How to choose where to study

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Students comparing notes in university library

Picking where to study is no easy feat. With food-related courses on offer across the UK, you have plenty of choice (sometimes too much!). There are several key factors however that could influence the decision you make.

Where do you want to be?

Knowing if you like where your chosen university is, is important as, depending on the length of your course, you’ll be spending at least three to four years there.

Several factors may determine where you want to go to university. Do you mind being faraway from family for instance, or would you rather be close by? Make sure you find out what the transport links are like. How frequently do buses, trains or planes go to and from where your university is located, and what is the cost of the tickets on average?

Are you more comfortable living independently in a city, small town, or the countryside? Universities in or near smaller towns tend to have more of a tight-knit community feel, while city-based campuses have a faster pace of life. How long it will take you to adjust to your new living environment can depend on if you’ve grown up in a small town or city yourself – you may love it or the change might initially come as a shock. Food courses are offered at a range of different sized cities across the UK, meaning you don’t have to settle for somewhere like London if this is something you don’t think you want to do or can’t afford.

If you can, you should try and visit the location of the universities you’re interested in to get a feel for the city, town, region and campus, and whether you would be comfortable there. Universities tend to offer at least one open day a year, but you can also visit them at any point in the year. If you get in touch with your preferred universities, they might also be able to offer you an in-person tour outside of open day periods, virtual tours are also always available.

What type of university do you want to go to?

The great thing about studying for a food-related degree is that you can choose to study at different types of providers.

If you’re looking to study with lots of other students taking different courses, then sticking to a traditional large-scale university is the best option for you. Studying at a larger university also often means you will have the opportunity to take a discovery module in another subject unrelated to your department (depending on your course), which could enrich your learning and open you up to new opportunities within your career. For example, studying a new language will help you develop a new skill that could prove useful for a career in the food industry. 

You can also go to a more specialised university, tailored specifically to food, drink and agricultural courses. The benefit of this is that you get to study with lots of other people who are working in similar areas of research.

Is the age of the university of importance to you? Some institutions which fall under the Russell Group label have a long-standing history having been founded a long time ago and tend to be more research-intensive than other universities. The University of Oxford and University of Cambridge are also known worldwide for their leading academia. If research is an area you think would interest you, taking a degree at a research-focused institution might suit you the best.

Other, newer universities may still focus on academia, but many prioritise more vocational education, which is useful for building essential skills to prepare you for your career.

Is the course right for you?

With such a wide range of food and drink related courses on offer, it’s important you make sure you choose the one that you think you will get the most out of.

One factor which may determine which course you pick is the entry requirements. If your predicted grades don’t match, it is likely you won’t enjoy it. If you’re studying at a higher or lower level than your peers, it is likely you’ll struggle to get the most out of lectures and seminar discussions.

Make sure you also read through the syllabus of the courses you’re thinking of applying to. While most universities will have some core information that you need to know to succeed in their course, each university will follow its own unique syllabus structure so it’s important to research what will be taught and how you will be assessed. Is there a higher focus on practical work and exams, or independent research and coursework? If you want to get the most out of a university experience you should be studying a course that you enjoy and that you can excel in.  

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