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Child college bound? 5 questions to ask about UK university

Even post-Brexit, the UK remains a popular choice for students seeking a college overseas. At UWCSEA Singapore, 35% of students choose a uni based in the UK. If your child is looking at the UK as a university destination, here are five questions UWCSEA suggests they (and you!) might want to keep in mind:

What course does your child want to study at college?

  • Your child’s first decision is to decide what course to apply to. It sounds obvious but the UK uni system focuses more on depth rather than breadth so make sure they choose a subject that’s going to keep their interest for 3 or 4 years!
  • Some courses in the UK are very specialised in a single subject (for example, you can take War Studies at King’s College London). Increasingly, there are more joint honours courses on offer such as English and History. Plus, a handful of institutions in the UK now offer students the ability to choose “liberal arts” as a course and other combined studies courses.
  • Research the course content. Be aware, for example, that “War Studies” at King’s College London may be labelled “Peace Studies” or “International Relations and Security Studies” at other institutions.


What are the entry requirements and how do I apply?

The UK’s application system is UCAS, a centralised website under which all entry requirements for all courses are listed. UCAS has a database of all the schools and courses in the UK, along with published entry requirements (for all curricula) of each course at each institution.

Make sure you know the grades/points needed to get into your chosen course.

Where do I go to research the options?

  • League tables and subject tables will give you a sense of how these universities are ranked, but they won’t give you a sense of the experience you might have at an institution.
  • UWCSEA recommends the Complete University Guide’s subject rankings as well as resources listed on their own university advising page.
  • Go to an Open Day to get a real feel for the place.
  • Follow social media (YouTube, Facebook) to stay connected to the school.
  • Seek out alumni who live near you for advice.


What does the university offer in order to enhance employability?

Some schools offer courses with “sandwich years” or a “year in industry” or a “study abroad” option. These options are designed to enhance the employability of its students. Other schools offer a professional placement as an integral part of their course programme. Such courses will enhance a CV and potentially increase the chance of getting a decent job when you graduate.

What is student life like?

Don’t just focus on the academic. You want to get a better understanding of whether the campus and location suit you. Do students live in residence halls or off campus? What student societies and events are offered? To what extent is the campus an international one?
Research here is key. If you know someone who studies at the uni you have your eye on, try and organise a visit (and maybe an evening out!) to give you a better sense of whether it’s for you.


A word about Oxbridge

Did you know that Oxbridge candidates may apply for Cambridge or Oxford but not for both? Candidates who are competitive usually have A’s and A*’s at GCSE level, and are A*’s in A-levels, or a 38-40 in the IB curriculum.

What makes the application process different for applying to Oxbridge is that students are also assessed on their performance on an additional external assessment, as well as performance at an interview.
Both Cambridge and Oxford publish transparent, easy resources to help candidates understand what they’re looking for.

To read more advice from UWCSEA’s university advisors, visit their What’s Next blog.

Considering using a private counsellor to help your child get into college?