Is St Andrews overrated? Is it better to do an masters at a Russell Group instead?

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Anonymous #1
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St Andrews always seems to rank highly in domestic rankings, but in international rankings it always seems to miss the top ten. Obviously St Andrews isn’t a Russell Group university so its “research reputation” isn’t as highly regarded at places like Edinburgh, UCL, Imperial etc.

So I’m wondering whether people actually consider St Andrews to be a “top” UK university? Is there actually a significant gap in research quality and academic standards between St Andrews and highly ranked Russell Group universities like Imperial/Warwick/Edinburgh/UCL?

And if you are a current or former St Andrews student (in particular if you are an masters student), do you feel like you have been at a disadvantage when competing for employment/PhD scholarships at top institutions and companies because you didn’t come from a university with as strong a research culture and reputation as UCL/Imperial for example?
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A Rolling Stone
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(Original post by Anonymous)
St Andrews always seems to rank highly in domestic rankings, but in international rankings it always seems to miss the top ten. Obviously St Andrews isn’t a Russell Group university so its “research reputation” isn’t as highly regarded at places like Edinburgh, UCL, Imperial etc.

So I’m wondering whether people actually consider St Andrews to be a “top” UK university? Is there actually a significant gap in research quality and academic standards between St Andrews and highly ranked Russell Group universities like Imperial/Warwick/Edinburgh/UCL?

And if you are a current or former St Andrews student (in particular if you are an masters student), do you feel like you have been at a disadvantage when competing for employment/PhD scholarships at top institutions and companies because you didn’t come from a university with as strong a research culture and reputation as UCL/Imperial for example?
i made the terrible error of thinking i wouldn't need to bother with work experience with a science degree (biology lmao) from a top uni. needless to say, all of my job interviews went something like this "ooh! st andrews, very nice. straight A*s as well"...*10 days later*..."you didn't have as much work experience as the other applicants"

that said, once i got a lucky break i am now in my ideal career and i will always feel fortunate to have gone to uni in such an idyllic part of the world, and that i know is a very selective uni. research matters mainly for postgrad
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Anonymous #1
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(Original post by A Rolling Stone)
i made the terrible error of thinking i wouldn't need to bother with work experience with a science degree (biology lmao) from a top uni. needless to say, all of my job interviews went something like this "ooh! st andrews, very nice. straight A*s as well"...*10 days later*..."you didn't have as much work experience as the other applicants"

that said, once i got a lucky break i am now in my ideal career and i will always feel fortunate to have gone to uni in such an idyllic part of the world, and that i know is a very selective uni. research matters mainly for postgrad
Thank you very much for that! So you got the impression that employers were more concerned about work experience rather than the uni you went to? Also, say my ambition was actually to do a PhD, then do you think it would be better to do a masters at a university like UCL/Imperial instead of St Andrews because of their research status (I have offers from both)?
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A Rolling Stone
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(Original post by Anonymous)
Thank you very much for that! So you got the impression that employers were more concerned about work experience rather than the uni you went to? Also, say my ambition was actually to do a PhD, then do you think it would be better to do a masters at a university like UCL/Imperial instead of St Andrews because of their research status (I have offers from both)?
apart from corporate law, 1000000%

they want someone who will be a people-person (good with clients), good with money, learn new things, experience... uni itself is just a d*ick measuring contest for the most part, but there is an element of bragging rights to go to a uni that so many others got rejected from

i always say that you should go to an undergrad-focused uni for your bachelors degree and a research powerhouse for your postgrad, so yes. but what's most important for your masters is that your supervisor is an expert in his/her field that aligns with your interests and ambitions
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Anonymous #2
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(Original post by A Rolling Stone)

i always say that you should go to an undergrad-focused uni for your bachelors degree and a research powerhouse for your postgrad, so yes. but what's most important for your masters is that your supervisor is an expert in his/her field that aligns with your interests and ambitions
I would actually disagree with this. It really depends on what your field is, and who you work with. Some of the biggest names in my field are not at big name universities, and this is increasingly true as jobs dry up and talented young researches have to go wherever they can. "Research reputation" is a bit dubious: research in which field? A university might give lots of their funding money to one department, and very little to another.

If you're looking to continue to PhD and beyond, I would choose a programme based on the reputation of the individual department/programme/supervisor, the programme's relevance to your goals (i.e. if you're interested in a very specific facet of chemical engineering or something, find the place that does that the best).

At the same time, working with the biggest names in a field can be detrimental to your development as a researcher, too. Sure, it would look great to have someone's name on your CV as having been your supervisor, but if they're so busy they're not actually supervising you in any way, you're not getting the training you're going to need to survive. Having a good working relationship with a supervisor is also a big thing to think about when choosing where to study.
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A Rolling Stone
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(Original post by Anonymous)
I would actually disagree with this. It really depends on what your field is, and who you work with. Some of the biggest names in my field are not at big name universities, and this is increasingly true as jobs dry up and talented young researches have to go wherever they can. "Research reputation" is a bit dubious: research in which field? A university might give lots of their funding money to one department, and very little to another.

If you're looking to continue to PhD and beyond, I would choose a programme based on the reputation of the individual department/programme/supervisor, the programme's relevance to your goals (i.e. if you're interested in a very specific facet of chemical engineering or something, find the place that does that the best).

At the same time, working with the biggest names in a field can be detrimental to your development as a researcher, too. Sure, it would look great to have someone's name on your CV as having been your supervisor, but if they're so busy they're not actually supervising you in any way, you're not getting the training you're going to need to survive. Having a good working relationship with a supervisor is also a big thing to think about when choosing where to study.
i'm surprised you started with saying you disagree with me because i agree with every word of your post, perhaps i was just too lazy to express myself properly ha
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Anonymous #2
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(Original post by A Rolling Stone)
i'm surprised you started with saying you disagree with me because i agree with every word of your post, perhaps i was just too lazy to express myself properly ha
My apologies, I think I just misinterpreted you!
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Anonymous #3
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It's a uni for posh, well-connected people. Great for "networking"
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