How to Choose a University For Studying

By life@scape
Sep 09, 2022
Choosing the right university for you can be an overwhelming process. Read our key tips to help you make the best decision for your future, considering the university's reputation, location, cost of living, support services, student culture and potential career opportunities.

So you’ve gotten a fantastic ATAR score and have decided to postpone your fun-filled gap year until after you’ve started studying at university.

But now you’ve got a big decision to make: Which university do you want to study at?

It’s a big decision and not one you should take lightly. But don’t worry, we’ve got a bunch of useful tips to help you figure out the best university for you!

Consider How Much Your Course Of Choice Costs and How Long it Takes

The number one question you need to ask yourself is “what do I want to study”?

That’s because not only will this determine how long you’ll be at university for, but the course costs for different study fields will vary. Let’s take a look at a few examples:

  • A law degree can take between 3 to 5 years (if you’re pairing it with something else as part of a double degree program) and each year of full-time study will cost $14,500.
  • A medical degree can take between 4 to 6 years depending on the program (and that’s not including post-grad study but that’s a topic for another day), and each year of full-time study will cost $11,300.
  • A psychology degree generally takes 4 years to complete and will cost $3,950 per year of full-time study.

So to sum up, read up on what you want to study before making a choice because you could be at uni for anywhere between 3 to 6 years and your degree could cost anywhere between $12,000 to $68,000.


How Important Are University Rankings And How Are Universities Ranked?

Studying at a highly ranked university is some akin to a badge of honour and will undoubtedly look really good to prospective employers – but what does a “highly ranked university” even mean? Furthermore, how exactly are universities ranked?

The key thing to know here is that there are a number of university rankings out there, all of which use different ranking criteria. This means that one highly ranked university on one rankings list may not be quite as high on another. The second thing to know here is how exactly universities are ranked, and for that we’re going to dig into the 3 most prestigious and influential rankings systems.

  • Academic Ranking of World Universities
    • The world’s first global university rankings, this focuses on research excellence and uses 6 indicators to rank universities:
      • The number of alumni winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals
      • The number of staff winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals
      • The number of highly cited researchers selected by Clarivate Analytics
      • The number of articles published in journals of Nature and Science
      • The number of articles indexed in Science Citation Index – Expanded and Social Sciences Citation Index
      • The per capita academic performance of a university

  • QS World University Rankings
    • Started in 2004, these rankings use 6 metrics to rank universities around the world:
      • Academic reputation
      • Employer reputation
      • Faculty/student ratio
      • Citations per faculty
      • International faculty ratio
      • International student ratio

  • Times Higher Education World University Rankings
    • Started in 2010 after separating from the QS World University Rankings, this list uses 13 different performance indicators (grouped into 5 categories) to rank universities around the world:
      • Teaching (the learning environment)
      • Research (volume, income and reputation)
      • Citations (research influence)
      • International outlook (staff, students and research)
      • Industry Income (knowledge transfer)

So here’s the big question – Do university rankings matter? The answer is, uh, it depends. Each university has its own qualities and the university rankings are a sort of guideline on what to expect. It’s a good starting point in deciding where you want to study, but we recommend that you do more research on top of the university rankings before you make up your mind!


Consider Administration and Support Services

Having a great academic reputation is one thing for any university, but it’s just as important to have access to quality administration and support services.

Studying at university can be challenging for some people, so it’s important that your university of choice has a wide range of services that will help you make the most of student life, as well as making things a lot easier. Having a well organised university with good administration services means you’ll run into less hurdles when it comes to organising your timetable!

Make sure that your university of choice provides a wide range of support services including (but not limited to) counselling and mental health support, disability services, health services, career counselling, learning hubs and workshops, athlete support, and childcare information.

Consider Sports and Societies Involved In The University

Uni life isn’t just about studying, it’s equally important to get involved with the campus community, socialising with new people, and pursuing your interests via the societies that are at your university of choice!

So definitely research the campus life, community vibe, and the type of societies that are at your uni of choice. Becoming an active part of a uni group or society is a great way to expand your horizons beyond studying.

Consider Where You Want to Study

Location, location, location! Do you want to study close to home or do you want to move to a completely different state?

It’s important to factor in which city and state your university of choice is in as it may not be logistically the easiest option in terms of accommodation and travelling.

Luckily, Scape has accommodation tailored specifically for students in 4 of Australia’s biggest cities: Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney.

So if you’re considering moving to one of those aforementioned Australian cities for your university studies and are in need of accommodation, we’re more than happy to have you in one of our buildings!