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Are Non-Oxbridge/London Universities Underrated?

Updated: Jul 15, 2021

Disclaimer: These are entirely our own opinions. We believe that all universities have their own advantages and disadvantages but we’re trying to address the idea that you must go to a “prestigious” university to be successful. This is a general piece of writing and there might be variation across universities and courses.

Often when we ask international students where they want to study in the UK, it is very likely that they will say Oxbridge (Oxford and Cambridge) or one of the London universities (including UCL, Imperial, and King’s). This is because these universities are the most well known UK universities internationally, whether it be among students themselves or parents.

With excellent academic reputation and high rankings in league tables, they are easily the most sought after universities among both international and home students.

So, if you are an international student wanting to study in the UK, you might be wondering: what about the non-Oxbridge/London universities? Are they not as recognized given that they are less well known internationally? Will you be missing out on academic opportunities, future success, and a great university experience if you don’t study at Oxbridge/London?

As two international students who chose to study at the University of Manchester, we’d like to share our thoughts on this.

Academic Opportunities:

As you probably know, Oxbridge and London universities are so well known for their excellent academic reputation. There is no doubt that there will be countless academic opportunities available to you in the form of research, internships, or studying abroad if you study at these institutions.

But does this mean that if you don’t study at Oxbridge or London, you will be missing out on great teaching and learning opportunities altogether? Of course not! Other universities also offer great opportunities that you can get involved in and it entirely depends on whether you make the most out of them. Believe it or not (as cliche as it sounds), opportunities only come to those who go searching for them!

You can secure academic opportunities through good networking, for example by reaching out to professors, getting involved in societies, and attending events that they host. For example, during our first year at UoM, we attended various medical conferences hosted by university societies such as the Emergency Medicine Conference which led us to discover several specialties that we are interested in!

Teaching styles can also vary significantly by university and it is important to also consider whether the teaching style of the university suits you as a learner before choosing which university to apply for!

Do you like more lecture-based learning as opposed to learning from seminars, discussions, and Problem Based Learning (for Medicine)? Make sure to find out about each university’s course and their method of teaching from their websites/handbooks before settling for a university just because of its reputation!

Reputation and Employment:

Granted that your educational background has somewhat of a role to play in job applications, the strength of your application isn’t entirely dependent on where you completed your degree but more on your skills and passion for the field. These are determined by various factors, including skill development, staying up to date with the industry, and gaining relevant work experience.

So, our advice on this would be to get involved with more extracurriculars! Opportunities for self-development are available at every university. Both academic and non-academic activities will provide transferable skills that will be useful in the workplace.

Student Life and Location:

As the capital of the UK, London is quite a popular destination. Therefore, many students choose to go to London universities for the fear that they might miss out on a great student life. In terms of location, other cities can be a great choice too! Picking a city that you will enjoy is important – you shouldn’t just pick London because of the hype surrounding it since you can’t be sure that you will enjoy it there!

Although London is a great city, we personally found it to be a bit too fast-paced for us and we preferred a campus that required less commuting (for most of our preclinical years at least).

So, if possible, try to go on a university tour and explore the city. Some universities also provide virtual tours so make sure to find out if this is an option. Youtubers and bloggers (like ourselves :P) sharing their experiences of studying at these universities and locations are great sources of information as well!

To sum it up…

What you get out of your university experience is entirely dependent on what you make of it! The perception that you have to go to an Oxbridge/London university or that you aren’t good if you don’t go there is entirely untrue!!! Every university has its own pros and cons so please don’t fall into the trap of dismissing one just because it isn’t as well known! We are happy at the university of our choice and don’t regret going there at all.

And that’s the end of this post! We hope that you enjoyed reading it. If you did, give our Instagram a follow and share this <3. We have more content coming up about applying to UK universities/medical school, stay tuned for that!

-Jean & Thinzar

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