There are lots of university league tables out there, and some of them are making impressive claims. And the decision you're making at the moment picking university is a massive decision. So how much should be based on league tables?

One of the things I'm asked about a lot is league tables. Now I am a firm believer that the best university for you is the one that you are going to be happiest at, not one that comes higher or lower than another one on a league table. Apart from that one, there are so many different league tables. There are so many different ones that most universities can be claiming to be the top of this one or the top five in this, top five for this, just depending on how they manipulate data. So you do need to be wary of any claim that you come across, right. You know top five in student satisfaction, top 100 in the world for this, or top 10 in the world for this. You just need to be a bit wary of these claims. In the world or university ranking, Oxford or Cambridge is going to be top, and that's going to switch depending on.

Whether it's Oxford or Cambridge at the top is going to switch depending on what year it is, exactly how the university league tables have decided to do their rankings. But those two are going to be at the top. And depending on which one you read, the league tables are generally only going to be a good indication of what is a good university, so like which ones are consistently within the top 10, which ones are consistently within the top 15, and which ones aren't so good universities, which ones are coming down in the 150s. And this will just give you a general indication as to where to start looking. But if you only use league tables to help you decide which university to apply to, you need to delve into the details. Instead of just looking at the crude where did they come in the university league tables, move over to the right a little bit and start to look at the raw data. In fact some of them you can even sort based on the different bits of data that they used to come up with that league table. I'm going to go through some of the general broad categories that most of them use. They may be called something slightly different, but most of them use these categories. They include student satisfaction. So this is based on students' opinions, students' experiences, how well the university met their expectations. How did the university live up to all they thought it was going to be? Now, this can be slightly tricky because if a student has high expectations, or a whole group of students high expectations, of a fantastic, amazing university and the university just gave them a good education, then they can rank lower. Whereas if students have really low expectations in university and they gave a good education, then they could rank higher in this one. So this one is based on opinion, students' opinion. How did they feel, what did they feel like at university? It includes something about research. This has very little impact on you as an undergraduate, since you'll be in lectures and you'll be in labs, and you generally won't be involved in actual research. This is one of the things they add in as another bit of data for the league tables. It has some indication of UCAS points, so the UCAS points you need to get in there. This can be useful, especially if you can sort the list by UCAS points. If you know how many UCAS points you're going to get based on your predicted grades, you can look at the universities in that range. Maybe you go a touch higher, go a bit lower, but it might give you some universities that you haven't thought of to go and have a look at. Financial prospects are generally in there, and this can be useful one because it tells you how many graduates got graduate-level jobs. It's not overall employment because it doesn't tell you, it doesn't take into account how many graduates got non-graduate-level jobs like working in Tesco's. It can help you determine which ones have good career services, which ones have good links for the industry. It doesn't, however, take into account the local economy or the location of the university. Student-staff ratio is another one you need to be wary of because it can look excellent on paper but doesn't give you any indication of what it's going to be like in reality. So having a low student-staff ratio where there are lots of staff available to students doesn't mean these staff are going to be available to students. Doesn't mean the staff are going to answer their emails or have office hours or be available to talk to you. You're never going to know this until you get to university. So this is one to be wary of because just because the data looks good, doesn't mean the reality is going to be good. How much money a university's spending is another bit of data you need to be wary of because they might just put a load of money into infrastructure, which as an undergraduate you will never ever see. So just because they have a lot of money to flush around doesn't mean it's going to impact you as an undergraduate in any way at all. And then it's going to include some results. So what percentage of students got a good result, a first or a two one? And again, you do need to be a touch wary about this because results are handed out by the university. There's not like a centralized exam board across the country. It is the university's decision. There is some extent of moderation, but it is generally down to university. So university may tend to hand out more if they want to ride up league tables. So league tables can give you some good information, they can give you some general information, places to go and look at, but they are a very crude tool for differentiating between one university and another university. The best thing to try and work out is the university going to be a good fit for you, are you going to be happy there, are you going to enjoy the course that you're on, are you going to want to be there for three, four, five years.

Aarav's story - How I picked my university

Admit it or not, there are a numerous universities spread crosswise countries every one of them offers diverse experiences and distinctive courses. The university you study in and pass out from would make a noteworthy part in portraying your future and the way that there are various decisions, it can confuse and make you choose the wrong choices. Choosing a university goes much past picking one that is strategically situated or offers school fees that you have the means to pay. There are numerous things to keep an eye out for to guarantee that the university is an ideal choice for you.

While trying to pick out the perfect university for myself, the first thing I was on the lookout for was the quality of education that the university offers. The quality of education provided by a university is the principal item for me and since all universities are not established to be equal, I definitely had to choose one based on some of these vital factors. There are different factors that affect the quality of education, for instance, the school curriculum, technique of lecturing and the department’s lecturers and professors. The leading universities have certified lecturers who have great years of experience and this is one of the principal reasons why these universities give the most outstanding quality of training.

Not just that, I also checked for the school facilities and accommodation because as an international student, I would need a place to stay and which would most likely be the university hostel. The facilities provided by the institution are some of the time insufficient for the number of students they admit and this can be a major concern if my academics are being disturbed due to the lack of facilities. So I made sure to look at the amenities and facilities of the school ahead of time. Always note that accommodation is an important factor, thusly the cost, access to the institution and roommates all assume a role in deciding whether or not if the accommodation would be suitable for you.

Additionally, as an international student from a not so rich background, the cost of the education is also a priority for me. The best for me would be a scholarship program and based on my research, I am amazed to say almost all universities in UK grant scholarship programs and some of them let go of the educational cost charges altogether. It is as well a great idea to find out about the scholarships you are qualified for so that you can reduce the cost of your education. The tuition fees is a main part of the total cost and getting a scholarship makes sure that the cost falls inside your financial budget. Finally, I was able to ask a few of the students of the university about the employment outlook after passing out on how simple or difficult it is when attempting to apply for a job after graduating from school. With this, I was able to get a fair feedback on future employment and I’m happy I chose the University I am today.