University of Glasgow Arches

Choosing an institution

All UK educational institutions have their different strengths. Your job is to find the school, college or university whose strengths most closely match all your needs

Where to study

When choosing an institution, you need to consider what you really want to get from studying in the UK.

Doing some research and asking lots of questions will be important. Don’t limit yourself and the opportunities open to you by only applying to colleges you already know about, perhaps because other people have attended them.

To help you decide where you should study, you might want to consider asking yourself and others some of the questions detailed below.


Obviously the study programme you choose is vitally important. You should be interested in the subject but also feel comfortable with how you will be assessed.

  • Are you looking to do a study abroad programme, a pre-degree course, an undergraduate degree or a graduate programme
  • What types of courses are available at different institutions?
  • What teaching methods will be used on your course?
  • How will your progress be assessed?
  • Will your qualification be recognised by employers in your country?
  • What options are there for paying your fees?
  • If a private institution, is it accredited by reputable bodies?

Number of students

You will need a good standard of English at whichever institution you choose – check with each university or college to find out what IELTS score they require for entry onto their courses.

You may feel more comfortable at a smaller, more intimate institution, or you may want to be surrounded by many people from a range of cultures. Ask yourself:

  • How many students are there at the institution?
  • What is the proportion of international students?


The place you live is also very important – if you are prone to homesickness, for example, don’t move to a small, isolated town!

Consider what you want from your surroundings.

  • What kind of town or city is it?
  • How does the cost of living compare with other parts of the UK?
  • How easy is it to travel around the UK from where you’ll be living?
  • Will you be able to get accommodation close to the college?
  • What kind of accommodation would you prefer?

Facilities and support

You may seek various forms of support during your stay, and it’s important to know where to find it.

  • Is there a career centre where someone will be able to help you with getting part-time work?
  • Are there any part-time job opportunities for students at the college itself?
  • What sports will you be able to play at the college or locally?
  • What social events are there for students?
  • Will you receive free counselling if you need it?

Orientation on arrival

You don’t want to feel lost as soon as you arrive in the UK. It is up to your institution to provide you with adequate support throughout your stay.

  • Will anyone meet you when you arrive in the UK?
  • Will the institution provide help and advice when you first arrive?


Some institutions offer internships as well as study programmes.

  • Is an internship important for you, and does the institution offer such schemes?

Open days

If you are undecided, and if it’s possible, go and take a look yourself. Open days are a great way to visit a college campus and have a good look around. Although colleges will be on their best behaviour for that day, there will be lots of tutors and advisers around, so feel free to ask as many questions as you can.

Open days are usually held in quiet periods of the year, such as the summer so campuses tend to be quieter than they would be during term time. Still, it’s a good chance to see if you like the college and could see yourself fitting in there.

See our listing of open days at UK universities to find out about upcoming open days for prospective students.

Some university websites have ‘virtual tours’ which can give you a taste of the campus without you having to visit in person. Check out our A–Z of UK universities and university colleges where you can take some virtual tours.

See Choosing a course for advice on selecting a study programme in the UK.

See Applying for courses to find out how to make an application for your chosen course.

Image credit: Jaime Pharr