My 5 Top Tips When Choosing A University

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By Suraj, Advanced Mechanical Engineering
College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, University of Birmingham

With so many options on offer, choosing a university can seem like a daunting task – how do you know what’s right for you? MSc Advanced Mechanical Engineering student Suraj shares some tips:

  1. University Rankings

If you head to Google and search for worldwide university ranking, you would be able to find a multitude of websites that rank the universities based on their reputation, student experience and employability. Some of the main websites that I used were QS Rankings and The Times University Ranking. Be aware that university rank alone should not be a deciding factor as universities are a combination of multiple branches and the university might be ranked high due to just one of its departments performing well, so it is important to check the ranking based on your field of study.

Make a list of the top 5 or top 10 universities you would like to study at. I chose the University of Birmingham because of many factors, but also because it is ranked 90th in the world, is a very research-intensive University, and part of the prestigious Russell Group.

Old Joe on campus

2. Research at the University

Almost every university has a very descriptive website where they talk about the major research topics that the university is involved in. So, if there is a specific field or topic that you are interested in and if it aligns with the university’s research, it could compliment your career well. You will be able to work on real world projects for your final dissertation and this will increase your chances of landing a job in a field that you would like to build your career in.

3. Employability

To find out about the support available from your university for job opportunities, all you would have to do is to speak with the student ambassadors or visit the university website and search for the support they provide. Alternatively, email the university and they will be glad to help answer your queries.

There is also an employability ranking for every university on QS Rankings – you can even sort the ranking based on your area of study. This will help you rest easy knowing that the degree you are going to get is going to be valued by potential employers.

Sunset in Birmingham

4. Help and Support on Offer

We all know that some information online can be biased, so once you have shortlisted your top universities, you can head to ‘WhatUni’ and hear from the students themselves. This might help you get a better idea of the quality of life at the University.

The University of Birmingham provides help and support in almost every aspect, from accommodation to mental wellbeing. The University of Birmingham even has a fantastic Careers Network where you can book appointments to discuss your plan of action to land that job in the UK or anywhere in the world – the Alumni Network is wide and has a lot of reach.

5. Cost of Living

Last but not least, we all know being a student can be hard on your wallet. You can investigate a bit about the cost of living of the city that your university is based in. You will find that there are multiple cities that are student friendly and offer a low cost of living, compared to very expensive cities like London. I ended up living in Birmingham – which turned out to be very student friendly – with most shops in the city offering student discounts and, if you have your university identity card, you can travel on almost all local buses for just 1 pound.