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It’s important that students think beyond the subject when choosing their degree

The importance of thinking beyond the subject when choosing your degree

Fiona McKenzie, Head of Education at Carfax Education, discusses why there are no rights and wrongs in the university students choose for further education so long as it reflects their needs

About 400,000 students from the 2023 cohort will attend university ‘Open Days’ to select their top full-time undergraduate degree courses offered at almost 300 UK institutions in the coming months.  Confident about the subject they want to study, there are still plenty of other factors to consider.  Such as, which university and course are best, not to mention the type of university experience they want, all of which will significantly impact the direction life takes them.  For many international students, UK universities were traditionally the top choice, but school leavers are now exploring options further afield across the rest of Europe and the US.

Against the international competition, UK universities remain a popular choice representing a more traditional route, offering a high-quality academic and vocational undergraduate experience.  This option also offers a familiar path for students who have studied a UK curriculum yet also has a long history of welcoming international students with other qualifications.  In addition, each university offers excellent support systems for welfare and practical support for students from abroad.

A key advantage of studying in the UK is the variety of subjects on offer and the subject-specific degrees. With a strong teaching history in traditional subjects, the UK also offers globally recognised courses for vocational subjects like medicine, veterinary science and engineering, as well as more niche courses such as Business Management, Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship at City University. Students can specialise from an early stage or combine subjects to form a joint degree.  The deadline for applications via the UK University Central Admissions System, known as UCAS, is January 26th 2023.  Although for, for those considering medicine, veterinary science and medicine at Oxford and Cambridge universities, have already missed the application cycle for this year which closed on October 15th.

Recognising the invisible forces that can influence pupils’ further education-decision making, I always offer the same honest advice to applicants:

1. Make a shortlist of universities and visit them if you can, attending their open days and sample lectures. Then, ask yourself, “could I see myself here?  Would it feel like a second home?”

2. Repeat visits will also improve the chance of getting a realistic view.

3. Consider whether you want a campus university, where everything is located on one site, or perhaps you would fare better where the university is in another part of the town or city, where the accommodation, teaching blocks and university facilities mingle with everyday life.

4. Accommodation choices are also important; whether living on campus in halls or renting accommodation in the city, you need to weigh the pros and cons of each.

5. US universities offer top coaching and career opportunities for students with big sporting ambitions, not to mention scholarships.  However, with US applications, there are several different timelines to consider.

6.  You can study most subjects at a large number of universities but consider how important the brand or reputation of the university is in the decision-making as a route to your future career.

Written by : Fiona McKenzie, Head of Education at Carfax Education