Home » Studies » Want to Study in the UK? Choose the right institution with these helpful university guides

While coming to the UK to start life as an international student is probably one of the most exciting periods of your life, we understand that it can be challenging when the resources home students enjoy aren’t always at your fingertips.

While most international students will have a wholly positive experience, in some cases International students simply don’t have the same level of knowledge as home students when choosing universities and colleges in the UK. Their choices are often made on the basis of online research, affordable options and, more worryingly, opting for universities simply because they are likely to accept them.

There’s no substitute for visiting an institution, talking to tutors from your department and seeing the facilities with your own eyes, but there are still a number of guides you can use to make sure your university is seen as an authoritative and supportive institution.

The following sources are factors that UK home students use to help determine quality universities before they apply, so before you start to make choices, it’s well worth taking a look at both the academic and student satisfaction credentials of potential institutions.

The Guardian University Guide


The Guardian University Guide is published every year and rates UK universities based on teaching scores, National Student Survey scores (see below), spending per student (i.e. university investment in services), the student-staff ratio, career prospects and entry scores.

Generally the Guardian guide is quite an accurate portrayal of the most prestigious universities with the oldest and most competitive universities topping the list. Of course it isn’t a definitive guide and in some cases, newer ‘ex-polytechnics’ will rank higher than universities with academically better reputations, so while it’s worth bearing the guide in mind, applying to a selection of those in the top 10 isn’t necessarily indicative of your future success or happiness while studying.

Satisfaction Surveys


The National Student Survey (NSS) is aimed at current final year university students and gathers honest opinions about their experience of their university. The survey is completely independent and the results are publicly available via Unistats making this a useful resource for students looking for an unbiased insight.

Open Days

It may not be possible for you to attend open days before starting your course, but if you’re planning on visiting the UK in the year leading to your course start date, then try to attend an official open day or use the time to at least walk around the university and its accommodation. Current students and graduates will often claim that they instantly knew which university they wanted to attend from a ‘gut feeling’ they experienced on an open day, so make sure you try to focus on a range of factors. Do you feel comfortable with the size of the campus or city? Do staff members and student ambassadors seem friendly, knowledgeable and welcoming? All of these considerations should be kept in mind, after all if you are an undergraduate or PhD student then you will probably be studying there for at least 3 years!

We hope you’ll find these simple tools useful for determining universities which will suit you both academically and socially. Utilising careers services wherever possible is always worthwhile, but it’s important for international students to carry out their own research too, especially when it comes to making such a personal decision.

Featured image from Kapalan International

Post Submitted by Victoria Browne.

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