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STUDY ABROAD : Applying to University - Must read

10 Things you should really ask a university

Not sure what to ask a university? Don’t waste this opportunity! Below are some things you really should enquire about when deciding where to study abroad...

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As you may know, you can ask a university any questions which you have about them by clicking on the ‘Contact institution’ button whenever you see it on our site. This way you can begin a conversation with them; let them get to know you; and obtain all the information you need to make an informed decision about where you study.


But what should you ask?


It can be easy to simply ask about the scholarship opportunities they offer. However institutions receive hundreds of such enquiries, so your message won’t stand out. The more unique or personalised your question or enquiry, the more likely it will resonate with the university staff member who reads it; it will be something different from what they see normally. 

There are a lot of other things you should be asking. Just think of everything which you would want to know about a university you might be studying at (especially one in a completely different country from your own).

Here are some ideas to get you thinking about what you may ask...


‘Where can I live?’

Do you know what accommodation the institution offers? Is this accommodation on or off-campus? How expensive is this accommodation and what’s included? Are you guaranteed a place in on-campus accommodation in your first year? What support is there to find accommodation off-campus?


‘What’s the international student body like?’

What proportion of students currently enrolled are from overseas? What countries do these students come from? Are there many students from your own country? If so, are there any specific clubs or societies which are tailored to students from here?


‘How is the course taught?’

Is the course taught through lectures, lab work or seminars? How many students are in these classes? What is the structure of a normal lecture/seminar? Will you work independently, or with one or more students as part of group-work? How many hours can you expect to spend on campus each week? Does this include face-time with your professors in their office hours?


‘What would you study specifically on a course?’

Can you get some specific details on the material you’ll be studying i.e. specific authors or cases? How much depth would you go into? Do you get to choose the modules you take? Or is there a core curriculum which is mandatory for everyone?


‘What have previous graduates on this course gone on to do?’

Does the university have any notable alumni in your field? Perhaps someone famous who you look up to? What companies or organisations are these alumni now working for which you might be able to apply to later too? Could you get work experience with one of these companies or alongside one of these individuals? Are there any unusual paths which graduates have gone down which might not be obvious?


‘What should I study if I want to study at a higher level later?’

If you have aspirations to study at postgraduate level or a further study level, what should you study before that (i.e. at undergraduate level)? What courses does the university offer which you could study which would allow you to make this progression? Are there pathways or pre-masters courses available?


‘Can you confirm the application deadlines?’

When are these deadlines? Are there different deadlines for students from different countries? What are the deadlines for scholarship applications for these courses? What do you need to provide by this date?


‘What’s the local area like?’

Why should you study in that region? What are the main attractions? Is there much of a nightlife? How easy is it to get around by public transport? Is it a major student town, or a mix of ages and backgrounds?


‘How can the university help me find employment after I complete my course?’

Does the university have links to local, national or international industries or organisations? Are any of these in the same field as you’re studying? Is there a careers department or service on campus? Are there are opportunities to complete work experience or practical work as part of your course?


And if you really must, ask about scholarships (but ask the right way)...

Read our guide to enquiring about scholarships the correct way. Universities will respond to enquiries about scholarships; but only if they’re specific and indicate that the student is passionate about studying at that institution.


Who'll answer your questions? Watch our video of an international office in action:


Now when you find a university you're interested in on our site, you'll know what to ask!


Read more:

'6 Questions to consider when studying abroad'

'Choosing a country to study abroad in: The basics'

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About Author

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Paul Ellett is the editor for Hotcourses Abroad. His role is to plan, produce and share editorial, videos, infographics, eBooks and any other content to inform prospective and current international students about their study abroad experience. When he's not thinking about student visas in Sweden and application deadlines, Paul is an avid fan of comedy podcasts and Nicolas Cage films.

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