British Education Exhibitions provide an excellent opportunity to make an informed choice on where to study in the UK. However, attending a British Exhibition should not be viewed as the first step to choosing a university. You must carry out research before you attend the event.

An average exhibition will have representatives from over 100 institutions and will normally be busy, with many people wanting to speak to the various representatives. You need to ensure that you leave the exhibition with the necessary information to make an informed choice on your destination. This article looks at the steps you should take before you attend an education exhibition and offers advice on how to get the most from the event.


What sources are available to you?
The secret to success is to decide on exactly what you are looking for in a UK university well before you attend an exhibition. This step is probably more important than any other stage during the decision making process. There are many ways of doing this but the easiest is to make a list of the key questions you want to consider when choosing a university or course and try to determine the factors that will be important when you make the final decision. Here are some examples:

• What is the main subject(s) you want to focus on? How important is each of the subjects in the general area? If you want to study business, do you want to take a general programme of study or specialise in specific areas such as marketing, international business, human resource management?

• Are you looking for a taught course or research programme? What types of teaching and assessment methods suit your type of learning? In the UK most courses combine a range of teaching methods such as lectures, seminars, tutorials, laboratory sessions, field trips and work placements. Universities vary in how they assess students. Some universities use exams, others course work or more commonly a mixture of exams and course work.

• Are you looking for a university that has research activity in your area of study? Do you want to attend a university that has performed well in the UK Research Assessment Exercise (RAE)? Do you know how to get access to the information? If not, search the Internet or contact your Local British Council office or a UK university to find out.

• Is there a particular member of staff you would like to work with? This will apply to more students interested in research programmes than those interested in taught courses.

• Does it matter where the university is located? Do you have friends or family living in the UK? Do you want to live with them or be within travelling distance? Do you want to live in a large city, small town or in the countryside? Do you want to attend a campus university?

• Do you want the university to have any special facilities for postgraduate students, such guaranteed residential accommodation, family accommodation, pre-sessional English language classes, a graduate school or 24-hour computing facilities?

• How important is cost to your decision? Is there an upper limit on how much you can afford on overseas education?

Some factors will be more important than others. You will need to list them in order of priority and state what you are looking for beside each one. Remove any factors that are not important but do not forget to add any which are important and not listed opposite.

Decide on which university stands to visit at the exhibition
The next step is to find out which universities will be represented at the exhibition. You will be able to get this information from the exhibition organisers. Once you have identified the factors to take into consideration when making your choice, you can identify the universities that meet your requirements. If you visit your local British Council office, or even your university library, you should be able to get access to information that will help with the selection. Start by identifying the universities that offer the subject in which you are interested. Check to see if they offer taught and /or research programmes. Start looking at the content of programmes and find out more about the universities. This process takes a long time and you must be prepared to spend a few days going thorough the information to identify the universities that meet your requirements.

How to get the most from the time you spend at the exhibition
Once you have identified the stands you would like to visit, you should prepare a list of questions to ask the various university representatives. Think about the key information you need to know and the questions that have not been answered when you carried out your research. Some of the key points to seek clarification on are the length of the programme, entrance requirements, tuition fees, living costs and availability of residential accommodation. Write down the answers to each of the questions. Once you leave the exhibition, it can often be difficult to remember the responses given by each of the representatives.

Get a copy of the postgraduate prospectus from each university and/or any extra information they have on your chosen subject area. If the university does not have any prospectuses left, leave your name and address to the exhibition. This will ensure you do not waste time writing down your contact details for each university.

Once you have visited all the universities on your list, look at the rest of the stands. In addition to other universities, there may be representatives from the British Council, British Embassy or High Commission, local sponsorship bodies and travel companies. It is always worth visiting these stands to see if they can provide any useful information.

Education exhibitions provide access to information and answers to questions that may not be given in education guidebooks, university prospectuses or on the Internet. However, they are often very busy events and to get the most out of them you must be prepared. Good preparation will ensure that you leave the exhibition with all the information you require to make an informed choice.
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