Why choosing the right university is important

Student life offers enormous opportunities and, while some of these may be linked to the location or community that you are living in, most will be focused on the university itself. Your university is not only your place of study, but it is also likely to be where you live, make friends and socialise.

Each university has a unique character and offers its own blend of academic, cultural and social opportunities. For example, this might include: a great reputation for particular subjects, specific academic facilities; a distinct campus culture; a tradition in the arts; a strength in certain sports; a track record in graduate employment.

You may already have a clear idea of what you want your university to offer, but many people like to take their time and research before coming to a conclusion. To help with this, we have included details on how to use our university choice app, as well as suggestions to help you find out more, including through open days and taster courses.


University choice app

We have created Think Uni, a new university choice app that helps school leavers learn more about undergraduate options across the UK. In particular, it looks at data on universities and outcomes for their students after they graduate.

If you are thinking about going to university, you can use the app in two main ways:

  • The first is as a digital assistant that asks you a series of quickfire questions, recommends some universities that match your preferences and then lets you explore the data. 
  • The second is as a lookup function that lets you select a university and subject that you are interested in, and then lets you view the relevant data for that combination.


Open days and taster courses

You can learn a lot from data on universities, including the Think Uni app and others. Once you have shortlisted some universities that you are interested in, open days and taster courses can be a great next step to gain further experience of life at a university before you apply.

Open days give you the opportunity to visit a university and to consider whether it might be the right place for you. You will typically meet with staff and students, and be given the opportunity to ask questions about student life, including courses, accommodation, student facilities, finances etc. While these days are aimed at prospective students, parents or guardians are usually very welcome to join.

UCAS: Open days  opendays.com  unitasterdays.com

Taster courses are offered by many institutions to enable you to get a feel for what it would be like to study your subject there. You will typically experience some of the different teaching methods and gain insight into the facilities available.

UCAS: Taster courses


How to find out more about universities

One helpful way of finding out more is to speak to teachers, siblings, friends or family contacts who may have studied at the university you are interested in. However, bear in mind that, depending on when they were there, they might not be the most up-to-date.

Another helpful way of finding out more is to look at publicly available data on universities. This might include a university’s own website; or university ranking websites such as Guardian University Guide or Complete University Guide. If you want to go into depth, you could also explore official statistics from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

You can get started with some effective independent research just using Google or YouTube. So, to find out more about a university, you might want to think about:

  • Academic study – e.g. courses, facilities
  • Location - e.g. city-based or campus, accommodation, transport
  • People - e.g. number of students, diversity on campus
  • Rankings - e.g. overall rankings, top subjects

Building on the above data, we have created a detailed profile of two regions, which you can access via the links below. We will be adding more regional profiles over the coming months.

East Midlands

North West