This week, the UK's Guardian newspaper published its latest university guide. Regular readers of my blog will know I have quoted this source before. I have favourably compared it with other guides such as the Times Higher Educational Supplement (THES). There is a new, and I think, very useful feature of the latest Guardian information pack. They call it the "University Profiles Index" and you can find it here.
I am making this the topic of today's blog post with KY juniors in mind. Our seniors are now well into CIE A-levels, and have long ago made their university choices. They will also have received offers of places and are currently working towards achieving them. For the juniors, it all starts to get serious next semester when they begin the university application process. Many of them have already done their research into the kind of course - and the precise nature of the university - which they will be applying for. However, there are plenty of students around, (and I suspect, more than a few parents, too), who have yet to make up their minds and could do with a handy guide to all the UK options available (sadly, the Guardian does not cover US and Australian institutions). If the intention is to study in the UK, I believe this Index can be of help to anyone who consults it.
The guide is particularly useful in that it specifies the range of fees charged, accommodation costs, potential bursaries, etc. At the end of each university snapshot, the actual website of the institution chosen is shown, so that readers can go there directly in search of greater detail. As far as sponsored students are concerned, you will have been given a list of approved universities, so, again, you can start by looking them up on the Index and subsequently taking things forward from there.
There are a few things of which you should be aware. For example, the Index does not differentiate between Russell Group Universities and the rest. If you are interested in a particular city or location from the Guardian site, you can subsequently find out which 24 universities are members of the Russell Group here. Secondly, the Index really is only a snapshot: you will need to do a lot more research than simply scrolling through the list on display. Nonetheless, it is a great starting point.
I am addressing this post chiefly to parents of private students this week. Setting aside Oxford and Cambridge, the majority of KY students pick London locations. Of course, Imperial, UCL, Kings, SOAS, City and the rest are great places, but London is also an extremely expensive city in which to live. Many highly respected universities away from the capital offer a first class education that will cost a lot less. Moreover, much as we applaud our young people's intelligence at KY, there is ample evidence that their university choices are, sometimes, worryingly capricious. I have often, for instance, heard a student say that he (the applicant usually is a male) has chosen Manchester because of its nearness to a certain football club. I hope most university selections are based on surer foundations than this!