UniPod: Choosing a University - Episode 2!

Unipod this week focuses on the importance of location in terms of university choice. Here we speak to Mollie Luckhurst, a university counsellor from BridgeU, as well as real life Dubai student Antonio, on how he made his decision between three very different universities... The series is the initiative of Josie Campbell, University Counsellor at Jumeirah English Speaking School, and Buket Ayaz, the University Counsellor at Uptown School.
UniPod: Choosing a University - Episode 2!
By David Westley
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The choice of campus can be as important (if not more) important than choice of the course itself. While US universities tend to be campus based, UK and European universities are often slap bang in the middle of the hustle and bustle of city life.

In this week’s episode of Unipod, Mollie Luckhurst from online university counselling service, BridgeU, talks through the options students have at this time, and what they should consider; while Dubai student Antonio makes it all very real, explaining how he made his decision between three very different university offers.


The advantages & the disadvantages...

Advantage: You can roll straight out of bed into your lecture halls. Not literally though, obviously.

Advantage: Many campus universities are completely self-contained: you can eat, drink, sleep, learn, go to the doctors, shop, get your haircut and party all in one place. We’ll let you decide whether that’s a good thing or not.

Advantage and Disadvantage: Campus living can engender a close knit community. Some campuses are practically ‘mini towns’ in themselves, feeling very secure and student-oriented. Some students thrive in this kind of environment, while others can find the whole ‘campus bubble’ a bit too claustrophobic.

Advantage: Safety.Student safety can be a big draw, especially in cities where crime might be high. Often with a dedicated security network, members of the public would rarely have reason to be there.

Advantage: Non-campus universities can be sprawled out, dominated by the city in which they reside. Students will spend more time and more money travelling between different university sites, whereas campus universities conveniently have most of their facilities in close range.

Disadvantage: Campus universities are often located on the outskirts of a town or city, although there are some exceptions, such as Aston University. Some people might prefer being closer to the action. It can get expensive travelling into the city or town centre, particularly if it means you have to get a taxi to and from nightlife spots.

Advantage, and Disadvantage: Campus life will suit the introvert student and those who prefer a quiet life, not having to deal with busy traffic during lectures or library sessions ruined by public roadworks outside, but you may soon get bored with going to the same places night after night and feel claustrophobic for not having additional options...

Ways to help you decide

1. Chat to current students

• All universities now have the facility for you to chat online to current students, here's one example...

• UCAS offers a similar chat service, where you can chat to students from Dubai!

The Student Room is a popular chatroom but be aware that posts are often subjective, so don’t believe everything you hear!

2. Ask Questions on Virtual Open Days!

Here are 50 suggestions for questions:

1. How will the course be assessed?
2. How many students will be on the course?
3. What careers have recent graduates gone on to?
4. Is there opportunity to take a placement? If so, will the university organise this?
5. What does a placement/year abroad mean and what does it do?
6. What sort of student support provision is in place?
7. Do the staff seem knowledgeable and accessible?
8. What are the advantages and disadvantages of living on or off campus?
9. What sports and societies are available at university?
10. How employable is my degree?
11. What job opportunities are there at university?
12. Do you have interviews for a course?
13. What grades do you need – and can you still get a place if you don't quite get the grades?
14. Which qualifications and combinations of qualifications do they accept/prefer?
15. If they use the UCAS tariff, will they count all your qualifications?
16. Is it worth applying for more than one course?
17. What do they look for in your application and personal statement?
18. How do they feel about gap years and deferred entry applications?
19. Is it an advantage to get your application in early?
20. What the course will be like when you’re there?
21. What does the course cover?
22. How many hours a week will I be in timetabled teaching?
23. How much flexibility is there?
24. What assessment methods are used?
25. Are placements or study abroad on offer, where are they, how are they organised, are they paid, how do they affect tuition fees?
26. What are the pros and cons of taking a joint or combined course?
27. How will the course make you more employable? Do they offer or arrange placements?
28. What have previous students gone on to do after graduating?
29. What proportion go on to postgraduate study? Do you need to a postgraduate course to get a job?
30. Is a place in halls guaranteed?
31. What accommodation is available off-campus?
32. How big are the rooms – are some bigger than others? How quiet are they? How secure is it?
33. Do most students stay on campus at weekends?
34. What happens in years two and three?
35. How far will you have to travel to get into university and around town?
36. Can you bring a car?
37. What's on offer here that will provide opportunities for you to develop your employability skills? Are there any connections with local employers?
38. Are there any jobs on campus available for students?
39. Are there any volunteering opportunities?
40. What academic support is available?
41. What sports and societies are available?
42. What are the transport links like? Are most things available on campus?
43. How do the costs actually break down? How much money will you need to survive?
44. To what extent will you need/be able to find part-time work?
45. What bursaries, scholarships or fee waivers are there and how do you apply?
46. How do placements or a year abroad or a year in the industry affect your costs or tuition fees?
47. What are your student fees and finance options?
48. If we are stuck with an assignment, who can we go to for help?
49. Lots of universities offer the subject, so why should we choose you?
50. Do you help find the placements and are they paid?

This podcast has been brought to you by...

Josie Campbell

Josie currently works as a University Counsellor at JESS Dubai. Before moving back to Dubai, she was Head of Careers at Ampleforth College, where she also taught English and Drama. Josie also works professionally in theatre, film, radio and voice-over.

Buket Ayaz

Buket is a University Counsellor at Uptown School in Dubai, with over 10 years of experience working in international schools. It is her lifelong passion to help students find the right ‘fit’ university and get them prepped for the world of work.

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