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STUDY ABROAD : Destination Guides - Must read

What is a university prospectus?

A university prospectus provides you with a great overview of an institution and what’s on offer. We take a closer look at this useful student resource.

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Part of the package of being an international student is spending time researching and evaluating your university options. You’ll be looking for the most up to date information on courses, degrees, fees, accommodation and everything you can expect at a particular university. It’s good to have all of this information in one document, which is why a university prospectus is important. We explore what a university prospectus is, why they’re important and how you can use one effectively.


Why is a university prospectus important?


You may be wondering what makes a university prospectus important, or how it differs from a university website? A prospectus stands out in that it is a single, focused and detailed document incorporating all of the essential information you need as a student. You won’t have to spend hours online searching for or sourcing the details to get a comprehensive picture of your potential university.


A university prospectus aims to be easily navigable, accessible, and accurate. A prospectus will be indexed for ease of use and provides the most detail for courses, programmes and degrees. A bonus is the listing, of course, degree and subject codes which are extremely useful during the application process. Prospectuses should reflect the most up to date academic information and university profile.


If you’re searching for a university, you may find downloading a prospectus helpful.


What information is in a university prospectus?


A university prospectus is a comprehensive profile for an institution. Many prospectuses contain a vast amount of information, not all of which may be of interest. The information may differ slightly between institutions as well. However, you can expect a reasonable amount of consistency to the themes and topics in a prospectus.


The main areas covered in a university prospectus are:



Some prospectuses will also cover notable staff, students, alumni and research. You could also find out information about student life, including clubs and societies.


Explore more about how to get your university application right.


What makes a good university prospectus?


There are a few things to look out for when viewing a prospectus. A good university prospectus should be designed so that reading and accessing information is easy. Ideally, it should have both text and relevant images, with clearly marked sections and an index. A good prospectus always provides directions to additional resources or contact information.


A prospectus should be a good mix between the practical requirements of studying at a university, such as entry requirements, procedures, regulations, dates and giving you a sense of what it is like to study at the institution. Some information on student lifestyle and university culture is a good way to set the scene for a prospective student.  


Sometimes you want to have a clear summary of the key aspects of an institution. This summary is what sets a good prospectus apart. Seeing the overarching picture including enrolment figures, staff to student ratio, acceptance rates, degree completion rates, graduate outcomes, and international student community figures is always useful.


Discover how to compare universities.


How do you use a university prospectus?


A university prospectus allows you to evaluate a university’s offering and decide if this aligns with your goals and ambitions. By consulting numerous prospectuses, you can also compare potential universities, making up a pros and cons list for each. When used in conjunction with university rankings, league tables and student reviews a prospectus can help you get a balanced view of a university.


The easiest way to use a prospectus is to have a general idea of what your priorities are. Is it the prestige of the degree and institution? Or is a good student experience more important for you? For example, if you want to pursue a degree in biomedical engineering, you would use a prospectus to find out if the degree is offered and what the entry requirements are. Then you would investigate application procedures and rules and perhaps if there are any scholarships available. The prospectus would also point you in the right direction of who you need to contact. 


Where can you get a university prospectus?


A university prospectus is not as hard to get hold of as you may imagine. You’re able to download digital copies of a prospectus from many university websites. Sometimes you will need to request a prospectus providing some details, such as your name and email address.


If you prefer to have a printed version of the prospectus you do have this option. Unless you’re travelling to a university campus, where you can pick one up, ordering the printed copy may take a bit longer than the digital version. Don’t forget that you can also download prospectuses for universities right here in Hotcourses Abroad.


How many prospectuses should you have?


The short answer is as many as you want. However, collecting prospectuses for the sake of it isn’t the best strategy. Prioritise universities that you are interested in and offering the degree or course you want to study. Getting a sense of entry requirements for different universities can help you in your selection process.


It’s good to aim high, so requesting prospectuses from universities with high entry requirements can be motivating and a great way to set goals. It could even be an Ivy League or Russell Group institution. Give some thought to the type of student lifestyle you would like to have. Location becomes important in this case and a prospectus can give you a great idea of what’s on offer.


To conclude, a university prospectus is an indispensable component of your research toolbox that can help you make an informed choice on your study path. If you want to do some more research, you could find our analysis of the QS World University Rankings 2022 useful, so to our insight into the Complete University Guide Tables 2022. If you want to find out if you meet the entry requirements for a particular university or course you can use our Course Matcher tool.


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