What to Look for in a University

31 August 2017

By Lauren E. White

Thousands of us students across the UK are heading back to Sixth Form this September with the all-important decision of which university to choose on our shoulders. Plenty of us have been up and down the country looking at different campuses and courses this summer but now it is time to decide where we will apply.

It’s not easy knowing where you can ‘see yourself’ in the future, but it is possible. And you can get to that stage by looking at the many different factors below.


If you want to be away from home, it’s not advisable to choose a university that’s in the same city, unless you are moving into accommodation. Even then, though, it’s still pretty close to home, so really do think about it.

Anything out of the city you are from will be far enough because uni is a completely different environment anyway. Chances are, you have never seen the accommodation before or ever really visited the place. It’s far enough away that you don’t feel like your house is st down the road.


This is absolutely the most important part of making your university choice: the course.

Every university has different modules which make their course unique. For example, if you want to study Philosophy but don’t like the logic component, it would be wise to choose a university that doesn’t have logic as a core module.

You don’t want to spend three years hating your life, so choose a course you genuinely love and you can’t go wrong, really.

Assessment methods

Again, this might be a big issue for many people. If you really hate exams, it’s foolish to choose a course with 100% exams. Look at coursework, essays and presentations. Play on your strengths, but don’t underestimate yourself. Chances are, if you’re going to uni in the first place, you can be very good at exams if you try hard enough.


It goes without saying that university is an expensive three years. Cost is one of the largest factors when choosing a uni because you need to know that you can afford to live there in the first place.

You may be entitled to a student loan and a maintenance loan. The maintenance loan is the one you should pay the most attention to as it is supposed to go towards accommodation costs. Increasingly, the maintenance loan doesn’t actually cover the full cost of accommodation or living expenses, so you might be left with a gap to fill between what the government gives you and what you need.

You should check this before you apply to any university and especially before you get your heart set on one too.

Find out how much you are entitled to from the government here.

Societies/extra curricular activities

University is not just work (as I’m sure many of you already know), so it’s important to look at what the university offers you as a person, not an academic robot.

If you’re into sport, it’s good to look at how good the teams are and what teams are actually available. If you’re a writer, check out the university magazine or newspaper and so on.

I also like to see what the university actually gives back to others and so look for volunteering schemes at the uni. Some help the homeless, children and even organise trips abroad to help out in foreign countries stricken by famine and poverty.

Careers service

Perhaps one of the most important parts of university is the careers service available. Once you’re in your third year, you will be looking for jobs and it’s good to have the right people on hand to help.

It’s worth checking out what the university offers beyond the degree and into the world of work.

Good luck choosing universities – it’s a long road from here to January!

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