Would you like to study at the university of the year?
If you’re choosing your university right now you probably hope to a go to a pretty decent one. And when a university is given the title University of the Year there’s a good chance that that university has a lot to offer you.
Coventry University was awarded the prestigious title at the 2015 Times Higher Education Awards last November with John Gill, editor of Times Higher Education, saying: “The judges were impressed with Coventry’s achievements across a range of activities and, in particular, by its novel approach to improving access.
“We’re always looking for pioneers who make bold attempts to tackle the issues facing higher education locally, regionally and nationally, and Coventry is to be congratulated for doing it so successfully.”
So what does make a university so successful and desirable to students? Ian Dunn, Deputy VC Student Experience from Coventry University, gives his thoughts on what you need to look out for.
Facilities to give you a first-class education
If you want to get the best out of your degree then you’ll want the best facilities so you can study with the latest books and equipment. Coventry University recently had the Lanchester library refurbished and a new Science and Health building is due to be opened in 2017.
The University also features plenty of facilities students can make the most of, including TheHub, which features individual and group study spaces, a food court and coffee shop, a convenience store and student support areas. It’s all the everyday spots a student needs in one place.
Ian Dunn says: “The environment you study in is almost as important as the kind of education you receive, which is why it is so important to pick a university with excellent facilities. You’re going to have to do exam revision at some point whether you want to or not – you might as well do it somewhere you feel right at home and in first-rate facilities!”
A country-wide campus to create greater access
When you think about going to university you tend to think of its campus being in one city or maybe just one county. You probably don’t consider that some universities spread their reach far and wide to help encourage people from all backgrounds into higher education.
Coventry has multiple campus locations in Coventry, London and Scarborough, which cater for different people, with different needs.
“At Coventry we like to be as inclusive as possible so no matter where a person may be in life, there are still options for them to make a positive change,” says Ian. “When you’re looking for your university check out whether it has multiple campuses and what its links are like with other educational establishments around the country.”
Strong degrees that lead to real jobs
Gaining knowledge is an integral part of studying for a degree but you need to be able to apply that knowledge in the real world if you want to land a job in your chosen field. Your university course should be structured in such a way that it offers you experience and skills which will translate well into the workplace, whether that be through placements or practical work. When you graduate you want to be ready for the first step of a great career.
Ian says: “Our courses are structured to meet this goal through their flexibility and professionalism. Many are offered as full-time or part-time, as well as sandwich courses that implement an extra year’s study within a placement setting.
“Students can also enjoy the benefit of our corporate links within your chosen industry and networking opportunities through guest lectures and work experience placements.”
A university with strong international links is always going to be a good bet because it hugely increases the opportunities for students to travel and learn abroad. It also brings with it diversity as international students come to the UK to study.
Internationalisation increases networking opportunities which in turn leads to a better understanding of how the world is changing business, and allows students to pursue their own personal development.
Work within the local area
A university with strong links to the community is also important and students can often get involved in community projects through their Students’ Union and volunteering service. Not only does it help integrate the university with the community and promote understanding, it is also a fantastic opportunity for students to gain valuable volunteering experience that can look great on their CV.
Ian says: “A university can’t exist in a bubble and needs to link to the local area to survive and make an active contribution to the community. It breeds understanding with people living in a university city and it presents a wonderful opportunity for students to gain extra curricular experience.”