Choosing a university
Universities range from the established collegiate universities, renowned for their research and academic focus, to locally based institutions that provide more vocational courses. Both types may be the best at what they do, but may offer a very different student experience.
- Campus or city?
- Distance from home
- University accommodation
- Academic and social facilities
- Visit the university
Campus or city?
A campus university offers a ready-made community as lectures, accommodation, libraries, social activities and catering facilities are all located on the same site.
A city university will offer the same facilities as a campus university but they are often spread over a wider area.
Students may have to take public transport from their accommodation to attend their lectures or to access the library. This type of experience may suit students who like the hustle and bustle of a city.
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Distance from home
Your son or daughter may choose a university closer to the family home in order to reduce accommodation costs. However, this can have an impact on their choice of course and potentially limit their options.
Financial assistance for full-time students is available in the form of living cost loans and non-repayable grants which can be used for accommodation and other living costs (see Funding your studies).
If your son or daughter does choose to move away from home, they will usually live in university accommodation in their first year and spend their second and third years in a shared house with friends.back to top
Universities provide accommodation to cater to all budgets: en-suite bedrooms, studio flats, shared houses and rooms with a shared kitchen and bathroom.
Study bedrooms usually include a bed, a wardrobe, desk space and a chair and some universities also provide rooms with internet access. Make sure you visit the university as you will have the chance to see the accommodation and raise any questions with university staff.
Have a look at Kent's accomodation You can even do a virtual tour!
Academic and social facilities
The main reason your son or daughter is applying to university is to earn a qualification. Therefore, they should ensure the academic provision is suitable for their chosen degree.
Things to consider:
- How many hours teaching time is scheduled per week?
- What type of academic feedback is available?
- Is the library well stocked with up to date resources?
- How many computers per student are there?
- Is modern, specific equipment relevant to their course (lab equipment etc) provided?
It is essential the social facilities at your son or daughter’s chosen university cater for their interests.
Most student unions have their own websites which provide details on student societies, entertainment, sport and other social aspects of university life. It is also worth investigating what is available in the local area.
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Visit the university
Choosing a university is more than choosing a degree programme, it is a lifestyle choice. Your son or daughter will spend a number of years studying and, if they move away from home, living there so it is important that you take the time to go and visit. You can get a certain amount of information from the prospectus and online, but visiting the university is the only way to get a true perspective.
Most universities hold open days where you can meet staff, speak to current students, look at the facilities and view accommodation. Some host a programme of events to give you an idea of what it is like to live and study there.
When you visit the university, make some time to have a look round the local town/city. Find out where the nearest supermarkets are and what local transport services are available (eg is the university on a bus route?).
During your visit, ensure you see everything you want to see and ask a lot of questions. Use the opportunity to talk to current students as they will give honest answers about student life at the university. Important things for your son or daughter to consider:
- Does it feel right?
- Does the course fulfil my expectations?
- Do the facilities meet my academic and social expectations?
- Could I see myself living/studying here for three or four years?