When many of us were planning our undergraduate degrees we probably pictured ourselves spending three years attending an ancient university, with hours spent studying in musty, historic libraries and wandering through picturesque courtyards.
However planning your postgraduate degree is a whole new ball game! Postgraduate study and where to do it is often a far more practical choice. By now you know the ups and downs of student life, and understand the importance of choosing the right course rather than opting for a course for more aesthetic reasons. The benefits of a robust education that prepares you for your future career is now more important than ever, and the recent reputation and achievements of an institution are considerations you really should look into when you’re picking your postgraduate course. And a New University could be the perfect choice for you! But what is a New University and why should you choose one?
In the UK, a New University refers to an institution that gained university status after 1992. This means that even if a college has a long history of providing postgraduate education – especially in subjects like teaching and nursing – but has only recently become a university, it will be referred to as being a New University. New Universities often concentrate on career-focused subject areas and have a strong emphasis on your future job prospects or entrepreneurial plans as opposed to the older universities that can sometimes focus more on academia. Things are changing and plenty of older universities have excellent career guidance programs, but just because an institution has offered training in the area you’re interested in for a long time, doesn't mean that it is still the best place to study it.
The career-focused mentality of New Universities means that the employment rates for their graduates are often pretty high – for example Harper Adams University. If you already have responsibilities and/or commitments, such as children, then you probably want or need to stay at home for your postgraduate study. This makes a New University a perfect choice as they often concentrate on the needs of their local economy providing well-educated workers for the local job market. For example, Robert Gordon University has many well-respected courses leading to careers in the oil industry in Aberdeen.
Don't think that the research facilities at a New University will be any less than other institutions. A number of New Universities feature in the Russell Group of leading research institutions in the UK. The niche research areas that smaller New Universities focus on mean that a New University may well excel in the small area that you are interested in. The smaller nature of many New Universities is a great advantage for postgraduate students, if only because they will be surrounded by people who are all as enthusiastic about their subject area as themselves. Being part of a smaller number of students is a brilliant way to ensure more attention from your tutors and lecturers, and you will be able to get the most out of professors who are not teaching huge classes.
There are lots of reasons why you should choose a New University. As they are mostly career focused, they will offer lots of great career opportunities – including networking – to grow and develop soft skills. Many New Universities also provide postgraduate training in courses tailored to the local economy that will encourage the student to stay put after graduation.
To put it simply, don't focus too heavily on when a university was established when you're picking your postgrad institution, as you should decide if it's the right place for you. And of course today's New Universities are the ancient institutions of the future!