Business is a popular subject and there are plenty of degree programmes out there to choose from. So how do you know which ones are going to be worth it? Here are some things to look out for
1. A well-rounded curriculum
'Business' is a pretty vague term, really, and it needs to be: it covers anything from huge pan-global investment banks, to giant retailers, to corporations who own the companies who own the companies who sell us the stuff we like. It also covers setting up an Etsy store and making money from whimsical unicorn rice sculptures.
A good business degree will set you up with the knowledge to help any of those operations (and many more) be successful, touching on marketing, economics, accountancy and more. Maybe not how to actually make the unicorn rice sculptures, though.
2. Knowledge that works outside of the classroom
Theory is all well and good, but businesses operate out in the wild world, so a good degree programme will help you make the connection between the two.
Syed Muhammad is senior lecturer at The University of Law Business School and explains that applying the theory to real life is where things get exciting. “What impact will autonomous cars have on the logistics industry? How will proposed supermarket mergers change the way we shop? The business world is changing rapidly and new business models are causing huge levels of disruption.”
These are all things his students engage with in workshops, business games and discussions. “It's a much more interesting way to learn.”
3. Imaginative teaching
Look for innovative teaching and evidence that students are having a good time (this is where open days can be invaluable).
For Dr Sara Fisher, lecturer at The University of Law Business School, small classes and business games are two innovations that work for her students. “For a recent marketing class the theme was about lowering plastic use in supermarkets,” she says, explaining that her students had to come up with a low-plastic-use strategy for a supermarket. “It gave them a real business challenge which they had to answer effectively. They then presented this for their assessment.”
4. The chance to meet and learn from all kinds of people
You'll often find that your fellow students are some of your best teachers. Uni is a chance to meet people from all over the world, with backgrounds and world views that are very different to your own.
On a business course this can be particularly helpful, because businesses operate very differently around the world – so a diverse student body can give you some insights. “With a classroom full of students from different backgrounds, industries and nationalities we learn new ways of thinking and new ideas,” says Syed.
5. Contacts with businesses
Industry contacts matter because a good uni will introduce you to people who can help you understand the real challenges their businesses are facing, so that you can start to see where the theory you're learning will come in handy.
You'll also be able to ask questions, sniff out internship opportunities and – just as importantly – get a feeling for the kinds of companies you like, and don't like. Find out who comes to see students at the courses you're interested in – ideally you want to see big names as well as entrepreneurs from lots of different areas.
6. Credible qualifications
You'll hear a lot of business schools talking about 'accredited qualifications' and 'professional bodies'. A professional body is an organisation attached to a particular profession, like accountancy; or to a business discipline, like management.
These bodies often help people develop their skills, and offer professional accreditation (or certification) to show that the qualifications they have are at a level the industry recognises.
In other words, a degree that's been accredited by a professional body such as the Chartered Management Institute is one that employers will have confidence in; which means you can, too.
7. Modern classrooms and equipment
If you're going to operate in the 21st century business world you're going to need more resources than dusty textbooks and draughty lecture halls.
An effective business school will incorporate tech into its daily life – look for libraries with all the WiFi, e-books and a seamless virtual learning environment. “Today’s students have so many opportunities open to them through modern day technology,” says Syed. “We integrate technology into our classes to ensure students have the most up-to-date information available to them. We utilise online bookshelves and e-books to ensure core texts are available at the touch of a button.”
A good school will also treat its students as people, not sardines to shout management theory at. Group workshops and small class sizes will help too, as you'll get more meaningful time with your tutors.
8. An environment that helps you develop
A good business degree will come with a good student experience: clubs, societies, sports facilities and anything else that will help you enjoy life beyond the classroom.
It should also come with a good attitude: one that expects you to think independently, but encourages you to get to know and work with your fellow students. Skills like team work, time management, leadership and communication all come from that kind of environment, and are highly valued by employers.
Our partnership with The University of Law Business School
The Student Room is proud to work with The University of Law Business School as the official partner of our business hub.
The University of Law is the UK's longest-established specialist provider of legal education and training. It is now bringing its expertise in quality education to the business world, with undergraduate and postgraduate programmes that focus on practical learning, personal development and employability.
As part of The University of Law, business school students are joining an institution which has received a gold ranking for its teaching, learning and outcomes in the government-led Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) in 2017.
Read more about studying business at university
Visit The University of Law Business School website
Follow The University of Law Business School on Facebook
Follow The University of Law Business School on Twitter