How, indeed. You have heard all about how important the research is when deciding the university and the course. But, how do you even start researching for UK universities?
Is university rankings a good place to start?
Yes, they are. For anyone who has no idea about the universities in the UK, then the first step to research for UK universities is to check university rankings. Websites like Times Higher Education, QS University Rankings, and similar websites come in handy.
You can even do a course-wise research for UK universities.
So, from that starting point, how do you carry forward? Let us follow this 5-step checklist.
Step 1: Check course-wise rankings of universities
Course-wise rankings are a way to check which universities are ranking the best for the course that you wish to take. This helps in quickly zeroing in on the universities that you want to have a look at.
Step 2: Browse university websites
Once you have the list of the top ten, fifteen or whatsoever number of universities you are looking at, then review the websites of each. Take time and look around the website. Look at the course that you wish to pursue, the eligibility requirements, fees and funding, potential career options available after the course. Stick to the academic sections of the website. Have a look around at the professor’s profiles. This is just to help you familiarise with the academic resources at the university.
Step 3: Browse for non-academic stuff
Now, browse for more non-academic stuff. Think about the type of social clubs that the university has, how the campus looks like, does the university have a library and so on. Basically, here, we are looking at how the university scores on the non-academic front. You are not going to be doing academics throughout the year. And if your university fails to engage your creative/social/non-academic intellectual sides, then it would be a hard place to study at. Additionally, do not forget to check out their social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, among a few others.
Step 4: Look for reviews of the university
This might be a bit hard to get, but you can still try searching for university and reviews on Google and YouTube. Just read/hear what other people who have completed their degrees from those universities have to say about it.
This might seem like an obvious step for most of you, as looking for reviews comes naturally to the millennial generation.
Step 5: Career Counselling Department
My experience with the career counselling department of Queen Mary University of London was annoyingly unsatisfactory. They did not have counsellors who could help you international students who were in need of visa sponsorship.
Therefore, my advice to you, check out the career counselling page and see if they have a section devoted to international students. If they do, look for information around visa sponsorship. If, however, you fail to find this information, then you can simply send out an email to the university asking how helpful their career counselling department is when it comes to international students.
Why is Step 5 Important?
Because it will only be this department that will help you out in securing jobs in the UK in the course that you are pursuing. Therefore, this is a very crucial step.
Which UK university is the best for you?
There is no such thing as the best UK university. Do not go buy the rankings of the university. While they help you to begin your research, however you must trust your own research more than anything else.
- You need to find a university that offers excellent academic resources. By excellent academic resources, I mean highly reputed professors, well-equipped library and a department that addresses all your academic needs.
- On the non-academic front, the university should have a good number of cultural groups you can join. This is because you simply cannot study every day throughout your stay at the university.
- Moreover, it is important that the university supports you in securing a job once you have completed the course. Otherwise, what good is a university that does not help you in getting a job after completing the course?
Now, in order to assist you with understanding which university is the best for you, I have created a system using which you can rank the universities. But how do you rank them? Simple. You do your research for the university and then answer some questions about them.
Basis those answers, you rank each university. And once you have a list of say, 5 universities, which rank highest, you can go ahead and apply to those universities.
The Points-Based System
This system works best when you know exactly why you are pursuing the particular course from that university. Before you use this system, you need to understand whether your course in consideration falls under any three of these categories:
- Normal Route: You select the course because you think it adds value to your career. It means you are taking this course only when you know that there is possible career advancement. You are also passionate about the career.
- Hustle Route: You are passionate about the course and it also helps you to select the career of your choice. Alternatively, you are extremely passionate about the course. But, you do not know if you can make a career out of it right after graduating. In the alternative case, you need to figure out another source of income.
My situation is a combination of some
Understood. If your situation is so that you feel both the career and passion are your priority, and if you do have a career that you can get into and start making money right after graduation, then choose the third priority.
I don’t know what my situation is
Do your research. Look up for jobs on Google in the field of your choice. And then you will understand whether the course that you wish to pursue will actually help you secure a job in the UK. For instance, you are a Science student and plan to pursue a hard sciences courses from the UK. But you are confused whether you want to pursue it because you are passionate about it, or whether there are good chances of securing a job with it. In that case, do your research for jobs in the UK. Once you have done the research you will know if you actually have a chance of securing a career.
Additionally, read about that course on Google, universities’s pages, read about the current developments in that field. The purpose of that is to see if some interest is stimulated by this research. Talk to your teachers/friends/professors/mentors about it. You will then know whether you are actually interested by the course or not.
I am still confused
It’s okay to be confused. I understand that this is not something that everyone would be able to understand in the first go. In that case, simply do the research about the course (or, courses) that you wish to pursue and keep reading about jobs available, current developments in that disciple and other essential stuff. This will spark some interest.
Once you have done that, you can start from step 1 here.