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Choosing a uni course: five things students wish they'd considered

We asked first year uni students to look back on what they wish they'd thought more about when choosing a university...

Some of what’s listed below may not immediately come to mind when you’re weighing up different university courses, but they can actually make a real difference to your student experience. Here's how to find out more to help make the right decision for you.

Got a subject in mind? Learn more about studying it at uni...

1. The number of scheduled teaching hours

The number of timetabled teaching hours – and what you'll be doing during those hours – is often down to the course and subject area you're studying. Science students, for example, may have lengthy periods in the lab, while humanities students may have fewer sessions of face-to-face contact but be expected to do more hours of independent study.

However, teaching hours for the same subject can vary from uni to uni. Find out beforehand what a typical week will look like for you by reading about a course on our course profiles, checking prospectuses or asking at an open day.

2. The sorts of people who go there

You’re likely to meet lots of different types of people at university, regardless of which one you go to. Some may be similar to the friends you have already, but you're also likely to find yourself rubbing shoulders with people of all ages, from different cultural and academic backgrounds, with different interests and from the far-flung corners of the world. 

A good way to get an early feel for whether you’d fit into a particular uni is to go on an open day, but you can start building up a picture of who your fellow students could be by looking up specific courses on The Uni Guide – we've listed out stats including male/female, full-time/part-time and young/mature ratios. 


3. The learning and assessment style

Do you... 
  • perform better in exams or would you choose coursework every time?
  • prefer to spend most of your time in taught lectures and seminars?
  • feel at home studying independently in the library? 
  • like the idea of a work placement as part of your course?
Asking yourself these questions can help you find out whether the courses you’re interested in are suited to how you like to learn or be assessed. There can be big differences in how courses are taught and structured.

4. The financial support on offer at the uni

We all know that going to university isn't cheap. From accommodation to general living costs, right down to all those little extras you hadn't factored in, it can be hard to stretch your student loan.

What you might not know is that there is extra funding available – via universities, charities, trusts and your local council – designed to help you cover the costs of university that, unlike your student loan, you won't need to pay back. This funding ranges from scholarships and bursaries to help with paying for textbooks and course equipment. A good starting point to find out more about financial support is by visiting the university’s website.

5. Degree classes awarded

Employers want to recruit the best graduates – and for some (but not all) graduate-level roles, you’ll need a 2:1 minimum to apply.

The degree class you graduate with ultimately depends on the hard work and effort you put in as an individual. It can be useful, though, to find out what percentage of  recent students graduated with a 2:1 or above. If you notice a big difference in this figure when comparing courses asking for similar entry requirements, it could be worth asking the university why this might be.

Now you know what to look for, search for a degree course now.

About the data
An online survey of 1,200 students who have just completed their first semester of university, between 11 and 19 December 2012, conducted via YouthSight.​

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