Is it worth going to a non top university?

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pinkdoughnut11
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#1
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The more I think about university, the more it puts me off. Unless you go to a prestigious university (a top russel group), it feels like the private benefit of going is significantly reduced. The chances of getting top-paying roles are much slimmer, so you either have to work much harder, or find alternate routes to wealth, such as a business. The latter option is achievable without a degree of any kind, and of course involves hard work, but has a much greater reward ceiling too.

Thoughts?
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Mwhite900
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(Original post by pinkdoughnut11)
The more I think about university, the more it puts me off. Unless you go to a prestigious university (a top russel group), it feels like the private benefit of going is significantly reduced. The chances of getting top-paying roles are much slimmer, so you either have to work much harder, or find alternate routes to wealth, such as a business. The latter option is achievable without a degree of any kind, and of course involves hard work, but has a much greater reward ceiling too.

Thoughts?
Honestly I kind of feel the same way too about Russel groups. I do generally have a non Russel group option uni but it took months for me to find one non Russel group university that I would be happy going to if I didn’t get into my top choice. Depending on what degree you are studying the university doesn’t necessarily matter because if it’s something useful and employable you will find a good job regardless as long as you put in the effort to do some useful work experience. You should honestly consider the reason why you want to go to uni in the first place like is it the studying, social life or just the city. But I do kinda agree with the post, going to a non Russel group kinda freaks me out as it just feels like I would have failed in a way even though the non Russel group entry requirements are basically the same
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Sinnoh
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#3
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#3
If you're thinking of university as a route to a high-paying career then yes you're probably setting yourself up for disappointment in most cases.
What I personally think should matter is, is there a thing that you're so interested in, you genuinely want to study it full-time for 3-4 years? I suspect that for a lot of people currently doing degrees, this is not the case.
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Lysistrata
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Please, don't be taken in by the Russell Group mythology. They are a self-selecting group of unis who have stitched up the market, much like a cartel. There are many excellent and top unis that are not part of the group. You are now a customer, paying a shed-load of money for an education and an experience: shop around and don't believe the hype.

Read this article for more info: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/its-t...tudent-miller/
Excerpt, but click through for the whole, very illuminating, post:

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pinkdoughnut11
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(Original post by Sinnoh)
If you're thinking of university as a route to a high-paying career then yes you're probably setting yourself up for disappointment in most cases.
What I personally think should matter is, is there a thing that you're so interested in, you genuinely want to study it full-time for 3-4 years? I suspect that for a lot of people currently doing degrees, this is not the case.
Yeah, this is what I'm not sure of. I enjoy Maths, but I feel like I only really enjoy it inside of a school context. Having said that, I wouldn't mind doing it at university, but I don't want to indebt myself to get a 'run of the mill' job (not to sound disrespectful) that more or less anyone could complete.

For example, it feels stupid to go to university for 4 years to become a teacher to be stuck paying off student loans until they expire more or less. I know their are many non-wage related benefits to teaching, but I am just providing an example. Why wouldn't I train to become a firefighter? Training takes a year, and the work benefits (looking at the pension) are very respectable. Of course some people may be attracted because of the actual work, but I feel like that wouldn't be the case for me. Even if it is, how can you know until you complete your training and actually experience the job?

On the other hand, what alternative is there? Whilst uni may not be a path for a top paying career, it can still provide basis for strong employment. I can only imagine that work available without a degree will be much more limited, and you rely on creating an alternate source of income quickly.
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pinkdoughnut11
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(Original post by Lysistrata)
Please, don't be taken in by the Russell Group mythology. They are a self-selecting group of unis who have stitched up the market, much like a cartel. There are many excellent and top unis that are not part of the group. You are now a customer, paying a shed-load of money for an education and an experience: shop around and don't believe the hype.

Read this article for more info: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/its-t...tudent-miller/
Excerpt, but click through for the whole, very illuminating, post:

Name:  RusselGroupUnis.png
Views: 56
Size:  149.8 KB
Maybe I'm naive, but I struggle to believe this. The article even admits 'employers use it for shortlisting'. Sure, the quality of education may be similar at other institutes. But that does not disregard the prestige and connections made at these unis. Unless you aim to become an academic of some sort, why does the quality of education even matter?

At the moment, I go to an 'underperforming' school. It is laughably pathetic sometimes. But my teachers are amazing. The best I could hope for. They are responsible for my grades. The education they have given me is invaluable. But the lack of support from the actual school leaders has severely screwed over people in my year. Many schools prep students for UCAS applications years early, entering students to extracurriculars by default. Work experience is arranged early on, students are told about student combinations etc. My school doesn't offer any internal support. If I did not know about Math Challenges from the internet, I would never have heard about it. Many friends have had parents email the school about them having mental health problems, and the school just disregards them. How can this institution be compared to a more 'prestigious' sixth form college? Yeah I'm getting similar top grades, but my chance of entering a top uni is lowered as I have had less opportunities presented to me.

I feel like the same thing applies to uni. Even if one is more educated than the the Harvard + Oxford grad, does it matter? When IBs knock on these campus begging for fresh grads, getting into those roles is much harder if you do not go to said campuses.

EDIT: To support claims, just look at the Math grad salaries. Imperial goes up to 52k. Warwick up to 40k. Compare to Birmingham, still considered a 'good' uni, at 35k.
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Anonymous1502
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#7
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When I graduate in 2 years I will be curious to find out whether going to a Russel group actually has any benefit, I too have been working so hard for so many years to try and get into uni and now get through uni in the hopes that it will be worth it in the end. Hopefully in 2/3 years I can give a verdict on whether it has all been worth it or whether the stress/pressure was all for nothing.
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londonmyst
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It depends on your ambitions, employment/career expectations, finances, personal priorities and enthusiasm for the subject/city/uni experience.
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Lysistrata
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#9
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(Original post by pinkdoughnut11)
Maybe I'm naive, but I struggle to believe this.

Yeah I'm getting similar top grades, but my chance of entering a top uni is lowered as I have had less opportunities presented to me.

I feel like the same thing applies to uni. Even if one is more educated than the the Harvard + Oxford grad, does it matter? When IBs knock on these campus begging for fresh grads, getting into those roles is much harder if you do not go to said campuses.
Not naive, but maybe inexperienced. Would you consider St Andrews or Bath to be inferior? Neither belong to the Russel Group yet St Andrews is topping Oxbridge for CompSci in current tables and is our best know uni in, for example, the USA alongside Oxford and Cambridge.

Your chance now of entering a top uni may actually be enhanced by going to an underperforming school. There are various factors that some universities use to weight applications eg Oxford. And when you speak of other opportunities, you did well to find the Maths Challenge solo and go for it: that shows self-starting which is valued. TBH many unis don't bother with personal statements at all, and for those that do playing Grade 8 flute or being in the 1st Lax team is irrelevant to your gaining a place today - it rarely supports your application and may suggest you would be less committed to actual study.

If you want to do super-curricular stuff - ie off timetable but supporting your application - there are more opportunities now than before eg for Maths / CompSci students there are the courses (free) run by CyberFirst and GCHQ. A quick search can turn up more. Or jump on to UCAS website to find further info and links to both uni applications, and apprenticeships, and resources to support getting to both options.

I suppose I'd just suggest not being dazzled by a good marketing job: people get into high paying posts today more through a proven track record, so try for example to get a job/internship in every holiday.

Keep exploring too - the scene is constantly changing.
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artful_lounger
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It doesn't matter unless you want to go into investment banking or management consultancy, and in that case it's not whether it's a RG uni that matters or not, it's whether it's a target uni (and not all RG unis are target unis).

For anything else, your employability is dependent on you, what relevant work experience you get, and how well you prepare yourself for the assessment centres etc. They don't care where you studied otherwise.

So by and large this is a moot point. Also I'd note a lot of courses simply aren't offered by those "top" unis and yet the relevant sectors continue to need workers - for example most allied healthcare or creative industries professions.
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Lysistrata
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(Original post by pinkdoughnut11)
Yeah, this is what I'm not sure of. I enjoy Maths, but I feel like I only really enjoy it inside of a school context. Having said that, I wouldn't mind doing it at university, but I don't want to indebt myself to get a 'run of the mill' job (not to sound disrespectful) that more or less anyone could complete.

For example, it feels stupid to go to university for 4 years to become a teacher to be stuck paying off student loans until they expire more or less. I know their are many non-wage related benefits to teaching, but I am just providing an example. Why wouldn't I train to become a firefighter? Training takes a year, and the work benefits (looking at the pension) are very respectable. Of course some people may be attracted because of the actual work, but I feel like that wouldn't be the case for me. Even if it is, how can you know until you complete your training and actually experience the job?

On the other hand, what alternative is there? Whilst uni may not be a path for a top paying career, it can still provide basis for strong employment. I can only imagine that work available without a degree will be much more limited, and you rely on creating an alternate source of income quickly.
This is such a sensible, rational approach. Why rack up 60k in debt for a job that will earn you at or below average and never top the pay of a good plumber or electrician. They too are professionals, are highly trained today now that so much of the work has gone digital, and have the scope to earn substantially more than somebody with an English, modern languages, or Sociology degree. If you are going to choose that kind of a degree to study it has to be because you are passionate about the subject and want to study for the love of it - and you need to be willing to pay for it over the following years.

It's so worthwhile exploring apprenticeship degrees - you gain the degree while gaining work experience and end up with a solid qualification and a much more robust CV than peers at the same age and stage. You also leave without the debt. Look at the huge city firms offering such options now. Also see the UCAS site for advice on this kind of pathway.
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flamingolover
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(Original post by pinkdoughnut11)
The more I think about university, the more it puts me off. Unless you go to a prestigious university (a top russel group), it feels like the private benefit of going is significantly reduced. The chances of getting top-paying roles are much slimmer, so you either have to work much harder, or find alternate routes to wealth, such as a business. The latter option is achievable without a degree of any kind, and of course involves hard work, but has a much greater reward ceiling too.

Thoughts?
It honestly depends on what course you are doing and what you want to do. Some non Russel group unis are at the top of some subject lists. If you want to be a research scientist then yes a Russel group is helpful but if you want to be an actor then maybe not
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mnot
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It depends what you want the degree to do for you...

Id also say in my experience students who are highly motivated high achievers do better regardless of institution.
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Genesiss
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(Original post by pinkdoughnut11)
Maybe I'm naive, but I struggle to believe this. The article even admits 'employers use it for shortlisting'. Sure, the quality of education may be similar at other institutes. But that does not disregard the prestige and connections made at these unis. Unless you aim to become an academic of some sort, why does the quality of education even matter?

At the moment, I go to an 'underperforming' school. It is laughably pathetic sometimes. But my teachers are amazing. The best I could hope for. They are responsible for my grades. The education they have given me is invaluable. But the lack of support from the actual school leaders has severely screwed over people in my year. Many schools prep students for UCAS applications years early, entering students to extracurriculars by default. Work experience is arranged early on, students are told about student combinations etc. My school doesn't offer any internal support. If I did not know about Math Challenges from the internet, I would never have heard about it. Many friends have had parents email the school about them having mental health problems, and the school just disregards them. How can this institution be compared to a more 'prestigious' sixth form college? Yeah I'm getting similar top grades, but my chance of entering a top uni is lowered as I have had less opportunities presented to me.

I feel like the same thing applies to uni. Even if one is more educated than the the Harvard + Oxford grad, does it matter? When IBs knock on these campus begging for fresh grads, getting into those roles is much harder if you do not go to said campuses.

EDIT: To support claims, just look at the Math grad salaries. Imperial goes up to 52k. Warwick up to 40k. Compare to Birmingham, still considered a 'good' uni, at 35k.
it's not really an article; it's an opinion piece and it doesn't say 'employers use it [RG] for shortlisting'; it says 'employers use it to make recruitment easier' which is a throwaway sentence that doesn't even mean anything (literally. like what does that mean? 🤔). apparently the author just threw that in there for the heck of it.

not sure where you got those figures from but be careful when you read statistics about average salaries because there's too many factors to be taken in including if you work in our outside London. perhaps someone who graduated from Imperial is more likely to work in London where you make more coin compared to a graduate from Birmingham?

going back to the op if you think starting your own business is better than going to uni and working for an employer i would think again. majority of small businesses fail within only three years and only a fraction survive over 10. it definitely isn't the smarter option salary wise.
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ajj2000
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(Original post by pinkdoughnut11)

For example, it feels stupid to go to university for 4 years to become a teacher to be stuck paying off student loans until they expire more or less. I know their are many non-wage related benefits to teaching, but I am just providing an example. Why wouldn't I train to become a firefighter? Training takes a year, and the work benefits (looking at the pension) are very respectable. Of course some people may be attracted because of the actual work, but I feel like that wouldn't be the case for me. Even if it is, how can you know until you complete your training and actually experience the job?
If you can get through a maths degree its pretty easy to become a teacher. Much harder to remain one though as its a particularly challenging job.

On the other hand its very hard to become a firefighter. Lots of people want to join and with good reasons. Likewise tube drivers and train drivers.
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Muttley79
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(Original post by pinkdoughnut11)
The more I think about university, the more it puts me off. Unless you go to a prestigious university (a top russel group), it feels like the private benefit of going is significantly reduced. The chances of getting top-paying roles are much slimmer, so you either have to work much harder, or find alternate routes to wealth, such as a business. The latter option is achievable without a degree of any kind, and of course involves hard work, but has a much greater reward ceiling too.

Thoughts?
I totally disagree - the Russell [two ls btw] is a self-selected group. Can you honestly say Bath Uni is not as good as several RGs - of course not. Some degrees at non-RG actually make your more employable - Engineering is an example.
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ajj2000
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(Original post by pinkdoughnut11)
At the moment, I go to an 'underperforming' school. It is laughably pathetic sometimes. But my teachers are amazing. The best I could hope for. They are responsible for my grades. The education they have given me is invaluable. But the lack of support from the actual school leaders has severely screwed over people in my year. Many schools prep students for UCAS applications years early, entering students to extracurriculars by default. Work experience is arranged early on, students are told about student combinations etc. My school doesn't offer any internal support. If I did not know about Math Challenges from the internet, I would never have heard about it. Many friends have had parents email the school about them having mental health problems, and the school just disregards them. How can this institution be compared to a more 'prestigious' sixth form college? Yeah I'm getting similar top grades, but my chance of entering a top uni is lowered as I have had less opportunities presented to me.
Which A levels are you taking and what grades might you receive? Just to run though some of the points you have made:

Many schools prep students for UCAS applications years early, entering students to extracurriculars by default.

With very few exceptions (medicine for example for some universities) none of this matters. What matters is grades and subject choices. Extracurriculars rarely move the dial on admission for UK universities.

Yeah I'm getting similar top grades, but my chance of entering a top uni is lowered as I have had less opportunities presented to me.
Work experience is arranged early on, students are told about student combinations etc.


Work experience generally makes no difference at all to university admissions. Subject combinations may - but there are generally routes to look at if it may be an issue.

If I did not know about Math Challenges from the internet, I would never have heard about it.

I doubt there are many universities where maths challenges make any difference - other than expanding skills to cope better with STEP maths papers.

Many friends have had parents email the school about them having mental health problems, and the school just disregards them. How can this institution be compared to a more 'prestigious' sixth form college?

I dont hear great things about the quality of mental health support at prestigious schools. If anything they keep their grades high by 'disposing' of struggling students.


Yeah I'm getting similar top grades, but my chance of entering a top uni is lowered as I have had less opportunities presented to me.

So long as you are getting top grades in the right subjects you are not disadvantaged in university applications. If you school is underperforming and / or you are from an area with lower participation in higher education you may have opportunities for preferential treatment on admissions.
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Muttley79
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#18
(Original post by pinkdoughnut11)
For example, it feels stupid to go to university for 4 years to become a teacher to be stuck paying off student loans until they expire more or less. I know their are many non-wage related benefits to teaching, but I am just providing an example. .
Good job your teachers did not feel like this; how insulting.
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swanseajack1
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(Original post by pinkdoughnut11)
Maybe I'm naive, but I struggle to believe this. The article even admits 'employers use it for shortlisting'. Sure, the quality of education may be similar at other institutes. But that does not disregard the prestige and connections made at these unis. Unless you aim to become an academic of some sort, why does the quality of education even matter?

At the moment, I go to an 'underperforming' school. It is laughably pathetic sometimes. But my teachers are amazing. The best I could hope for. They are responsible for my grades. The education they have given me is invaluable. But the lack of support from the actual school leaders has severely screwed over people in my year. Many schools prep students for UCAS applications years early, entering students to extracurriculars by default. Work experience is arranged early on, students are told about student combinations etc. My school doesn't offer any internal support. If I did not know about Math Challenges from the internet, I would never have heard about it. Many friends have had parents email the school about them having mental health problems, and the school just disregards them. How can this institution be compared to a more 'prestigious' sixth form college? Yeah I'm getting similar top grades, but my chance of entering a top uni is lowered as I have had less opportunities presented to me.

I feel like the same thing applies to uni. Even if one is more educated than the the Harvard + Oxford grad, does it matter? When IBs knock on these campus begging for fresh grads, getting into those roles is much harder if you do not go to said campuses.

EDIT: To support claims, just look at the Math grad salaries. Imperial goes up to 52k. Warwick up to 40k. Compare to Birmingham, still considered a 'good' uni, at 35k.
Let us start with the reason RG was set up. Prior to 1990 there was no RG and there were universities and other educational establishments such as polytechnics. The government made a decision to allow other places to become universities. A number of mainly older universities in big cities decided to form the RG to protect themselves so they didnt lose their lucrative research funding. It is a self protection group.

Up until 2011 there were 2 of these groups representing the top 30 or so universities. The RG group and the more successful 1994 group. A group of universities paid the RG to join and left the 1994 group. The other universities chose not to. Durham, Exeter, Queen Mary and York left whilst others like Bath, Lancaster, Loughborough, St Andrews and others didnt. Does being RG and paying for it make them better than the others. It doesnt. That is an example of why RG unis are not better than others,
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swanseajack1
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(Original post by swanseajack1)
Let us start with the reason RG was set up. Prior to 1990 there was no RG and there were universities and other educational establishments such as polytechnics. The government made a decision to allow other places to become universities. A number of mainly older universities in big cities decided to form the RG to protect themselves so they didnt lose their lucrative research funding. It is a self protection group.

Up until 2011 there were 2 of these groups representing the top 30 or so universities. The RG group and the more successful 1994 group. A group of universities paid the RG to join and left the 1994 group. The other universities chose not to. Durham, Exeter, Queen Mary and York left whilst others like Bath, Lancaster, Loughborough, St Andrews and others didnt. Does being RG and paying for it make them better than the others. It doesnt. That is an example of why RG unis are not better than others,
As far as all RG having higher wages. Bath has one of the highest. This is basically for 2 reasons. One he subjects it offers are higher paid. The other is its placement scheme which is generally regarded as the best in the UK. Humanities students tend to have lower salaries than students studying Engineering. This affects average starting pay. The area you work in has a massive impact as well so you for that reason cannot compare figures in places.

As far as being in a poor performing school. Most leading universities make offers 2 grades lower if you are in a school whose performance was in the bottom 40% the previous year. Bristol university actually shows the schools offers are made from and also shows a post code checker.

Most universities and subjects dont require work experience etc. You can apply for Maths at Exeter and will likely be accepted without Further Maths, STEP or competitions and that is true for most RG universities.

Advice about subject competitions is a problem in many schools not just poor performing schools. Things like taking Further Maths is a problem we come across often on here. Another issue we come across is students taking Economics and Business together and that is rejected by a small number of universities. However the step/FM issue applies to a very small number of universities. Most RG and others dont ask for it. Maths is often a must for things like Economics, Engineering, Computer Science and Business or Marketing courses. Often students havent been made aware of this and not just by poor performing school students.
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