It goes without saying that there are number of challenges when thinking about which university is right for you. There are questions around the cost of living, how far away from your parents you will be, and whether the broader university culture is right for you. People often go into higher education thinking that the prestige of the university or the quality of the course is the only thing which matters. However, this approach often has quite tragic results. The Daily Telegraph recently reported on the fact that some universities were fuelling the mental health crisis facing young people in the United Kingdom. Your choices matter, and the design of the university matters.
The first type of university which you might want to consider in your UCAS application are collegiate universities. The most famous examples of this kind of education system are Oxford and Cambridge Universities, but the full list of collegiate universities in the UK can be found here. There are some distinct advantages to being in a collegiate university. University can be an alienating place, and the college system provides a sense of community. They will organise a range of activities which you can take part in throughout term. There will also be opportunities to have some oversight over the student community. The major downside is that colleges often become quite cliquey and some people see this as inhibiting the full range of socialising. It can also create a cost that you cannot control, as most collegiate universities will make students stay in house for set periods of time.
The second type of university style is the city university set up. Sheffield, Manchester and Edinburgh are Russell Group examples of this type. This does very much what it says on the tin. The university is not based on a single site – instead, there are a number of different buildings and departments which will be spread across the city and will require some transit in order to get there. Collegiate universities are also like this to a lesser extent. Of course, applying to a Russell Group university brings a whole range of benefits, but the set up of the university itself can also offer a variety of advantages. For instance, one of the great advantages of living in the heart of a city is that it often provides the greatest scope for personal development. Facilities are likely to be more wide-ranging (though not exclusive to students) than they would be anywhere else. For those who care for partying and eating out, these places will cater to a far wider range of tastes. However, it is quite easy to get lost in the urban jungle. There are still concerns over the safety of students, especially young women walking home alone.
The final type of university is known as a campus university. The Student Room (a resource Allen & Jain wholeheartedly recommend) has compiled a list of all the campus universities in the United Kingdom. These are dedicated facilities which have been built with the purpose of university education in mind. All of the lecture theatres, recreational facilities, and a number of catering options are owned by the central organisation for use by students. These facilities will often be subsidised, which can greatly reduce the cost of living. It also provides a chance to not need to think about accommodation, as that will be provided by the university at below market rates. The downside of a campus university is that the community often feels forced and does not provide a chance to develop in the way that other students do. Many campuses are far away from urban areas and good transport links, which can pose problems for international students.
As always, picking which university you want to attend is a difficult process which needs some careful consideration. Never hesitate to contact the Allen and Jain team if you have any questions about tutoring, admissions or applying to a Russell Group university or top international university – we can see if we are able to help your particular set of circumstances.