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Choosing A Business School

With over 100 different business schools in the UK to choose from, where do you start in narrowing down the field to the one that is best for you?

Postgraduate league tables are one answer but can give a very impersonal view. The Guardian Postgraduate league tables are a great place to start as they cover all postgraduate study. The other key one is the Financial Times Rankings for business schools which compares UK business schools with those across the world and also within Europe.

It’s not just all about league tables though. The postgraduate courses that a business school offers are vitally important for several reasons:

  • the quality of course content and how this is monitored and evaluated
  • the quality and experience of your course tutors and how you can develop your relationship with them
  • course fees
  • the types of study available
  • course completion and success rates
  • career opportunities.

A great tip is to write down the top 5 key attributes that matter to you in choosing a business school and then prioritise these in order of importance. A few questions you can ask yourself to develop your checklist are:

  • do I want to study where I took my undergraduate degree as I know the university and I feel comfortable there?
  • do I want to study full-time or do I want to continue to work and study part-time?
  • do I want to be on campus at a business school or am I happy with distance and/or online learning?
  • do I want to study near where I currently live or do I want to move or travel?
  • is the content of what I’ll study on the course the most important factor or can I compromise slightly if I can find a course with cheaper fees?

Once you’ve answered these questions you’ve hopefully narrowed down your list of business schools to choose from and this is where your more individual requirements kick in.

If you can, once you have a shortlist of 3 to 5 business schools, arrange to go and visit the campuses and talk to the tutors who you’ll be working with on you postgraduate course. Nothing beats face to face discussions and walking round the facilities to help you make up your mind which is the one for you.

It’s not all about study; what’s available for social activities and support? Are there lots of postgraduate students? Is there a vibrant and fun student life?

Ask the tutors about their style of teaching and learning and how they develop and evaluate the course content to ensure it stays relevant, timely, of high quality and innovative.

Don’t forget to ask to talk to students on your course this year or in the last couple of years to gain their first hand feedback. If this isn’t possible, it may be worth an online search on both social media and online forums for course alumni.

For all of us finances are a cornerstone of our life, but don’t be put off if your ideal course has higher fees than others; grants and scholarships, specific to postgraduate study are available if you search for them. If you’re already working, your employer may offer funds to support you to study part time.

If they do, please be aware that some employers require you to remain with them for 1-2 years after you finish your studies so that they can gain benefit from the financial contribution they’ve made to your learning.

Although you may only just have made the decision to start searching for a business school, don’t underestimate the importance of what happens after you’ve passed your course and how the business school supports you with career opportunities.

The staff at these business schools have oodles and oodles of in-depth career expertise gained over the years; ask them for advice and guidance and use their knowledge to benefit you.

Choosing a business school may seem like a daunting task but the more time and effort you commit to your research will pay off in finding your ideal course; one that offers you an awesome experience.