to the nightlife and amenities of a city, while coming home to a lush, green campus.
For the studious, there are plenty of study spaces on campus: a 24-hour learning grid, a library with over two million books, dedicated Biology and post-graduate hubs and even a Leamington grid for off-campus study. The Students’ Union boasts its own bar and nightclub, and there are events on almost every night. There’s even a 24-hour supermarket next to the Students’ Union, so you can stock up on midnight supplies during revision!
Most importantly, my experience with academic and career support was second to none – lecturers, personal tutors and careers advisers are all more than happy to chat with you to go through any problems. This support enables students to thrive, and is part of what makes Warwick the top target university for graduate recruiters. No matter what your priorities are, Warwick has something for you. Come along to an open day to find out more!
Winchester University – Abi Britland
Established in 1840 as a training college, Winchester is ranked as the 10th best university to attend in the South East of England. It is separated into two campuses (King Alfred and West Downs), although it is considered one of the smaller universities with only 7,000 students enrolled overall. But don’t let its size fool you; it has a wide range of undergraduate subjects that can be studied as single or combined honours, as well as postgraduate and doctorate courses as well. Winchester also boasts a large number of sport and social societies, that are easy to join and fun to be a part of.
The staff at Winchester are always available to help with issues you may have. The University has many schemes in place to help students with disabilities of any kind, as well as personal tutors for their students to create a great support network for you if you ever need it.
Have these insiders’ guides helped you decide which uni you should go to? Let us know in the comments below!
Photo: FutUndBeidl / Flickr