What Makes Some Universities ‘Better’ Than Others?

In recent years, with the rise of tuition fees, going to university is not a decision taken lightly by the high school graduates of today. University offers a huge number of benefits, both educationally and socially, and having a degree under your belt can make a massive difference when trying to find employment. In fact time and time again statistics have shown that individuals who have obtained a degree are favoured above those who do not when competing for the same job positions.

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The wonderful thing about going to university is that you get to choose where you would like to go (grades permitting of course) and it is important to do thorough research into a university and the course that you are applying for before making any final decisions.

There is a wealth of information out there for canny undergraduates who want to know the ins and outs of universities they are interested in attending. Not only are there league tables and surveys which help to give an idea of where the university is placed in terms of academic excellence, but there are also other ways that will help a student make a decision about which is the best institution for them.

One is obvious -visit the university in person. Universities like Fresno Pacific University Online often hold open days where they allow potential students to take a look around a get a real feel for campus life. This includes checking out the facilities on offer. This is particularly helpful to students who are determined to get on to a particular course. If you want to be an engineer for example, ensuring that the institution you attend has state of the art facilities is hugely important similarly if you are interested in sports, art or music you should be allowed to take a peek at where you will be taught, talk to students who are on the course and see what facilities are available to you to make sure you can get the most out of your degree.

As John Vinney, vice-chancellor of Bournemouth university pointed out “one size does not fit all.” Just because some universities are considered more prestigious than others, and indeed have a heftier price tag to go with them, it doesn’t actually mean that this kind of institution will be the best for each and every student. “No university is better than any other — each offers something different,” he said.

 

While this is true to a certain extent, there are certainly things you can look for in a university that will make it ‘better’ for you. Student satisfaction surveys, for example, are out in the public domain and will give an overview of how the students attending the university rate it on a number of factors. You should also talk to perspective employers in your given field as they may respect a qualification form one university more so than another. If you are determined to work for them once you graduate, this may well influence your decision. It is important to keep abreast of this information though and find the most accurate and up to date information, as the fluctuation of universities who top the league tables and do best in the student satisfaction surveys can change significantly year upon year.

Often universities specialise in one particular subject and this is where they have invested a significant amount of time and money and recruited leading professors in that field. While overall that university might not be performing the best, if the subject you are interested in is the one they specialise in again this is food for thought. Having incredible research facilities, state of the art equipment and pioneering, passionate teachers will make all the difference when it comes to the quality of your learning.

Indeed measuring academic success and understanding what is on offer in terms of teaching and resources available is easier to quantify then trying to assess the quality of student life at a particular university. The best universities will not only focus on providing their students with the highest quality education, but also invest in creating a welcoming environment and providing opportunities for social interaction and experiences which will enrich their lives. Excursions, clubs, groups and social events are vital to ensuring students have a full and positive experience during their time at university. Of course a lot can also rest on the area where the university resides. Cities that are known to be safe, vibrant and welcoming with interesting arts and cultural attractions, a varied nightlife, and plenty to see and do are going to have a far greater appeal then those where there is little on offer, have a reputation for being rough, and where it is known that there is often tension between the students and the local residents.

The quality of accommodation can also play a factor in deciding on a university. This can vary widely from place to place and being offered modern, spacious housing can tip the balance when deciding between one university of another.

So perhaps it is not a case of one university being better than another, but what a university can offer an individual. Different students have different needs, standards and ideas about what they want to get out of the university experience. Having a firm idea of what you want to achieve at the end of your degree, what is important to you, and what you are willing to sacrifice will put any perspective student in good stead, and, as long as they are willing to put the time in to researching the different universities out there, on the right path to picking a university that is right for them.

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