American Parent
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Our son wants to study political science and he's starting to look at pursuing an undergraduate degree in the United Kingdom. He's currently focused on programs offered by King's College London, LSE, Oxford, and St. Andrews. I did some research and found that St. Andrews has the highest entry standards, followed by Oxford, King's College London, and LSE.

I'm hoping someone with firsthand (or even secondhand) experience with these programs can answer a few questions: 1) Is the caliber of student at St. Andrews noticeably higher than at the other universities? 2) Do competitive applicants applying to St. Andrews consider some of the other programs safety options, or are they all viewed as highly competitive? 3) Outside these four programs, which ones do strong applicants typically consider to be good safety options in the United Kingdom?
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lbenson88
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Oxford is no one’s safety option 😂
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(Original post by lbenson88)
Oxford is no one’s safety option 😂
I figure. How about the other two?
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lbenson88
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In all seriousness Oxford is probably the highest calibre in that list but they’re all top tier.

Oxford is probably top then the rest I’d group together as top tier uni’s of the good uni but also posh uni variety.
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(Original post by lbenson88)
In all seriousness Oxford is probably the highest calibre in that list but they’re all top tier.

Oxford is probably top then the rest I’d group together as top tier uni’s of the good uni but also posh uni variety.
Are you talking about the caliber of the programs or the students? St. Andrews has the strongest students.
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lbenson88
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Kings and st Andrew’s defo have the posh vibe reputation, people with very rich parents who can’t get their kids into Oxford or Cambridge will go to certain university’s.
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lbenson88
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(Original post by American Parent)
Are you talking about the caliber of the programs or the students? St. Andrews has the strongest students.
They’re not necessarily the strongest students. They’re students with the highest grades. Weirdly that’s not the same thing. (Obviously it should be but it isn’t)

A lot of very wealthy kids go to schools where they have so much extra tuition they’re guaranteed super higher grades.

Which is why a lot of uni’s have started looking at other things.

Also % of applications getting in is very skewed if you’re looking at that. Lots of the small uni’s look super selective compared to the larger uni’s.
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(Original post by lbenson88)
Kings and st Andrew’s defo have the posh vibe reputation, people with very rich parents who can’t get their kids into Oxford or Cambridge will go to certain university’s.
I think we just posted past each other. In the students, it seems that students at St. Andrews have stronger credentials than those at Oxford, albeit not by much.
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Possibly this
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(Original post by American Parent)
Are you talking about the caliber of the programs or the students? St. Andrews has the strongest students.
It's not quite that simple, the makeup of the systems used to define the abilities of students is not completely synced up across the many nations from which the students come. A typical student could get more UCAS points doing IB or Scottish Highers/Advanced Highers than those who do the traditional British A-levels. The metric you're talking about looks at UCAS points only and for the reason I've shown above is highly limited and it should not be viewed as the be-all and end-all.
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(Original post by Possibly this)
It's not quite that simple, the makeup of the systems used to define the abilities of students is not completely synced up across the many nations from which the students come. A typical student could get more UCAS points doing IB or Scottish Highers/Advanced Highers than those who do the traditional British A-levels. The metric you're talking about looks at UCAS points only and for the reason I've shown above is highly limited and it should not be viewed as the be-all and end-all.
Thanks. So would it be fair to say that the students at St. Andrews and Oxford are the same caliber, which is significantly higher than those at King's College London and LSE? I noticed that there's a significant gap between the entry standards for St. Andrews/Oxford and King's College London/LSE.
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lbenson88
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Yeah also st Andrew’s has different admissions vs the English uni’s as well. Because Scottish and EU students get treated differently than English students at Scottish university’s.

The whole Scottish school system is different to England’s and it makes comparisons off.
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lbenson88
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(Original post by Possibly this)
It's not quite that simple, the makeup of the systems used to define the abilities of students is not completely synced up across the many nations from which the students come. A typical student could get more UCAS points doing IB or Scottish Highers/Advanced Highers than those who do the traditional British A-levels. The metric you're talking about looks at UCAS points only and for the reason I've shown above is highly limited and it should not be viewed as the be-all and end-all.
This. 👍
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(Original post by lbenson88)
Yeah also st Andrew’s has different admissions vs the English uni’s as well. Because Scottish and EU students get treated differently than English students at Scottish university’s.

The whole Scottish school system is different to England’s and it makes comparisons off.
So why to university rankings use admission standards as a criterion?
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As for alternative courses, I would suggest places like Bath, UCL, Warwick and Durham. They're all very strong universities, many of them as strong as some of the ones you mentioned that you're already considering. I'm applying to Politics and Politics and Economics courses this year and I've applied to Cambridge, St Andrews, Bath, Warwick and I'm deciding between King's College London and Nottingham for my final choice, any of these universities I'd be very happy to be accepted to as they have a very strong reputation in Politics and/or Economics. So I'd just say to your son that if you're talking about UK universities, keep your options more open because the top players are all on a relatively level playing field, so really it's not simply about the best university, it's about the best university for him.

If your son wants any help from me in terms of potential courses he'd be interested, he can message me via direct messaging on here as I've been researching competitive courses in this subject for over a year now and I'd be happy to help in anyway I can in helping him find the best university for him because I know there's a lot to consider.
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(Original post by American Parent)
So why to university rankings use admission standards as a criterion?
University league tables are famously quite dubious, this goes for both national and international tables.
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(Original post by Possibly this)
As for alternative courses, I would suggest places like Bath, UCL, Warwick and Durham. They're all very strong universities, many of them as strong as some of the ones you mentioned that you're already considering. I'm applying to Politics and Politics and Economics courses this year and I've applied to Cambridge, St Andrews, Bath, Warwick and I'm deciding between King's College London and Nottingham for my final choice, any of these universities I'd be very happy to be accepted to as they have a very strong reputation in Politics and/or Economics. So I'd just say to your son that if you're talking about UK universities, keep your options more open because the top players are all on a relatively level playing field, so really it's not simply about the best university, it's about the best university for him.

If your son wants any help from me in terms of potential courses he'd be interested, he can message me via direct messaging on here as I've been researching competitive courses in this subject for over a year now and I'd be happy to help in anyway I can in helping him find the best university for him because I know there's a lot to consider.
Thanks!
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lbenson88
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(Original post by American Parent)
I think we just posted past each other. In the students, it seems that students at St. Andrews have stronger credentials than those at Oxford, albeit not by much.
St Andrew’s is a prestigious Scottish uni, but a normal English student probably wouldn’t apply unless the course is specific to what they’re looking for, or they’re posh.

If you were a super super smart English student and you know you can go anywhere. You’re unlikely to pick St Andrew’s over Oxford or Cambridge, (unless you have a very specific reason)

But between the two, for generic English students- Oxford is higher

(For a Scottish student it’s completely different, St. Andrews is free tuition, Oxford is the full fees...)
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(Original post by lbenson88)
St Andrew’s is a prestigious Scottish uni, but a normal English student probably wouldn’t apply unless the course is specific to what they’re looking for, or they’re posh.

If you were a super super English smart student and you know you can go anywhere. You’re unlikely to pick St Andrew’s over Oxford or Cambridge, (unless you have a very specific reason)

But between the two, for generic English students- Oxford is higher

(For a Scottish student it’s completely different, St. Andrews is free tuition, Oxford is the full fees...)
That's interesting. I would assume there are plenty of posh, which I read as "preppy," people at all of these universities. I read that St. Andrews has far more English students than Scottish students. Are these English students more posh than those at the other universities?
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(Original post by American Parent)
That's interesting. I would assume there are plenty of posh, which I read as "preppy," people at all of these universities. I read that St. Andrews has far more English students than Scottish students. Are these English students more posh than those at the other universities?
You’re right that in these uni’s there are a fair few ‘preppy’ students in all of them. But some are more diverse than others. I’d consider LSE as probably more diverse than Warwick for example-the stats may prove me wrong on that, but given the reputation of the uni’s I’d be comfortable guessing it as a generalisation. LSE Is in a metropolitan city and gets loads of international students, Warwick not so much. Both great uni’s, but the student mix is kinda different.

Also given the difference in population size I would assume there are heavily more Scots than English students - relative to populations. Given there are 10 times more people living in England than Scotland. There will be (roughly) 10 times more English students applying to uni’s every year. I doubt there is a 10:1 ratio of English to Scottish students getting into St. Andrews every year.

(Also feel I need to clarify it’s not like any of these are bad uni’s, they’re all amazing. It’s the differences between great that we’re taking about here!) ie what makes the uni’s slightly different to each other
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(Original post by American Parent)
Our son wants to study political science and he's starting to look at pursuing an undergraduate degree in the United Kingdom. He's currently focused on programs offered by King's College London, LSE, Oxford, and St. Andrews. I did some research and found that St. Andrews has the highest entry standards, followed by Oxford, King's College London, and LSE.

I'm hoping someone with firsthand (or even secondhand) experience with these programs can answer a few questions: 1) Is the caliber of student at St. Andrews noticeably higher than at the other universities? 2) Do competitive applicants applying to St. Andrews consider some of the other programs safety options, or are they all viewed as highly competitive? 3) Outside these four programs, which ones do strong applicants typically consider to be good safety options in the United Kingdom?
I graduated from St Andrews, i will answer this when i have some time in the evening!
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