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PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2018 1:23 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 05, 2015 3:42 pm
Posts: 44
DS1 currently in Year 12 at 6th form college. He is in the midst of AS exams in Computer Science, Maths, Physics and Electronics. In Year 13 he will probably drop electronics and continue with the other 3 for A level.

We are looking at uni's with entry grades of AAB - BBB, but his form tutor suggested we include one with three A's and mentioned Redbricks. I think 3 A's not likely but AS results may guide us on that one!

DS wants to work with computers and enjoys the practical aspects of programming. He has some work experience with a solutions company locally and is hoping to return there this summer. He also has plenty of extra curricular experience in the STEM area, as well as awards achieved while in secondary school. He works on his own projects at home and contributes to repositories on GitHub.

As neither myself nor DH went to university, we are finding it a steep learning curve to help DS navigate the choices out there. Because of this, we started early and had relaxed visits to 4 uni's last year. This helped to focus DS on why he was working for GCSE's and what he needed to do for A levels.

We have a "long-list" of uni's as follows:

Essex visited (home town)
Kent visited
Surrey visited
UEA visited

DS is taking maths as it is useful for computing, he is good, but not outstanding at it so we are ruling out the uni's which seem to be maths loving for comp science (Bristol, Bath), he did work hard for this GCSE and got a very strong pass.
We are definitely targeting those which offer a year in industry as he is shy and we feel the experience would benefit him.
He would prefer a more practical course rather than a theoretical one. He would prefer not to go too far from home.
Degree apprenticeships haven't been ruled out but applications for these would be early next year (I think), so uni viewing comes first.
I have spent time looking at past advice on here regarding looking at course modules, the fact that applicant days are very useful, campus v town, Russell Group uni's not always being the best option, lab time (not always easy to compare/establish) etc.

Problems are:
DS is not sure whether he prefers campus or city uni. Ones visited so far are all campus, I think Leeds would count as a city one?
Comparing courses is difficult as they all appear to offer similar subjects but just arranged slightly differently.

What we need help with please:

Planning which to visit for open days. So far he has liked all the ones we've visited (not sure if this is a good or bad thing)!

We will definitely visit Loughborough as he likes the look of the course and it is not too far from us. Also, Swansea as, although far away, I am
liking the vibe from the website regarding help with maths and (very importantly) employment.

Sheffield was to be the redbrick to visit but they have increased their entry grades for next year from AAB to AAA so now Leeds looks more
promising as they may reduce the AAA to AAB if you can demonstrate aptitude and enthusiasm for the subject, plus we have family nearby.
We were in Birmingham in Dec and DS didn't love the city.

How does it affect the course if a uni is doing a lot of research?

They all quote statistics and claim to be in the top 10 for something or other, but how can we tell what to believe?

How important is attending a RG uni with respect to a comp sci degree? There appears to be a lot of snobbery about this, I hope to ignore this as we are just trying to find somewhere he will be happy.

Some forum members appear to be "in the know" about certain uni departments and may be able to help us rule out some from our list. Some may have direct experience of the above uni's which I would love to hear about please.

I should add that he is a shy, quiet boy, not a party animal at all, but not a loner and does enjoy company.

Sorry for long post but hoping to pre-empt some member's questions and thanking you all in advance.

PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2018 2:06 pm 

Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2007 2:21 pm
Posts: 16254
You need to look at ones with lower grades too as a back-up. Somewhere like Oxford Brookes would fit what your son is looking for.
Read the list of modules carefully; some courses are very theoretical and the newer unis seem to better address employability in this area. RG is not the best for some degrees like computing.

I think a year in industry is a great idea; he might even get a job this way!

What sort of place does he want to live in? Given what you've said about him then London and a big city like Birmingham might be better avoided? Does he want a campus uni? What about halls - does he want the option of catered in the first year?

PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2018 3:02 pm 

Joined: Tue Mar 04, 2008 3:28 pm
Posts: 3030
General thoughts-

As Guest says, the traditional views on 'best' universities are pretty much irrelevant with computing courses.
I would focus on industry links of the department more than academic reputation of the University.
If he's keen on year in industry it's worth asking some searching questions about how much help they give with finding placements. It's not always easy and some departments are pretty useless.

If he's shy and less confident then do look carefully at accommodation provision both for first year and subsequently. He may not be happy somewhere that students are scattered over a wide distance. Again am with Guest on avoiding London etc.

If proximity to home is an issue then I would stick to it if there are options within your parameters. It can give them confidence knowing you can get to them easily, even if it's not needed. Feeling isolated can make them struggle. A note for the future - try to be you visiting them, especially in first term rather than letting them come home. It tends to make settling harder.

With new 2year A level courses it's more important to have a real back up offer, unless you are happy to take a year out. He should be genuinely happy with that place if his grades are a bit low on results day - don't keep an insurance that you don't want just for the sake of it.

If he's happy with his choices then don't feel pressured into applying for 'better' places with higher grade requirements. It's not actually necessary to put yourself under pressure if that's not what you want.

Apart from open days you could maybe do some visits to get a feel for areas etc. If he gives the department a call there may be someone else around he can speak to - staff or student. Just be aware that some smaller towns and obviously campus universities feel rather different out of term time!

Best wishes for his search.

PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2018 3:26 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 8:10 pm
Posts: 9235
Location: Buckinghamshire
Surrey (where I went) has a very long history of links with industry. An industrial year was a feature of virtually all their courses right from the early days when it converted from being Battersea Poly to becoming a Uni (in 1967).

It was looked down upon for a long time because of that, but then the other Unis finally got wise and realised that it was a sure-fire way to improve the employability of their students and therefore their reputation.

I had an email from Surrey the other day to say that 40% of students go on to full-time employment with their industrial year provider.

I've also sent you a PM.

PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2018 7:17 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 05, 2015 3:42 pm
Posts: 44
Thank you for replies so far, I have taken all points for now and future on board.

Guest and KB, I suspected this may be the case with respect to RG and traditional views on 'best' uni's for CS and know that some people don't even recommend following the degree route for this subject so will look bear that in mind.

All the ones we've visited so far support the year in industry and some strongly encourage it, that is why we are definitely visiting Loughborough next month.

Essex typical offer is BBB so I am hoping that we won't need to go lower than that. Swansea is AAB to BBB, which he may get offered, as he is taking relevant A level subjects, (KB it's a long way from us but I can't ignore that the dept seems to be so in tune with what we are looking for, on paper anyway). We will look at Oxford Brookes as well though as it is relatively close to us.

We'll visit Leeds as we can catch up with family and I think it will be very different to the others we have seen, so may help to rule out a city uni (or not). Maybe we won't make the trek to York or Sheffield and also rule out Exeter on distance?

I agree he doesn't want to be struggling when he gets there and will want time to work on his own projects as he does now.

Accommodation can be researched online a little but it seems it's the 2nd and last years that are difficult in this respect.

Have also be advised by a friend (who's DS ended up in clearing) to have a decent gap between first choice and insurance offers with regard to grades. Am not opposed to a gap year as long as he is working or volunteering.

Sally-Anne I will message you shortly, thank you.

Thanks again.

PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2018 7:25 pm 

Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2007 2:21 pm
Posts: 16254
Exeter is worth a visit - lovely campus and loads of accommodation. The Met office is local and the journey is not bad by train.

Their website does a virtual tour which may whet your appetite:
https://www.exeter.ac.uk/visit/campuses ... pusexeter/

PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2018 9:46 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 17, 2006 6:12 pm
Posts: 1493
Location: Birmingham
The University of Kent has a very good reputation for Computer Science and in particular excellent industry placements/links leading to good job opportunities.


I have worked with quite a couple of ex Kent University Computer Science graduates in my time in the IT industry who had some great industry placements (e.g Sun Microsystems[now Oracle], Cisco, Microsoft etc).

Another good Computer Science degree course is Newcastle


in both cases the course structure is less Maths/Numerical Algorithm based and more practical programming, web design and software engineering biased.

The key point is to choose a University and Computer Science degree course that is not too theoretical and anti proprietary software (such as Microsoft, Oracle or Cisco etc), but also one that has great Industry connections and offers good Industry placement and job prospects.

I would always encourage Undergrad Computer Science graduates to consider taking Propriety Industry based certifications(such as Cisco CNA or Microsoft MSCE etc) in their own time alongside their degree course curriculum - this will pay great dividends when it comes to looking for summer paid internships and graduate job placements. My DD got a great paid summer internship with Cisco Systems at the end of her 2nd year which led to a graduate job offer.

PostPosted: Sat May 26, 2018 7:58 am 

Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2012 12:41 pm
Posts: 10612
Location: Essex
One of DS1's friends is at Kent, doing a degree in Computer Systems Engineering rather than Computer Science, though


I think he is enjoying it (although I must admit that he is not terribly forthcoming generally on the subject of 'how Kent is' when I enquire).

Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.Groucho Marx

PostPosted: Sat May 26, 2018 8:53 am 

Joined: Mon Oct 21, 2013 8:59 pm
Posts: 6735
I'm ex Kent....the campus is much more "happening" when I was there but it combines city (at the bottom of the hill, Canterbury) with campus, (which it is), brilliantly, and students are able to live at the seaside (a shot bus ride away) , Whitstable, Herne Bay or in Canterbury itself.

PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2018 8:51 am 

Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2012 10:33 am
Posts: 243
Was thinking of asking a question on Computer Sc for my DC and found this thread.

We are sailing in the same boat as Cuddlermum with DC who is shy, not keen on partying and loves maths.

DC in year 12 going in yr 13, wants to do CS, says will not want to share dorm, and wants a single room if possible in Uni? Open days dates are coming up in June.

We will also avoid London.

How is Manchester, Durham, Birmingham, Warwick and maybe some more I dont know.

We are based in North-west? Which uni here are good ones for CS.

Prediction are not yet given but will be A*AA (Phy, Maths, Chem) with an AS in FM(self-taught) as school has no funds to give lessons.

Any experiences of DC doing CS in UK, please share. thank you

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