The Student Room Group

What is the benefit of going to an 'elite' university

I recently got offers from a couple of 'elite' career universities (Oxbridge/LSE/Imperial), and have been pondering what the point of them actually are.

They enable you to enter IB, Consultancy, Law etc at top firms - but all these professions drain your life and plague you with 100 hour weeks, lack of sleep, poor health and more.

It kind of feels like unless you are going into academia, the career benefits of going to an 'elite' university is overstated, unless you want to sacrifice your life for a slightly bigger paycheque.

Thoughts?

Scroll to see replies

Reply 1
Original post by WinchesterAK
I recently got offers from a couple of 'elite' career universities (Oxbridge/LSE/Imperial), and have been pondering what the point of them actually are.

They enable you to enter IB, Consultancy, Law etc at top firms - but all these professions drain your life and plague you with 100 hour weeks, lack of sleep, poor health and more.

It kind of feels like unless you are going into academia, the career benefits of going to an 'elite' university is overstated, unless you want to sacrifice your life for a slightly bigger paycheque.

Thoughts?

Education is all about what options it opens up for you. Oxbridge/LSE/Imperial etc might open up a few more options and it's a might. It depends on what you want to study and what you intend to do with it.

Your life, your call, but in general try to keep as many options as you can in play!
Reply 2
From a pedagogical viewpoint the big strength of Oxon/Cantab is the tutorial system. I don't know about career benefits, but there are educational benefits.
Original post by WinchesterAK
I recently got offers from a couple of 'elite' career universities (Oxbridge/LSE/Imperial), and have been pondering what the point of them actually are.

They enable you to enter IB, Consultancy, Law etc at top firms - but all these professions drain your life and plague you with 100 hour weeks, lack of sleep, poor health and more.

It kind of feels like unless you are going into academia, the career benefits of going to an 'elite' university is overstated, unless you want to sacrifice your life for a slightly bigger paycheque.

Thoughts?


Depends on your own view and what your attitude to prestige is and what you consider by it.

It is overstated for you, because you have a different point of view (and a critical one!) on elite universities. For the rest it means everything and above.
(edited 1 year ago)
Reply 4
For undergrad, outside of a handful (like the ones you mentioned) there aren't really many benefits aside from bragging rights and networks. Anything outside of the insanely highly competitive jobs dont really tend to care very much about where your degree comes from as opposed to what grade you have. For example a 3rd from UCL is not going to beat a 2:1/1st from UWE or some such.

It changes at post grad where the 'fancy' universities have much more highly regarded research programmes and so on though but for undergrad, meh.
(edited 1 year ago)
Access to internationally well known unis, lively city locations, potential to experience high quality teaching or campus facilities and gain helpful networking contacts.
Much depends on how you define 'elite' university and the nature of the 'benefit' in question.

There are really only two 'elite' universities in the UK. The financial resources of Oxford and Cambridge are greater than all other British universities put together. Their hugely favourable staff to student ratio (which is more significant than the tutorial and supervision teaching method per se) alone sets them apart from the rest.

To these one might care to add the four London big beasts (Imperial, LSE, KCL and UCL), which have the dual benefit of being located in one of the world's leading cities and, from a domestic standpoint, enjoy the Russell Group cachet. This 'Golden Trangle' group confers all the benefits listed by @londonmyst in the above post.

Thereafter, you have the 'Russell Group Plus', comprising all or most of the RG and a handful of others, such as St Andrews and Bath, that are deemed to be on a par. Here the benefit is a curious mix of social status and quality assurance, which in certain careers (the Legal profession, for example) may still confer an advantage.

Of course, what really matters is that the university experience is well matched to each student's requirements. By way of example, someone aiming to be a school teacher might find that one of the former teacher training colleges offers a greater depth of expertise than a more academically oriented university Education department. And crucially, students need to be happy that the degree structure, course content, teaching and assessment methods, campus facilities and location of their chosen university offers the best possible combination to meet their particular needs.
Reply 7
Original post by Supermature
Much depends on how you define 'elite' university and the nature of the 'benefit' in question.

There are really only two 'elite' universities in the UK. The financial resources of Oxford and Cambridge are greater than all other British universities put together. Their hugely favourable staff to student ratio (which is more significant than the tutorial and supervision teaching method per se) alone sets them apart from the rest.

To these one might care to add the four London big beasts (Imperial, LSE, KCL and UCL), which have the dual benefit of being located in one of the world's leading cities and, from a domestic standpoint, enjoy the Russell Group cachet. This 'Golden Trangle' group confers all the benefits listed by @londonmyst in the above post.

Thereafter, you have the 'Russell Group Plus', comprising all or most of the RG and a handful of others, such as St Andrews and Bath, that are deemed to be on a par. Here the benefit is a curious mix of social status and quality assurance, which in certain careers (the Legal profession, for example) may still confer an advantage.

Of course, what really matters is that the university experience is well matched to each student's requirements. By way of example, someone aiming to be a school teacher might find that one of the former teacher training colleges offers a greater depth of expertise than a more academically oriented university Education department. And crucially, students need to be happy that the degree structure, course content, teaching and assessment methods, campus facilities and location of their chosen university offers the best possible combination to meet their particular needs.


PRSOM
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by WinchesterAK
I recently got offers from a couple of 'elite' career universities (Oxbridge/LSE/Imperial), and have been pondering what the point of them actually are.

They enable you to enter IB, Consultancy, Law etc at top firms - but all these professions drain your life and plague you with 100 hour weeks, lack of sleep, poor health and more.

It kind of feels like unless you are going into academia, the career benefits of going to an 'elite' university is overstated, unless you want to sacrifice your life for a slightly bigger paycheque.

Thoughts?


"all these professions drain your life and plague you with 100 hour weeks, lack of sleep, poor health and more" is simply an ignorant cliche that is only true in a very few cases when people let it be so. Most people who choose those environments flourish in them, and enjoy the rewards.

If you want an easy life, then sure, there's no real point setting yourself up for a competitive life (unless you want the option of changing your mind). But actually, in contrast to the current approach of allowing everyone dozens of chances to fail, some people still like to live a challenging and rewarding life.
Original post by WinchesterAK
I recently got offers from a couple of 'elite' career universities (Oxbridge/LSE/Imperial), and have been pondering what the point of them actually are.

They enable you to enter IB, Consultancy, Law etc at top firms - but all these professions drain your life and plague you with 100 hour weeks, lack of sleep, poor health and more.

It kind of feels like unless you are going into academia, the career benefits of going to an 'elite' university is overstated, unless you want to sacrifice your life for a slightly bigger paycheque.

Thoughts?


IB, consultancy and law are not just a slightly larger pay cheque... that’s the reason people are so focussed on them.
Original post by WinchesterAK
I recently got offers from a couple of 'elite' career universities (Oxbridge/LSE/Imperial), and have been pondering what the point of them actually are.

They enable you to enter IB, Consultancy, Law etc at top firms - but all these professions drain your life and plague you with 100 hour weeks, lack of sleep, poor health and more.

It kind of feels like unless you are going into academia, the career benefits of going to an 'elite' university is overstated, unless you want to sacrifice your life for a slightly bigger paycheque.

Thoughts?

I agree. Especially for international students, where the tuition fees in Oxbridge are much greater than the other RGs... it may not be that worth it. It may be better to go to mid RG and then fight your way to Rest of G6/Oxbridge in master/phd.

I think, Tier 1: Oxbridge (heads and shoulders above other universities, hugely favourable student to staff ratio, tutorial system)

Tier 2: Rest of G6 (LSE, KCL, UCL, Imperial) with links to London, and Russell Group. This + Oxbridge is the upper tier of RG.

Tier 3: Mid RG + others comparable (top 7 to top 18), e.g. Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle, Sheffield, Leeds, Durham, Bath, St Andrews

Tier 4: Low RG + others comparable (top 19 to top 30), e.g. Lancaster, Leicester, Cardiff, QMUL, Liverpool etc.

Tier 5: Established post 1992 unis, those unis with some name, or maybe specialist in one subject (top 31 to 50)

Tier 6: Rest of the post 1992 unis (top 51-100)

Tier 7: Ex-polys (top 101-125)

Tier 8: The scam universities (top 126 to 131)

Many tell you to wait for a year or two to get into a stronger uni like Oxbridge, but if you can already get into Imperial/LSE then what's the point? I'd say this, even if you're 17/16/15/14 when you start university. Now, for mid RG there's a stronger case, but still, if you're going for masters/phd anyway then might as well apply postgrad.
Original post by Kallisto
Depends on your own view and what your attitude to prestige is and what you consider by it.

It is overstated for you, because you have a different point of view (and a critical one!) on elite universities. For the rest it means everything and above.

I used to be a huge elitist who thought the elite unis were everything and above, but now I think somewhat differently.
Original post by Napp
For undergrad, outside of a handful (like the ones you mentioned) there aren't really many benefits aside from bragging rights and networks. Anything outside of the insanely highly competitive jobs dont really tend to care very much about where your degree comes from as opposed to what grade you have. For example a 3rd from UCL is not going to beat a 2:1/1st from UWE or some such.

It changes at post grad where the 'fancy' universities have much more highly regarded research programmes and so on though but for undergrad, meh.

Agreed, although for many ex-polys they're so crappy that I wonder why are we funding them. Like Bedfordshire.
Original post by Supermature
Much depends on how you define 'elite' university and the nature of the 'benefit' in question.

There are really only two 'elite' universities in the UK. The financial resources of Oxford and Cambridge are greater than all other British universities put together. Their hugely favourable staff to student ratio (which is more significant than the tutorial and supervision teaching method per se) alone sets them apart from the rest.

To these one might care to add the four London big beasts (Imperial, LSE, KCL and UCL), which have the dual benefit of being located in one of the world's leading cities and, from a domestic standpoint, enjoy the Russell Group cachet. This 'Golden Trangle' group confers all the benefits listed by @londonmyst in the above post.

Thereafter, you have the 'Russell Group Plus', comprising all or most of the RG and a handful of others, such as St Andrews and Bath, that are deemed to be on a par. Here the benefit is a curious mix of social status and quality assurance, which in certain careers (the Legal profession, for example) may still confer an advantage.

Of course, what really matters is that the university experience is well matched to each student's requirements. By way of example, someone aiming to be a school teacher might find that one of the former teacher training colleges offers a greater depth of expertise than a more academically oriented university Education department. And crucially, students need to be happy that the degree structure, course content, teaching and assessment methods, campus facilities and location of their chosen university offers the best possible combination to meet their particular needs.

I quite agree, although I think RG+ should be divided into two tiers: mid and lower. Mid should be like Manchester, Glasgow... low should be cardiff, liverpool. At least there's some bragging rights.

You're right for other paths. Sometimes the less elite university is better. I decided not to go for Oxbridge for undergrad because I didn't really like the environment and teaching style for undergrad.
Original post by threeportdrift
"all these professions drain your life and plague you with 100 hour weeks, lack of sleep, poor health and more" is simply an ignorant cliche that is only true in a very few cases when people let it be so. Most people who choose those environments flourish in them, and enjoy the rewards.

If you want an easy life, then sure, there's no real point setting yourself up for a competitive life (unless you want the option of changing your mind). But actually, in contrast to the current approach of allowing everyone dozens of chances to fail, some people still like to live a challenging and rewarding life.

Fair enough.
Original post by justlearning1469
(...)

I used to be a huge elitist who thought the elite unis were everything and above, but now I think somewhat differently.

(...)


It is okay. The attitudes to life and the imaginations are changing all the time as long as we live. I personally have never seen a sense in it, simply because I always thought that it is not a good idea to aim for a great career with a lot of responsibility and a lot of working hours in a week. Especially I had never such a big interest in prestige.
Original post by Kallisto
It is okay. The attitudes to life and the imaginations are changing all the time as long as we live. I personally have never seen a sense in it, simply because I always thought that it is not a good idea to aim for a great career with a lot of responsibility and a lot of working hours in a week. Especially I had never such a big interest in prestige.

Fair enough. To me, I might as well go to university this year, even if it's "only" mid RG. I'm probably going to attempt postgrad study anyway, so if I itched for prestige, I'd probably be aiming high for postgrad anyway.
Original post by justlearning1469
I agree. Especially for international students, where the tuition fees in Oxbridge are much greater than the other RGs... it may not be that worth it. It may be better to go to mid RG and then fight your way to Rest of G6/Oxbridge in master/phd.

I think, Tier 1: Oxbridge (heads and shoulders above other universities, hugely favourable student to staff ratio, tutorial system)

Tier 2: Rest of G6 (LSE, KCL, UCL, Imperial) with links to London, and Russell Group. This + Oxbridge is the upper tier of RG.

Tier 3: Mid RG + others comparable (top 7 to top 18), e.g. Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle, Sheffield, Leeds, Durham, Bath, St Andrews

Tier 4: Low RG + others comparable (top 19 to top 30), e.g. Lancaster, Leicester, Cardiff, QMUL, Liverpool etc.

Tier 5: Established post 1992 unis, those unis with some name, or maybe specialist in one subject (top 31 to 50)

Tier 6: Rest of the post 1992 unis (top 51-100)

Tier 7: Ex-polys (top 101-125)

Tier 8: The scam universities (top 126 to 131)

On what basis have you tiered them? Reputation? Overall satisfaction? Employment rates?

Though, I don't totally disagree with this list. However, I would add the caveat that uni is ultimately what you make of it. If you go to KCL, for example, but don't make use of any opportunities and just coast along for three years, it's not going to do anything for you. And, of course, it would vary slightly from course to course. I would put Bath, St. Andrews and maybe even Durham higher though.

I used to be a huge elitist who thought the elite unis were everything and above, but now I think somewhat differently - a curious perspective. What made you change your viewpoint on the matter?
Original post by sleep_supremacy
On what basis have you tiered them? Reputation? Overall satisfaction? Employment rates?

Though, I don't totally disagree with this list. However, I would add the caveat that uni is ultimately what you make of it. If you go to KCL, for example, but don't make use of any opportunities and just coast along for three years, it's not going to do anything for you. And, of course, it would vary slightly from course to course. I would put Bath, St. Andrews and maybe even Durham higher though.

I used to be a huge elitist who thought the elite unis were everything and above, but now I think somewhat differently - a curious perspective. What made you change your viewpoint on the matter?

Reputation, overall satisfaction, research, teaching quality, whether they have specialist subjects.

For Bath, St Andrews, Durham, Edinburgh... remember these are just overall tiers. There are + and - signs for those high within a tier. I'd consider St Andrews, Durham, Bath and Edinburgh + in Tier 3, Newcastle - in Tier 3.

I guess I saw some stories of people who made it despite not going to elite universities, and reading up about the disadvantages of some elite universities.
Original post by justlearning1469
I agree. Especially for international students, where the tuition fees in Oxbridge are much greater than the other RGs... it may not be that worth it. It may be better to go to mid RG and then fight your way to Rest of G6/Oxbridge in master/phd.

I think, Tier 1: Oxbridge (heads and shoulders above other universities, hugely favourable student to staff ratio, tutorial system)

Tier 2: Rest of G6 (LSE, KCL, UCL, Imperial) with links to London, and Russell Group. This + Oxbridge is the upper tier of RG.

Tier 3: Mid RG + others comparable (top 7 to top 18), e.g. Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle, Sheffield, Leeds, Durham, Bath, St Andrews

Tier 4: Low RG + others comparable (top 19 to top 30), e.g. Lancaster, Leicester, Cardiff, QMUL, Liverpool etc.

Tier 5: Established post 1992 unis, those unis with some name, or maybe specialist in one subject (top 31 to 50)

Tier 6: Rest of the post 1992 unis (top 51-100)

Tier 7: Ex-polys (top 101-125)

Tier 8: The scam universities (top 126 to 131)

Many tell you to wait for a year or two to get into a stronger uni like Oxbridge, but if you can already get into Imperial/LSE then what's the point? I'd say this, even if you're 17/16/15/14 when you start university. Now, for mid RG there's a stronger case, but still, if you're going for masters/phd anyway then might as well apply postgrad.

I used to be a huge elitist who thought the elite unis were everything and above, but now I think somewhat differently.

Agreed, although for many ex-polys they're so crappy that I wonder why are we funding them. Like Bedfordshire.

I quite agree, although I think RG+ should be divided into two tiers: mid and lower. Mid should be like Manchester, Glasgow... low should be cardiff, liverpool. At least there's some bragging rights.

You're right for other paths. Sometimes the less elite university is better. I decided not to go for Oxbridge for undergrad because I didn't really like the environment and teaching style for undergrad.

Fair enough.

...... and the "Plate Glass unis"?? Established in their own right in the 60s - not ex polys.
Original post by MadMathsMum
...... and the "Plate Glass unis"?? Established in their own right in the 60s - not ex polys.

I guess a few are in mid RG, a few low RG, some top 31-50, some top 51-100
Since the discussion so far seems limited to what an elite uni can do for you in UK, what about internationally? I’m curious :smile:
Original post by sleep_supremacy
Since the discussion so far seems limited to what an elite uni can do for you in UK, what about internationally? I’m curious :smile:

In America it appears the Ivy Leagues, public Ivies do quite well. Even the smaller, undergrad focused colleges like Reed, Amherst, William & Mary
I wouldn’t rank KCL that highly universities such as Loughborough Warwick Bristol all rank higher than KCL year after year

Quick Reply

Latest

Trending

Trending