We as international students spent plenty of money on our degree therefore it’s important that you spent it in the best way possible. This makes the choice of your university a difficult and stressful decision. Having gone through this twice already, I think I could offer some advice.
The obvious stuff:
- One of the first things people usually check is the ranking of the university. Times Higher Education and QS ranking are probably the most reputable ranking tables you can find. However, remember to go beyond that: look at the rankings of the universities by the subject, what kind of reputation the university has among employers, what is its contribution to research in the subject and which kinds of subjects has the most pride in.
- If your course is very popular, you will have plenty of choice when choosing a university, which also makes it really overwhelming. Always look at the specifics about the course you are considering. What subjects will you study? How broad or narrow is this degree? If you are slightly unsure about your course choice, having a diverse subject range in your degree will help you understand what you like, and might even allow changing your degree after 1st or 2nd year. If you are 100% sure what you want to do, taking modules unrelated to your degree will only annoy you. Is it mostly coursework or examination? Have you looked up who will be teaching you? Look up who teaches on your course and find them on LinkedIn: Do they have a lot of experience in the real world? Do you find their academic articles interesting?
- You will spent plenty of time in your city of choice and if you don’t like, it can make you feel really uncomfortable which will affect your studies as well. Some people prefer smaller towns with little going on, with calm and kind people, little noise and minimum traffic, while others want to feel the city living around them with parties and gigs. Look at the location of the university, if it has big shopping malls, if your favourite artists have venues there. The city will also determine accommodation and part-time job availability.
- Every university has statistics about the number of international students studying. When the number is high, it usually means that the university staff will know how to help you in every situation. They will have visa advisers in the student services centre, career advisers aware of working visa requirements, academic staff that know where you might have problems because of differences in education systems, counsellors that could help with your struggles if you are homesick. Moreover, a large international student community is a massive plus if you are afraid of the language barrier, if you want to connect with your culture again, if you want to share what you don’t understand or find funny about locals.
Try to get as many opinions as possible, look up pictures of the city and the uni, connect graduates. You will grow a lot at university and it is up to you which university will have a chance to change you.