What about student life?

Even the hardest working student isn’t likely to study for more than eight hours a day every day. That leaves two-thirds of their time spent doing other things.

Where you’ll live

A good deal of that time will be spent sleeping, of course, but even those hours should be taken into consideration when choosing the right university for you. Where you live and sleep will probably have a bigger impact on whether you enjoy being a student than what you study, at least on the level of day-to-day experiences. Around the world, different education systems and different universities have come up with different solutions to the question of how to house students. In many countries, it’s normal to live with your parents during your studies. In others, students tend to live in specialist housing that may be called ‘dorms’, ‘halls of residence’, ‘student villages’ or even ‘colleges’, depending on where you are. Often students have to find their own local housing for most, if not all, of their course. No one housing option is best for everyone, but if you’re travelling to another country to study, you’ll want to be sure your home from home feels like it.

Your free time

Even eight hours a day studying and eight hours a day sleeping, still leaves another eight hours for other stuff: for socialising, for getting paid work or professional experience, for pursuing interests or hobbies, or simply for relaxing. Many universities think of the opportunities they offer to students when they’re not studying as key advantages that they provide. For example, their sports facilities and teams may rival even the best in professional sport. Or they may have entertainment amenities like nightclubs, theatres and cinemas that any town would be proud of. Others will have activities and clubs for every possible interest from music to religion, from politics to art, and from debating to dining. In some countries and universities, however, these kinds of goings on just aren’t seen as something that the university should be involved with. Even the students don’t get together to organise it among themselves. Student life becomes a very different experience, perhaps even more fulfilling, but less focused on the university as your community. It’s worth giving plenty of thought to differences like these, because they may affect your student experience more than you imagine.

When choosing the right university for you, it’s worth asking yourself a series of questions:

  • Where am I going to live? In what kind of accommodation?
  • How will I get there?
  • How will I get around?
  • What will it cost?
  • Will I be able to get part-time work if I need it?
  • How will I spend my days?
  • What will I do for fun when I’m not studying?
  • Will I be able to pursue interests like sport, music, religion and so on?
  • What support will there be if I have problems (e.g. health, immigration, legal problems)?

How 51 can help

It’s worth giving serious thought to how your student life will be during your studies. 51 provides you with some useful comparisons on the basis of the teaching and learning measures from our exclusive survey of student opinions. For instance, you can see how students rate their facilities. However, this still isn’t the level of detail we suggest you need. To help you further, on each university’s profile (to find it, click on a university’s name), there’s a link through to the university’s own website. We also recommend that you search the web and social media for other reviews and details of what exactly the university offers. You might wish to start with our friends at Study Portals. Better than any other source though, is to visit the university in person. If you’re going to spend a few years there, surely it makes sense to spend a few hours to check the student life is what you’re really after? That’s not always possible though, which is why 51 helps you get as good a picture as possible before you pack your bags.


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