Picking a university can be tricky! As a first step, most universities offer pre-application help and advice to future or prospective students through careers and employment contacts listed online. You can find a lot of information on universities’ ‘Study’, ‘Future Students’ or ‘Prospective Students’ sections. This includes study options, support services, and contact details if you want to speak to someone about any specific questions.
Here are the things you might want to consider when making your decision.
Campuses can be inner city, suburban, regional or just plain rural. Each city or town has its own unique personality, so think about differences in lifestyle, cost of living, transport and people. You may prefer the sunshine in Cairns, the cheap rent in Hobart or the inner-city Sydney campus you can get to by public transport.
Generally, metropolitan campuses are more popular and are therefore harder to get into than rural campuses. It is not uncommon for larger institutions to offer the same course at multiple campuses and have different entry requirements for each. If you are worried about meeting the academic entry requirements of a particular course, it may be worth checking out if your preferred university has a regional campus.
Your choice of subject and type of course could narrow down the number of possible universities to just a few.For example, if you want to study dentistry, there are only eight universities where you can do that in Australia. Or, if you want to study Burmese, there is only one (ANU, in case you are wondering).
On the other hand, if you are interested in one of the major subjects like Arts or Law, there maybe 30 or more options, so do your homework.
Course choice is consistently the top reason why students drop out of university in the first year so it is important to get it right. Do you want the best course or the one that is quite good but offers the subject options you really want? Do you want an opportunity to do a work placement as part of your studies? Or maybe a course with the least continuous assessment?
We'd love to be able to give you the answers here, but it's all a matter of what you think is most important for you. Do your research, ask lots of questions, and spend time thinking about your priorities before you settle down on your choice of university.
As a care leaver, the availability and price of on-campus and off-campus accommodation will probably be a big consideration. Accommodation options differ between institutions, with some offering options to suit all tastes and budgets (including colleges, apartments, student residences and homestays) and others not offering any at all. If you're planning to rent, check out the average rental prices near each institution.
Most students who attend university do so because they want to improve their chances of gaining employment in their chosen field of study, so it is important to note that universities can differ in the extent that they incorporate industry in the classroom and prepare students for employment. Some universities have research and technology parks in which university-affiliated organisations are based. Other universities have strong corporate links, which can facilitate graduate recruitment opportunities, prominent guest lecturers, internships, scholarships and industry projects.
You will even find universities with TAFE departments that offer students the chance to move from industry-focused VET qualifications into degrees and vice versa. If your main aim is to complete research and pursue a career in academia, on the other hand, then the university’s research partnerships, academic links and research facilities will be of greater importance.
areas of strength
Remember that no university is good at everything and no university is good at nothing. Every university excels in particular areas, so you should ensure that your field of study is a strong point of the university you choose and sits high on its list of priorities.
Choosing a university that excels in your field of study may provide you with access to more specialised opportunities, including custom-built facilities (a moot court for law students, for instance), field-specific academic opportunities (such as overseas study tours) and employment opportunities with prestigious organisations in your industry (internships with industry partners, for example). If your university excels in research in your field, it’s also likely that its cutting-edge research will filter through to your course, that you will be taught by prominent academics, and that there will be plenty of opportunities to undertake research.