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    Hi guys

    I'm an international student (greetings from Cyprus!) about to send off my last 4 portfolio requirements to my chosen universities. I've applied to University of Edinburgh, Glasgow School of Art, Falmouth University, Loughborough University and University of Southampton.

    Before anyone asks why London wasn't in any of my options - I wanted to spare myself from having to sell my kidney to pay rent and all that. Moving on:

    The Falmouth application is finished since I had an interview there in December which got me a conditional offer which, given that it's a design course, isn't difficult at all to achieve (260 tariff points). I'm currently about to finish the modified portfolio for the other four, but I find myself at a loss on deciding on a definite option in terms of studying.

    Glasgow and Edinburgh both have the reputation, but there's no denying Edinburgh has the upper hand. Maybe I haven't researched enough, but it looks like GSA doesn't have an advantage over the others other than from just name/reputation alone. It has the lowest employment rates of all my choices, as well as satisfaction. Edinburgh however is ranked quite highly for design courses and I've heard consistently stellar things about both the university and the city itself. One of my teachers told me to not even think about it - if I have a chance at Edinburgh, I should be there in a heartbeat. Scotland's monetary relief is also appreciated. What worries me about Edinburgh is that it doesn't offer a placement year, something I think of as important since today you need all the experience you can get to land a job, especially in the design field. On the other hand, I've been told I can pursue placement on my own over the summer without doing so through the university itself, which is a redeeming factor. Aside from all this though, the ~9% acceptance rate isn't something to scoff at.

    Loughborough on the other hand guarantees a placement year, and along with that it is consistently ranked highly in terms of student satisfaction (Uni of the Year and #1 in student satisfaction is a pretty attractive achievement). It's also a joint degree - Graphic Design and Illustration - so I'll have more opportunity to try more things related to design/the arts. My friend also visited Loughborough last month and had only positives to say. However, does its strong sports reputation damage getting an arts degree from there? If I'll be living and working outside of the UK post graduation, will its lack of international reputation play a role in employment?

    I've also heard good things about Southampton - my art teacher heard positive feedback from one of her ex students who studied there. The degree there is also Graphic Arts, so it won't be as limiting as other places would. The campus and city both look great, and ERASMUS also means a chance to study abroad.As of now I'm considering it as a safe choice, but I'll see how the situation turns out when I get all of my offers.

    Falmouth looked great, although the issue of transportation is daunting (flying to London for 5 hours and then catching a train for another 6. There's also the option of a connecting flight to Newquay-London shaving off 4 hours, but the costs start stacking up). However, that's the catch you get for a campus and city as amazing as it was. I also loved their course structure - weekly guest speakers, holistic design education, starting on programmes from square one, studio experience in London or Amsterdam in Year 2. Checking the Guardian rankings, it's also ranked the highest in terms of employment from all my applications (82%; above Edinburgh's 77%).

    All in all I'd love some insight from anyone that has more experience as far as these universities are concerned. Lougborough and Edinburgh look like top-choice contenders, but I want more opinions before I start planning.

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