How to choose a University

With well over 100 Universities in the UK and thousands of courses, there are plenty of options when it comes to choosing one that’s right for you. It can be a little overwhelming to start off with, so we’ve broken down some of the main considerations you need to think about when choosing a university.
If you want to check out a university in person, look at our list of open days.

How to choose a university

Getting Started

To get started, here are a few initial considerations to take into account

Choosing a subject

At this point, you probably have a general idea of what area you want to study. Choosing some subjects will narrow down your options considerably. For example, if you wanted to study history, you have over 120 course options at over 100 universities, whereas if you wanted to study International Politics and Intelligence Studies… you will be studying at Aberystwyth.

If you’re still undecided then it’s worth considering the following:

What interests me?

You will be studying for at least 3 years and need to be very motivated in order to do well, so it’s best to pick a subject that interests you and that you will be happy studying. Remember that most courses will have a degree of flexibility and will allow you to choose different options and units.

What career would I like to go into?

Your choice of course won’t usually restrict your career options too much, unless of course you intend to work in the Legal, Medial or Engineering sectors. With that said, if you have a specific career or field in mind, a degree in a related subject does open up doors. Think carefully about how your choice could benefit your career path. If you have a specific company in mind, ask their HR or Recruitment team for job requirements.

Academic Considerations

Ultimately, you are at university to learn, so a major consideration should be how they function academically. Many newspapers publish rankings of universities, which can be helpful in making your choice. Remember that a University’s overall ranking might not be reflective of its ranking in a particular subject matter, so it’s work taking both the subject ranking and overall ranking into account.

Another thing to take into account is how you will learn. Ask about how many contact hours you can expect with your professors and look for past student reviews whenever possible.

You can also check to see if the University offers any schemes to help graduates into employment and what the average employment percentage of graduates is.

Practical Considerations


Even with student loans and grants, cost is a very real consideration. If you are planning on staying at home while you study, then you will need to work out the costs of commuting to the university.

Living Expenses

If you are planning to move to a university further afield, then you will need to think about the costs of the initial move and also of travelling back home during the holidays and summer break. Most students will live in halls during their first year, so look to see what price ranges are offered by the university. For 2nd and 3rd years, most students move out and live in the town or city nearest the university, it’s a good idea to consider the local rental market. If your university is located some distance from the town, bear in mind the travel costs such as bus fares.

Social Considerations

Officially we have to say that this should be low down on your list of priorities…. But we’d be remiss if we didn’t list it as a factor in making your choice.

It’s worth thinking about if having a party town atmosphere is important to you, or if you would be happier in a quiet town. Another thing to bear in mind is the range of societies on offer – many universitites have a wide range of clubs and societies, from the traditional sports and food clubs to the weird and wonderful. Quidditch anyone?

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