With approximately 40,000 different courses on offer in the UK higher education sector, the choice of what to study can be difficult. Here are some tips so you can help your child make the big decision.
This may sound obvious, but they don't have to base a course choice on what they studied for their A-level or BTEC choices. Some niche courses might be just right for them. For example, we offer lighting and live event technology courses, which attract students with an interest in music or drama, but also those who studied A-level maths.
Your child should apply for a course that they have a chance of getting accepted on to. For example, if your child wants to study an engineering degree, they are likely to need a maths A-level or equivalent qualification. They may want to go to a particular university, but if they need A grades and they're predicted C grades, it's not realistic. You also need to think about this when it comes to deciding which course to accept - they need their favourite and then a realistic insurance option.
The main reason people go to university is to improve their future employment prospects. You need to check your child's course is going to make them employable. Have a look at what employability programmes are available. At the University of South Wales we have a dedicated programme called Grad Edge designed to give our graduates the edge when it comes to employment. It’s an approach that works with 94% of our graduates in employment or further study within six months of graduation, a figure well above the UK average (HESA Performance Indicator for Employment of Leavers 2013/14).
You can also check employment rates of each course, but remember that some courses, such as music or drama, will have a lower rate of graduate-level employment. You can also ask lecturers or current students at Open Days about successful graduates. Most universities should have student profiles on their website, which will give you an idea of what students have gone on to.
Meaningful work-related experience is becoming essential in today's competitive job market. At the University of South Wales, work experience and employability are so important that they are built into all of our courses. Employers want to see students with relevant experience, which is why many of our courses even have modules that focus on employability. The University of South Wales is the only university in Wales with a dedicated, central work placement team.
Many of the courses at the University of South Wales are accredited by professional industry bodies. If possible, they should consider an accredited course as this means your child is going to be taught the right skills needed in their future career.
This is very important - some courses can vary dramatically between universities. If you're child wants to study a course such as english or business, it's worth looking at exactly what they will be studying. If your child hates Shakespeare, they will need to look at a course where different texts are taught.
If their chosen university is based across several different campuses, it's worth noting where their particular course will be taught. For example, most of the University of South Wales's creative courses are taught at our Cardiff Campus, whereas computing courses are taught at our Pontypridd Campus. Each campus has a different atmosphere and you'll discover this at our Open Days.
Check the course pages on the website and prospectus to find out about assessment methods. It's no good your child applying for a course that relies heavily on exams if they are much better at coursework.
Although the fees your child pays for university cover the cost of tuition, there may be some additional costs for field trips and equipment. Check the relevant course page for further details before they apply.