Can’t decide what University to put as my ‘firm’

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hds
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Hi everyone,

I plan to do Biological Sciences at University. I now have the difficult decision of which Univeristy- between Durham and Lancaster to put as my choice, and I’d like any advice you’d be willing to give me. I’ll explain the situation with the pros of each.

Durham- the campus seemed extremely like ‘me’ - very nature(y), the town itself was gorgeous, and the college system was something I was really interested in. I did the summer school there in August, meaning I was able to get a reduced offer from AAA to ABB, which I was really happy with. This was originally going to be my definite firm offer, the University has a great reputation, and is high up on the league tables (I think 6th) however, it is around 20th for Biology. The wide known name of the University itself is something that really sticks with me in this decision, as I will obviously be looking for a career in Biology later and I know how good this would look on a CV- but is 20th for Biology really something I should take over Lancaster?

Lancaster- After visiting Durham I was more trying to fill spaces of offers to pick, and Lancaster being 4th for Biology and 7th on the League tables was a huge incentive to visit. I’ll be honest- I didn’t fall in love with the campus, but the labs in the Biology building are so advanced and the number of researchers and lecturers seem extremely knowledgeable on their subject areas- I would say (probably) more so than Durham. My initial thoughts returning from the open day were, ‘yeah I’ll apply, see what offer I get’. I later got an email to do an interview for an unconditional offer/possible scholarship, which I later did and passed, getting the offer. It seems like such a great offer, and I can’t imagine what I’d do if I applied for Durham as my firm then didn’t get the grades to get in when I had this opportunity.

(My predicted grades are AAA, though I doubt I will get those in the real thing, I’m hoping for AAB/ABB- in my mocks in the past I got AAB and AAC)
Please help me to make my decision, as you can tell I’m very indecisive. Thank you!
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Emily_B
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Personally, I'd say "firm" wherever feels better and go with gut instinct.
From what you've said, Durham appears to be the better option for you. The only thing swaying things with Lancaster appears to be seemingly better facilities. Please don't let better facilities and higher rankings sway you - if somewhere with lower rankings just feels better, please go for there. (When I was applying for uni, my Dad was 100% swayed by Lancaster's course. I hated the campus uni 20 mins on a bus from the rest of the world. Wasn't going anywhere near the place, regardless of excellent course, facilities, lecturers etc & high rankings.) In other words... do what's right by you, if that means Durham over Lancaster then please do it.
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hds
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(Original post by Emily_B)
Personally, I'd say "firm" wherever feels better and go with gut instinct.
From what you've said, Durham appears to be the better option for you. The only thing swaying things with Lancaster appears to be seemingly better facilities. Please don't let better facilities and higher rankings sway you - if somewhere with lower rankings just feels better, please go for there. (When I was applying for uni, my Dad was 100% swayed by Lancaster's course. I hated the campus uni 20 mins on a bus from the rest of the world. Wasn't going anywhere near the place, regardless of excellent course, facilities, lecturers etc & high rankings.) In other words... do what's right by you, if that means Durham over Lancaster then please do it.
Thank you for your reply/ advice! I know if it wasn’t for the great offer Lancaster gave me I would have definitely put Durham as my firm, so I think it says a lot in itself- and my parents were exactly the same!
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swanseajack1
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(Original post by hds)
Thank you for your reply/ advice! I know if it wasn’t for the great offer Lancaster gave me I would have definitely put Durham as my firm, so I think it says a lot in itself- and my parents were exactly the same!
Lancaster are one of the universities still giving out unconditional offers if you firm them. Universities offer these to get you to go to their university to ensure they fill their spaces. They are not for your benefit but the university's. Ignore unconditional offers and go wherever you prefer and it seems that is Durham. If you dont make your offer you can look elsewhere through clearing. You have a couple of months to make a decision so take your time and go on visit days.
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hds
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(Original post by swanseajack1)
Lancaster are one of the universities still giving out unconditional offers if you firm them. Universities offer these to get you to go to their university to ensure they fill their spaces. They are not for your benefit but the university's. Ignore unconditional offers and go wherever you prefer and it seems that is Durham. If you dont make your offer you can look elsewhere through clearing. You have a couple of months to make a decision so take your time and go on visit days.
Thanks for your reply! I had never thought of it benefitting the university, it certainly makes sense considering I know a few people who’ve also had a similar offer for other courses. I definitely see myself being happier at Durham, your advice was really helpful.
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swanseajack1
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Birmingham university started these unconditionals in about 2014 or 2015 and others have since followed. Prior to that time everybody had set numbers they could take and couldnt exceed it. As part of Gove's efforts to turn higher education into a free market he removed the cap and some universities started expanding taking on more students. This led to others not being able to recruit enough students. Also the birth rate has been dropping and less 18 year olds were available to enter higher education. This is why people get offered unconditionals if firmed. They are not for the benefit of the student but try to make it look that way. Go wherever you will be happiest and dont take too much notice of subject rankings as they are very unreliable. Durham is ranked 6th for Biology in Cug Lancaster 11th. Lancaster is 4th Durham 24 with the Guardian
Last edited by swanseajack1; 1 month ago
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harrysbar
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(Original post by hds)
Hi everyone,

I plan to do Biological Sciences at University. I now have the difficult decision of which Univeristy- between Durham and Lancaster to put as my choice, and I’d like any advice you’d be willing to give me. I’ll explain the situation with the pros of each.

Durham- the campus seemed extremely like ‘me’ - very nature(y), the town itself was gorgeous, and the college system was something I was really interested in. I did the summer school there in August, meaning I was able to get a reduced offer from AAA to ABB, which I was really happy with. This was originally going to be my definite firm offer, the University has a great reputation, and is high up on the league tables (I think 6th) however, it is around 20th for Biology. The wide known name of the University itself is something that really sticks with me in this decision, as I will obviously be looking for a career in Biology later and I know how good this would look on a CV- but is 20th for Biology really something I should take over Lancaster?

Lancaster- After visiting Durham I was more trying to fill spaces of offers to pick, and Lancaster being 4th for Biology and 7th on the League tables was a huge incentive to visit. I’ll be honest- I didn’t fall in love with the campus, but the labs in the Biology building are so advanced and the number of researchers and lecturers seem extremely knowledgeable on their subject areas- I would say (probably) more so than Durham. My initial thoughts returning from the open day were, ‘yeah I’ll apply, see what offer I get’. I later got an email to do an interview for an unconditional offer/possible scholarship, which I later did and passed, getting the offer. It seems like such a great offer, and I can’t imagine what I’d do if I applied for Durham as my firm then didn’t get the grades to get in when I had this opportunity.

(My predicted grades are AAA, though I doubt I will get those in the real thing, I’m hoping for AAB/ABB- in my mocks in the past I got AAB and AAC)
Please help me to make my decision, as you can tell I’m very indecisive. Thank you!
I like Lancaster (my daughter went there) but would advise Firming Durham and Insuring Lancaster. If you don't get the grades that Durham want (if you got BBB or a C in one subject, for example) Lancaster are likely to show more flexibility on results day than Durham, making them an excellent Insurance choice.
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hds
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(Original post by swanseajack1)
Birmingham university started these unconditionals in about 2014 or 2015 and others have since followed. Prior to that time everybody had set numbers they could take and couldnt exceed it. As part of Gove's efforts to turn higher education into a free market he removed the cap and some universities started expanding taking on more students. This led to others not being able to recruit enough students. Also the birth rate has been dropping and less 18 year olds were available to enter higher education. This is why people get offered unconditionals if firmed. They are not for the benefit of the student but try to make it look that way. Go wherever you will be happiest and dont take too much notice of subject rankings as they are very unreliable. Durham is ranked 6th for Biology in Cug Lancaster 11th. Lancaster is 4th Durham 24 with the Guardian
Hi, thank you for the great advice! I had only previously thought about it was beneficial for me, not the university. Durham is a great University and it definitely feels a lot more like I’d fit in there.
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hds
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(Original post by harrysbar)
I like Lancaster (my daughter went there) but would advise Firming Durham and Insuring Lancaster. If you don't get the grades that Durham want (if you got BBB or a C in one subject, for example) Lancaster are likely to show more flexibility on results day than Durham, making them an excellent Insurance choice.
Thanks for your reply, I had never previously thought of that as I applied for an abroad scheme with Lancaster meaning the grades were AAA. If need be, I think I’ll go through clearing and see where I end up, as I don’t want to get a degree at a lower University paying the same amount.
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swanseajack1
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(Original post by hds)
Thanks for your reply, I had never previously thought of that as I applied for an abroad scheme with Lancaster meaning the grades were AAA. If need be, I think I’ll go through clearing and see where I end up, as I don’t want to get a degree at a lower University paying the same amount.
Just be aware the very top universities like Oxbridge, Durham. UCL, LSE, Imperial are not likely to be in clearing.
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Lancaster Student Ambassador
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(Original post by hds)
Hi everyone,

I plan to do Biological Sciences at University. I now have the difficult decision of which Univeristy- between Durham and Lancaster to put as my choice, and I’d like any advice you’d be willing to give me. I’ll explain the situation with the pros of each.

Durham- the campus seemed extremely like ‘me’ - very nature(y), the town itself was gorgeous, and the college system was something I was really interested in. I did the summer school there in August, meaning I was able to get a reduced offer from AAA to ABB, which I was really happy with. This was originally going to be my definite firm offer, the University has a great reputation, and is high up on the league tables (I think 6th) however, it is around 20th for Biology. The wide known name of the University itself is something that really sticks with me in this decision, as I will obviously be looking for a career in Biology later and I know how good this would look on a CV- but is 20th for Biology really something I should take over Lancaster?

Lancaster- After visiting Durham I was more trying to fill spaces of offers to pick, and Lancaster being 4th for Biology and 7th on the League tables was a huge incentive to visit. I’ll be honest- I didn’t fall in love with the campus, but the labs in the Biology building are so advanced and the number of researchers and lecturers seem extremely knowledgeable on their subject areas- I would say (probably) more so than Durham. My initial thoughts returning from the open day were, ‘yeah I’ll apply, see what offer I get’. I later got an email to do an interview for an unconditional offer/possible scholarship, which I later did and passed, getting the offer. It seems like such a great offer, and I can’t imagine what I’d do if I applied for Durham as my firm then didn’t get the grades to get in when I had this opportunity.

(My predicted grades are AAA, though I doubt I will get those in the real thing, I’m hoping for AAB/ABB- in my mocks in the past I got AAB and AAC)
Please help me to make my decision, as you can tell I’m very indecisive. Thank you!
Hello,

I'm currently studying Biological Sciences with Biomedicine at Lancaster so I'm happy to answer any questions you might have.

I'm happy to answer any specific questions you have about the modules and teaching here as well as about the student life.

One thing that I think is great about our Biology course is that you're able to modules in both the ecology, zoology, conservation side of things as well as the biomedical and biochemical side of things. This means you can have a wide breadth of knowledge, but the flexibility of the course means you can tailor the course to your own interest. For example, I found out early on that my main interests lie in biochemistry, microbiology, genetics and cell biology as oppose to the ecology aspects.

We have a college system here at Lancaster as well which acts as a hub when you first get here. The city is quite old and it's position means it's near the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales and the sea (Morecambe Bay), and hiking and cycling in the surrounding countryside is very popular. We are a campus university which I think suits a lot of students well as it's easy to settle in as everything you need is on campus and it's easy to navigate, but when most people move into town in 2nd and 3rd year we get to commute (about 15 minute bus journey to and from town) so we can 'switch off' from uni and get to appreciate the benefits of living in town.

I also noticed that you mentioned doing a year abroad, I know a couple of people who did this and loved it! You'll be able to potentially switch on/off this here.

Ultimately though it's up to you and just pick whichever feels best! Lancaster had places in clearing for Biology last year but it does change every year and we can't say for certain there will be this year.

Hope this helps you to make your decision and let me know if you need anymore info.

Charlotte
3rd year Biological Sciences with Biomedicine
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hds
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(Original post by Lancaster Student Ambassador)
Hello,

I'm currently studying Biological Sciences with Biomedicine at Lancaster so I'm happy to answer any questions you might have.

I'm happy to answer any specific questions you have about the modules and teaching here as well as about the student life.

One thing that I think is great about our Biology course is that you're able to modules in both the ecology, zoology, conservation side of things as well as the biomedical and biochemical side of things. This means you can have a wide breadth of knowledge, but the flexibility of the course means you can tailor the course to your own interest. For example, I found out early on that my main interests lie in biochemistry, microbiology, genetics and cell biology as oppose to the ecology aspects.

We have a college system here at Lancaster as well which acts as a hub when you first get here. The city is quite old and it's position means it's near the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales and the sea (Morecambe Bay), and hiking and cycling in the surrounding countryside is very popular. We are a campus university which I think suits a lot of students well as it's easy to settle in as everything you need is on campus and it's easy to navigate, but when most people move into town in 2nd and 3rd year we get to commute (about 15 minute bus journey to and from town) so we can 'switch off' from uni and get to appreciate the benefits of living in town.

I also noticed that you mentioned doing a year abroad, I know a couple of people who did this and loved it! You'll be able to potentially switch on/off this here.

Ultimately though it's up to you and just pick whichever feels best! Lancaster had places in clearing for Biology last year but it does change every year and we can't say for certain there will be this year.

Hope this helps you to make your decision and let me know if you need anymore info.

Charlotte
3rd year Biological Sciences with Biomedicine
Hi, thanks for your reply! The flexibility of the course is definitely something that is beneficial for me as I’m in a similar position where I’m not 100% sure about what modules to do, so hopefully doing first year will help me to decide this. Lancaster is a great University so it will definitely be a tough decision to make!
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Lancaster Student Ambassador
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(Original post by hds)
Hi, thanks for your reply! The flexibility of the course is definitely something that is beneficial for me as I’m in a similar position where I’m not 100% sure about what modules to do, so hopefully doing first year will help me to decide this. Lancaster is a great University so it will definitely be a tough decision to make!
I also applied to Durham but I decided on Lancaster because I preferred the course, going to a campus university and I felt like a traditional university wasn't for me!
I'm really happy with my choice now but I was in the same position too! It took my ages to decide!
Charlotte
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