September 2021. Last-minute uni tips, key dates and food for thought for UK uni entrance.

Monday September 20th, 2021

Welcome to your September edition. I hope you had a good summer and that the return to school has gone smoothly. If you’re getting ready to begin university, you might find our section on last-minute uni tips helpful. We’ll also cover key dates and food for thought for students starting to prepare for uni entrance in a year’s time, as well as some further thoughts on what sets independent schools in the UK a class apart from their state counterparts.

About to start university?

Here are some tips from students who learnt the hard way! From utensils to décor to being party ready, past students share their advice.

For the kitchen:

Cheese Grater

Don’t over-pack bowls, plates, cutlery… you’ll just need a small selection (and some washing up liquid!) Do pack a cheese grater – and keep it to yourself because few people seem able to wash them properly! Alongside this, a garlic press, decent knife and non-stick frying pan are all wise investments. Teamed with a whole host of Tupperware, it means you can fry up delicious, nutritious dinners quickly and easily then freeze leftovers to keep you full up and financially viable.

For your bedroom:

Do bring a doorstop. This simple device can get you off to a good, sociable start with flatmates or fellow halls’ residents. Wedge your bedroom door open and it not only makes unloading easier but it also feels friendly and welcoming, encouraging people to introduce themselves. Bring a Bluetooth speaker for impromptu parties. Conversely, pack earplugs if you need to sleep when the party carries on into the small hours!

Door Wedge

Don’t forget your bedding; something bright and cheerful will bring some personality to a bare room. You can also use rugs, cushions, tapestries and other textiles to make a room feel cosier and more homely. Stick-on wallpaper can provide an instant makeover for your room, and a picture gallery (you can mount frames with adhesive double-sided pads if you’re not allowed to drill into the walls – check with your landlord or the uni’s accommodation team) brings a personal touch that reminds you of home and happy memories. You can add to this as you make more with your uni mates!

Plants can brighten up the place and bring other benefits too. Try trailing plants in hanging baskets, or easy-care succulents in colourful pots for a quick and lasting fix for your mental and physical health.

For you:

What you wear will be important. But consider the practicalities as much as any fashion statements! You’ll cover many miles across campus or between buildings so bring enough pairs of comfy, hard-wearing shoes to see you through the autumn/winter term. Pack plenty of layers so you can stay toasty in chilly lecture theatres and keep your cool in any online lectures you join from your halls or house. Bring a few crazy clothes for those freshers’ fancy dress parties. Just a superhero top will suffice if your full-on Superman/ Wonderwoman outfit is in the wash!

Speaking of washing, pack plenty of laundry liquid or capsules. Whether you’re using a campus launderette or a washing machine in your student accommodation, washing powders / liquids / capsules can be expensive to buy. Parents will probably be only too pleased to sub you in lieu of doing your washing every week!

Starting university next year?

UCAS applications for courses starting in Sept/Oct 2022 opened earlier this month. If you’re applying to Oxford, Cambridge or specific courses such as medicine, dentistry or veterinary science, your application deadline is 15th October. The deadline for most other courses and institutions is slightly later than some years – you have until 6pm on 26th January 2022, although many universities will continue to accept applications from international students after this date. Double check details with your university/ies of choice and use the UCAS search tool here to see which deadlines apply to you.

If you’re an international student looking to apply to UK universities for the 2022 intake, don’t forget we can help you navigate the application system and support you with your visa application too. Get in touch to find out more.

High-ranking universities 

On the subject of choosing courses and places of study, the Guardian newspaper carried an interesting feature this month, ranking universities by subject.

Indicators included student satisfaction (with course, teaching and feedback); student-to-staff ratio and career prospects (measured according to number of alumni in graduate-level jobs or further education 15 months after graduating). There’s also a value-added score that compares students’ degree results with their entry qualifications, as another means of measuring the quality of teaching.

If anatomy and physiology is your thing, or you’re an aspiring medic, nurse, dentist, vet, sports scientist or midwife, then Scotland seems a safe bet with Edinburgh and Aberdeen topping the ranks for medicine, Edinburgh and Glasgow in the top three for nursing and midwifery, as well as heading up the vet science and sports science rankings respectively; Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee featuring in the top five for dentistry (headed up by Plymouth), and St Andrew’s, Edinburgh and Glasgow all making the top four for anatomy and physiology.

Glasgow tops the table for film production and photography, as well as accounting and finance too, followed by LSE, Bolton and Aberystwyth, which also features fourth in the agriculture, forestry and food rankings, headed up by Queen’s, Belfast, also ranked highest in pharmacy and pharmacology.

St Andrew’s proves an all-rounder by pipping Oxbridge to the top spot for computer science and information systems, ranking first for classics and ancient history as well as history of art, and scoring well for media and film studies and anthropology too, beaten only by Warwick and Oxford respectively. The latter also heads up the rankings in subjects as diverse as art, business, management and marketing, chemistry, earth and marine sciences, materials and minerals engineering, English and creative writing, history, law, maths, modern languages and linguistics, philosophy, physics… pipped to the post by St Andrew’s in politics though. It’s an impressive range of subjects, almost matched for breadth and quantity by its fellow Oxbridge institution.

Cambridge leads the way in sociology, religious studies and theology, psychology, geography and environmental studies, forensic science and archaeology, engineering (general and also chemical), economics, building, town and country planning, biosciences, and architecture.

Other engineering degrees are shared out amongst other Russell Group unis, with Imperial College a notable top-three fixture across mechanical, electronic and electrical, and civil engineering along with Bath, Southampton and Bristol respectively.

UCL is top of the class for education, followed by Kingston and Bristol; Essex tops the bill (notably above two specialist conservatories) for drama and dance; Loughborough takes the lead for both design and crafts, and fashion and textiles, also featuring third for criminology behind Leeds and Durham, which is number one in music too, charting above more specialist music academies and Oxbridge.

For a more in-depth discussion about universities, courses and the best options for your family, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

The benefits of an independent education in the UK

In several previous blogs, we’ve talked about the many benefits of independent schools in the UK vs state schools. We’ve covered the heritage, the proven track record of centuries of success, world-famous alumni excelling in their fields and pioneering change in their disciplines and beyond. We’ve explored the connections you make and the networks you form that can continue to support and inspire you throughout your education and into your career. We’ve considered the all-round approach that ensures everyone finds their niche and fulfils their potential (the fact that more than a third of our Olympic medallists were independently educated highlights this point). We’ve discussed the high standard of teaching, alongside the outstanding resources, which have stood pupils in especially good stead during two years of academic upheaval. Our sentiments in last month’s blog are echoed by Julie Robinson, chief executive of the Independent Schools Council in her recent article where she says:

“Rather than lose the breadth of educational opportunity that independent schools are renowned for, many schools adapted the curriculum and developed new, bridging study modules, capitalising on speedy technological developments.” 

And on top of this, I think the pandemic highlighted how independent schools can and do take their responsibilities within society very seriously, fostering a similar mindset in their young charges. Many independent schools shared academic resources and stayed open for summer catch-ups; pupils were writing to residents in care homes and providing online concerts; schools were collecting for community charities and food banks, as well as providing thousands of beds to key workers as the pandemic reached its peak(s).

So if your measure of success goes beyond academic achievement alone, then embrace a UK independent education for your child. These schools have the knowledge, resources and expertise to teach the facts and skills our children need, but they also foster the mindset, attitude and emotional intelligence required to succeed and lead a fulfilled life in our modern word.

Contact us today to find out more.

Until next time…