How do you choose your university to go toWatch
For me the main deciding factor was "what do I actually want to learn more about". It had to be physics; well, I had been dead-set on doing aerospace engineering for 6 months back in year 12 but changed my mind. So 3 of my uni choices had actually been ones I picked with aerospace engineering in mind... but they were good for physics too. The remaining two I just tacked on because they seemed pretty good. I visited all of them and eventually decided which ones I'd firm, which one I'd have as my insurance and which ones I'd decline.
I didn't really pay attention to location, except that like you I didn't want to go too far - just to save hassle when going to and from. Most distant one was probably 2 hours away.
League tables are useful in just giving you an idea of which unis offer your subject and which are decent at teaching it (don't pay too much attention to rank, within reason). You'd just browse through, see if there are any that interest you as locations. But if you can't think of anything you'd want to learn about for 3-4 years and maybe use in a career, don't take out a hefty loan for it.
1) which universities actually do your course
2) different universities’ overall reputations
Personally, I knew the one university (which I firmed) that I wanted to go to because my sister actually goes there for a different course. For my other 4 choices, I honestly based them on location and how they compare to my predictions. It’s quite ‘pointless’ to say you want to go to Uni X if they require A*AA and you’re predicted BBB for example.
I think the general rule is to apply to one or two ‘risky’ options, one or two safe options, and one or two options that aren’t necessarily ‘safe’ but ‘realistic’.