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Types of Universities

Posted 06 November 2013
university type UK

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Choosing your university can be one of the most important decisions of your life. It is already a fantastic decision to aim for a UK university, given their international reputation. However, it is clear that not all UK universities are the same. There are many types of university you can apply to, each with their own strengths. Thus it is greatly advisable for students to consider their options carefully, to take into account all the differences among universities, to make the best, most informed choice possible. Applying to university is a stressful process, and not knowing whether your chosen universities are suitable for you only adds to the pressure. This article will attempt to roughly categorise the different types of university.

Choosing your university can be one of the most important decisions of your life. It is already a fantastic decision to aim for a UK university, given their international reputation. However, it is clear that not all UK universities are the same. There are many types of university you can apply to, each with their own strengths. Thus it is greatly advisable for students to consider their options carefully, to take into account all the differences among universities, to make the best, most informed choice possible. Applying to university is a stressful process, and not knowing whether your chosen universities are suitable for you only adds to the pressure. This article will attempt to roughly categorise the different types of university.

1.  Oxbridge.

The most famous of them all, University of Oxford and University of Cambridge deserve their own category. Oxbridge is the portmanteau of these two ancient universities, whose international renown can never be refuted. Both universities are collegiate; the colleges run their own independent academic programmes. Oxbridge prospective candidates also apply through UCAS, but they have to abide by the strict deadline of October 15. Students also have to bear in mind that they can only apply to either Oxford or Cambridge. No students, bar Organ Scholarships hopefuls, are allowed to apply to both universities. Oxbridge is exceedingly traditional with strict academic dress code and traditions.

2.  Russell Group universities.

Russell Group is an organisation comprised of 24 leading UK universities which commit to the best quality of research as well as teaching and learning experience. Russell Group universities are more often than not traditional universities, offering orthodox academic courses such as Classics, Law or Mathematics to name but a few. Russell Group universities receive the majority of research grant and contract income in the UK. Russell Group universities are some of the most competitive universities in the country, owing to their long-standing global reputation in both researching and teaching. Students who are interested in pursuing a traditional degree in arts, sciences or social sciences should definitely aim at Russell Group Universities as their first choices. However, students who wish to study a more vocational degree should think twice and consider other options before applying. Russell Group universities are sometimes referred to as red brick universities, even though not all of the universities are chartered before or at the beginning of the 20th century.

3.  New Universities

In 1992, the government passed the Further and Higher Education Act, which granted university status to all polytechnics and colleges of higher education. New universities, or modern universities as they are sometimes referred, are relatively young compared to the ancient and red brick universities but they are not an inferior option. Along with traditional degrees, most new universities offer courses in more vocational subjects and disciplines. From tourism management to computer gaming technology, these universities cater for all. So if you do not fancy spending three years reading strictly academic subjects and want to do a more career-orientated degree, new universities are options worth exploring.

It needs to be emphasised that the three categories I outlined above are broad generalisations. No two universities are identical, and some universities in one category may be more similar in one way or another to universities in another category. Students should keep an open mind when choosing universities. Don’t let assumptions and prejudices cloud your judgment and remember that there will always be support available. Don’t hesitate to talk to your family, tutor or programme manager, whose advice never ceases to be invaluable and essential at any stage of application.

Autumn Hoang

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