Researching courses and universities

Higher Education offers students the opportunity to take their learning to the next level and study what interests them.

With over 35,000 courses on offer at hundreds of universities across the UK, students can continue to study a subject taught at school/college (English, Maths, Biology, for example) or they can opt to study a more specialist course, such as Sports Technology, Publishing or Quantity Surveying. The difficulty can be deciding which subject to choose.

Researching a course and institution

Watch our video for some hints and tips on how to make these key decisions.

We encourage you to discuss with your son or daughter what it is they want from their future. They need to understand the decision needs to be right for them and making a choice based on those made by friends or other family members can often lead to the wrong option being selected.

Once a student has decided what they want to study, the next crucial question is where. It is really important to pick the right university for them. This will help them settle in quickly and will have a positive impact on their work.

So how does a student start to narrow down these opportunities? We recommend an initial conversation to establish some basic facts. Consider the points below as they can help focus thoughts.


  • What modules are there to choose from?
  • What facilities are available?
  • Is there a placement year?
  • Is there a chance to study or work abroad?
  • How is the course assessed?
  • How is the course taught?
  • Is it single or joint honours?
  • Is it professionally accredited?
  • What are the entry requirements?
  • What is the length of the course?


  • How far is it from home?
  • Do you want a city or rural campus?
  • How many sites/campuses does it have?
  • Are there good transport links?
  • What are the local attractions like?
  • What clubs and societies are available?
  • What is the accommodation like?
  • Are there strong links with industry?
  • What is the league table position?
  • What are the student satisfaction (NSS) results?

League tables

These can be a good starting point when researching a university. They are compiled using a variety of different data looking at everything from research intensity, employability rates and staff to student ratios. It is important to note that just because a university ranks highly it doesn’t mean that it will be the best fit for your son or daughter. League tables should be considered alongside other criteria and not in isolation.

Next steps