Go Higher: Make an Informed Decision ; Choosing the Right Course Will Require Research, Be It Via Books, Open Days or the Internet. by Beryl Dixon
Dixon, Beryl, The Independent (London, England)
What do prospective students need to know in order to find that ideal course in a perfect university or college? Even though today's internet generation may prefer websites, three written resources are essential first reading.
The best starting point is University and College Entrance - The Official Guide. (Studylink Undergraduate - a multimedia database of courses with additional information from institutions on job prospects, teaching styles and comments from current students - comes free with it.)
Next come individual prospectuses. You can find reference copies in school or college, but it's best to get your own. These are especially good for information on course contents plus the facilities the institution offers - including accommodation, the cost of which will be a factor in your choice. Remember that these are the institutions' means of advertising - and therefore should not be the only method of making your final decision.
You will also need the UCAS Directory 2001 Entry. You should be able to consult a copy in school or college. This contains a list of the 336 universities and colleges in the UCAS scheme, lists of their courses and UCAS code numbers. It is also available on CD-Rom. Supplies have been sent to schools and colleges but if you would like your own, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or ring 01242 544610. (Additional paper copies are pounds 6, so try to use school ones!)
You will want some information about the quality of courses and institutions. The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) can help here. On behalf of the Higher Education Funding Councils for England, Northern Ireland and Wales, it assesses the quality of teaching by subject, under set headings (including course content, teaching, resources and student support). Similar assessments are conducted by the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council. Institutions are required to "make available" the grades that they received. Some do so by giving a summary in their prospectus; others give a contact e-mail address or telephone number which you can use to request the information. Departments that received a high grade are not usually backwards in coming forward and publish grades in its prospectus pages. You can view many of these reports on the internet.
Entry profiles are a relatively new concept and are very useful, but not all courses have them yet. Their aim is to describe the personal skills, qualities and experience you may need before starting the course and how they will be developed. …