Monthly Archives: September 2014

University application news (Sept 2014 for 2015)

A handful of pieces from the Guardian and more from the Telegraph here, all selected as relating to choosing universities.

First there’s the news in the recently-released QS rankings (one of the three major world university ranking systems, and a very credible list) that there are four British universities in the top ten. This is no surprise – the top British unis have long punched above their weight and are very research-focused, which pushes them up the rankings. (Note that the other two ranking systems, the THE400 and the Shanghai, use different criteria, and produce different rankings. Not only should you read about and cross-reference all three, but be aware that subject-specific rankings are generally more important than overall rankings.) Note that traditional informal weighting by employers doesn’t exactly follow this list either.

If you just want UK universities, the Guardian’s 2015 table is the best guide, in my view. And here’s an interesting article about the most gay-friendly universities. Whilst only a minority of candidates are gay, this is an interesting ranking because it might say something more general about universities’ inclusiveness, the social liberalism of the environment, and / or the general level of care for student welfare issues – so it’s worth asking questions like this. If nothing else, remember that far more than just a dry academic ranking ought to be in your mind while choosing.

One thing uncaptured by these tables is the extent to which the “top” universities are so because of their academic output, and they are not necessarily at all top in terms of interest in or attention to their normal undergraduate students: see this Telegraph article on how students come second. They’re businesses first and foremost, basically. And the removal of the cap on recruitment numbers makes some people think there will be a surge in EU student numbers (though I tire of pointing out to British xenophobes that UK students are also from the EU.) I don’t think this panic is fair, actually: who’d leave Holland or Germany, with much lower fees, for the privilege of working a warehouse morning and barwork evening job in London just to pay the higher fees and cost of living? I’m not sure British universities have an edge over continental ones that would cause me to come that way across the Channel. In fact if I were going to uni now and the course was available at a decent Dutch university, taught in English (as many are) I wouldn’t dream of picking a UK option over that. (Note also that the Guardian reports the end of the cap having caused chaos in the university sector. As usual, free markets screw up.)

Perhaps if you want a British university education, the secret is not necessarily the UK: many British universities increasingly run parallel campuses in other continents (including here in the UAE). You would probably need a specific cultural reason to want to go to these, but it serves to remind that the university sector is increasingly international (and many EU and US degrees now include an integral  year abroad, and Masters degrees are now often taken in another country.) The competition you will face in the job market is increasingly international (and ever-more challenging): so now even Chinese students are coming to study in US and other western schools (though probably to access the university sector: US universities are well-ranked in world terms, their schools less so.)

Finally, here’s the Telegraph’s pretty useful “prepare for university application” page. No rocket science here but solid help which is always worth checking.

Update: forthcoming careers events

There are a number of forthcoming visitors to the UAE who are either holding a university event or will be available to offer private university application support (at a price). Details:

  • St. Andrews is a good UK university. They will be holding an open event at JESS in Arabian Ranches, from 6.30pm on Wed 24th Sept, about their courses and entry requirements (and to some extent the wider Scottish system.)
  • Inner Universe are a private firm hosting Australian universities and Murdoch, Newcastle and RMIT will be holding events respectively on Thur 18th 2pm, Fri 19th 3pm, Sat 20th 10am. Email them to register if interested. (Their marketing didn’t say where.)
  • Gyanberry are agents for Charles University, Prague, for the testing in Duabi for the medicine programme. You need to sit their entrance exam this Friday (19th). Email them to register.
  • Gabbitas is bringing a former school careers advisor over to the UK to advise on university entrance (“Universities Uncovered”) at 6.30pm Mon 29th at Arabian Ranches Golf Club. It doesn’t sound like anything we don’t already advise you on anyway but check it out on their website if you want – it’s free.
  • Global Connections sounds like a commercial firm advising students on universities, being paid by UK universities to seek international students. They’re in Dubai Nov 2nd – 6th if you want some advice outside of school. Email Roua.

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Careers provision 2014-15

The careers provision for this year was outlined in this morning’s assembly: Careers 2014-15 . For those who were present please note the line about the careers fair at GCS: this partner school of ours is hosting a number of UK universities on the date indicated and you are welcome to go along. Please ring GCS for details.

The open Careers Clinic is every Monday morning 7.45-9.15am and is open to everyone. More details on the Meetings page.