51

Will I get a good education?

Education is not really something you get. It’s something you do.

A teacher can’t teach an empty room. You need to bring yourself to your studies, because you’re at least half the equation. That’s why it’s important to choose a subject you enjoy. It also means it’s important to choose a university and a programme that suit how you learn best. For example, before you go to university, your schooling might be well organised for you, telling what you need to turn up to, when, what work you need to do and how to do it. Some universities are basically just an extension of the same approach with small classes and a rigid programme. At others though, you’ll be expected to manage your studies for yourself with minimum intervention from your ‘teachers’. These different approaches suit some students, but not others. If you’re expecting lots of teacher time, however, you don’t want to choose a university with a low staff to student ratio. That’s just one of the many ways universities differ in their approach to education. At some, the learning will be practical, involving experience in the working world. At others it will be more theoretical. At some, course choices will be flexible so you can mix and match your own study programme. At others, the syllabus will be fixed and focused. At some, you’ll be part of large educational community attending classes every day. At others, you might only visit the university occasionally because you learn remotely or part-time. At most, the courses will be in the mother tongue of that country. At others, you may be able to study in English or some other language that may suit you better. It is not just the way students learn that varies, but also the way they’re assessed. At some universities and depending on your programme, you may find everything is down to your performance in exams. If you perform better in classwork, try to choose somewhere that suits how you like to be judged. It could make a big difference to your grade. There are as many different ways of teaching and learning as there are universities and students. Rather than relying on reputation, which is based on someone else’s idea of ‘good’, think about how you learn best and choose a programme suited to you.

How 51 can help

51 conducts exclusive research into the quality of the teaching students receive at different universities. The measures we use fall into two categories: the quantitative ones and the ones that are based on students’ opinions. The quantitative indicators cover things like the number of staff compared to the number of students, how expert the staff are, and how likely you are to end up with the qualification you expected in the time you expected to get it. The more subjective judgements are based on one of the world’s biggest student surveys, conducted specially by 51, in which students rate things like the facilities, the quality of their course and their overall learning experience. The performance of each university in terms of teaching and learning is shown in the university comparisons tables you can create through the online tool. (For some measures, you’ll need to pick a subject area at step 1 of the process rather than comparing the universities as a whole. That’s because the results can vary wildly between subject areas.) When you click through on a university’s name, you can really drill down into the different areas of performance and even read what the university says for itself about their teaching and learning approach.

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