Sponsored feature, words by Russ Thorne
Technically, a 'modern' university is one that gained university status after 1992, when many former polytechnics relaunched themselves as unis. But when you're looking into where to spend three or four of the most important years of your life, it's not about how long they've had the name: it's about what they can offer you.

To give you some insight into the opportunities a modern uni can provide, we got together with the team at Coventry University. It was voted 'Modern University of the Year' in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2014, so they can give you the view from the top...

1 - Great facilities

One thing a modern university might offer is newer facilities and top-of-the-line equipment. According to third year journalism and media student, Alex Maidment, that's one of things he loves about being at Coventry and it made a good impression on him from the word go.

“I decided to study here after attending an interview day and meeting current students and staff who were extremely enthusiastic about the course and the University,” he says. “I was very impressed by the facilities across the University such as the Library and The Hub and also my course-specific facilities: radio studios, a television studio and the Media Loan Shop, which is where we can get all of our equipment from.”

2 - A varied student experience

A modern university can make your time as a student lively both in and out of the classroom. As a city centre uni Coventry has a lot to offer socially according to Ian Dunn, the university's Pro Vice Chancellor (Student Empowerment), as well as keeping things fresh on the study side. “We make all our courses intellectually rigorous, stimulating and challenging,” he says, “but also linked to professions, so we're helping students develop their career aspirations.”

Alex has had a great time at work and play, especially during his second year. “The work I did allowed me to excel myself through challenging but exciting projects and tasks,” he says. “Of course, I have also loved living the student life and having a great time with friends, going out and being fully independent!”

3 – Preparation for work

Alas, the university experience has to end at some point. Modern universities like Coventry keep this in mind throughout your time with them and will do their best to help you prepare for the world of work. For example, almost all Coventry students take part in the university's Add+vantage scheme, which focuses on enhancing their employability.

“Our IEMS scheme also provides opportunities for our students to study or secure work placements and internships abroad,” adds Ian. “These schemes help prepare our students for work by giving them extra skills.” The uni also offers careers support both at faculty level and centrally, to help get students into good graduate jobs once they leave.

4 - Flexible, contemporary courses

As they tend to be newer institutions you might find that modern universities are a little more limber and agile when it comes to creating the courses students need. “It’s about being an entrepreneurial university,” says Ian, “which means we're more able to adapt and flex.”

At Coventry, part of that flexibility comes from working closely with industry. The university partners with organisations of all shapes and sizes, so students learn from the experiences of those in the commercial, academic, industrial and business worlds. Combining those different perspectives with the undergraduate courses means that Coventry students get a much wider point of view, says Ian. “They see their subject in its national and international context.”

5 – A chance to get involved

With a modern university you might not just benefit from a flexible approach – you might be able to help shape that approach. According to Ian, Coventry University's focus is on quality teaching and learning opportunities, and that means getting students' input. “We pride ourselves on being good student partners,” he says. “We involve students in the design and development of courses and we respond quickly when things don’t quite go to plan.”

So there's a lot more to modern universities than just their youth. They don't just offer a different name: whether it's the chance to shape the courses, use state of the art equipment or benefit from a fresh approach to learning, they can offer you a lot of opportunities, too.

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Discover more opportunities at Coventry University