How to choose the right uni during lockdown

This article was last updated on 20 May 2020.

Ordinarily, if you’re currently receiving offers from universities or choosing one for next year, you’d be busy doing your research: visiting exhibitions, collecting prospectuses and talking to everyone you can at university open days. But these are not ordinary times and you might be wondering how you can work out which is the right university for you when you’re not able to go and visit them.

But do not fear! Universities are well aware of the current situation and the restrictions it places on applicants and they’re doing everything they can to help you make the right decision. And organisations like UCAS and The Student Room are also working hard to make sure that even though you can’t visit universities right now, there are loads of resources online to make you feel as though you did.

With their help, we’ve put together this guide to help you with your research:

How will coronavirus affect my application? Universities are more than aware of the current situation and are taking it into account when considering applications. See here and here for some useful guidance, including information on the extra time students have been given to make decisions on their offers and videos responding to other questions you may have.

What’s the best kind of research to do from home? Of course, you want to do your research before you decide which university offer you accept. Although you can’t visit universities in person at the moment, there are lots of other things you can do:

1.Virtual open days

Many universities already hold virtual open days to meet the needs of international students. You can find out about them here.

It’s a good idea to prepare for your virtual open day the same way you would a regular one. Fortunately, The Student Room have put together this helpful guide to show you how.

2. Webinars and other events

Many universities also hold webinars and other online events, which you can learn more about here

3. Online exhibitions

Exhibitions are just like careers fairs, but for universities. Usually, you would be able to visit an exhibition in person to gather information about universities and speak to their admissions teams. Because these have now been postponed, UCAS are piloting virtual exhibitions online throughout summer and autumn to support all types of students. There will be:

- An opportunity to login and have direct access to up to 50 institutions in one place

- A live online event for a period of two or more days, where students can sign up and login to visit virtual university stands

- An opportunity to ask questions via the chat function, which will be answered by student ambassadors or university officials

- A chance to set up calls and meetings with universities to talk more fluidly and freely

- An option to download prospectuses and content and to view websites and social feeds, as well as attending live and pre-recorded content in the auditorium with a live Q&A.

4. UCAS Facebook Live events

UCAS are running Facebook Live events on different topics. These can help you stay abreast of latest developments and have the opportunity to ask questions. So far, there have been updates from ministers on start dates and predicted/ calculated grades, a Q&A for Scottish students and a Q&A for International students. In the near future will be Facebook Live events to support Year 13s or those looking to start uni in Sept 2020, so keep an eye on their Facebook page for notice of more to come! UCAS are also planning a series of online sessions to support Year 12s with research into universities.

5. League tables and data

There are also data sources that can help you understand whether a university or course can offer what you’re looking for.

- League tables can let you know how a university or course ranks alongside others in the UK. The Complete University Guide shows the subject rating, entry standards, graduate prospects and student satisfaction rankings for each course at each UK university.

- Data based on Labour Market Information is available at LMI for all, where you can learn about potential job openings in different sectors.

6. Student communities

Although research and data are all good ways to help you make a choice, it’s important that you think about what you really want when it comes to the kind of university you want to attend. It’s a community you’ll belong to, after all, and you need to know it’s the right one for you. Speaking to other students is a really good way to get an insight into student life and community and, fortunately, there are ways you can do this from the comfort of your home. The Student Room is the UK’s largest online student community, where you’ll find your peers discussing a number of issues and offering their opinions. You can also register to the UCAS Student Hub for one-to-one interactions with students from different universities.

Finally, if you’re applying for 2021 and are concerned that you’ve missed some study or prep time, be reassured that universities understand this and are being flexible. They are looking for the skillset you can offer. Look at their website and speak to their admissions team for more information. There’s more information here and you can also visit the UCAS Student Hub.

The Student Room has also launched a new weekly online event ‘TSR Answers’ to help alleviate the growing anxieties and concerns that have come about post the coronavirus outbreak. You can find out more at The Student Room.

For more support with your research, you can visit:

UCAS The Student Room The Complete University Guide

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