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Attending university in UK or Ireland

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Apr 17th, 2012, 08:21 AM
  #1
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Attending university in UK or Ireland

My youngest has expressed interest in attending univerisity in either Ireland or the UK. She's looking into University of Edinburgh, St. Andrews and Trinity and plans to be an economics major. She is an American, qualifies for Irish citizenship (though hasn't applied) and would spend the entire 4 years of her undergraduate life there. She wants to do more than just a semester or two abroad. Can anyone provide any feedback of any nature? Or suggest websites to look at ? We've read as much as we can on the school's own websites and wikipedia.

It's hard to assess what kind of experience she should expect or to evaluate the comparitive quality of the education between the schools, so any comment would be appreciated. She's only a sophomore so we have plenty of time to evaluate how realistic this idea might be.
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Apr 17th, 2012, 08:58 AM
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One concern might be the cost. When I attended grauate school in London back in the Dark Ages, tuition was very reasonable. Recently I looked up the cost nowadays, and it is out of sight. And, then there are the living expenses, not inconsiderable. I have an Irish passport, but one would have to prove paying taxes there for a number of years in order to qualify for resident or EU tuition. Good luck !
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Apr 17th, 2012, 09:05 AM
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Bedar thank you for your response and that is a good point. We have checked into tuition, fees and room/board for an international student. While it is high, it actually is more reasonable than most 4 year private schools in the US. We won't attempt to gain residency/EU tuition. Even with the cost of travel to return home for holidays, the schools seem to be less expensive. An Irish passport may only help with possible visa issues if she is admitted to Trinity. My limited research indicates that she shouldn't have a problem with obtaining a visa for the UK.
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Apr 17th, 2012, 09:08 AM
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You could try one of the different comparison guides such as the Times or the Guardian's listings. There are other more student-focussed guides and rating systems such as the PUSH guide.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/universityguide
http://extras.thetimes.co.uk/public/..._guide_landing
http://www.push.co.uk

They won't cover Trinity College Dublin since it's not in the UK, but this may be of interest:
http://9thlevel.ie/news-and-discussi...sity-rankings/

Edinburgh and St Andrew's are likely to have student guides published by their own students, as well as the official ones - you could try searching for those or student messageboards.

They're all respectable and traditional universities with a long history, but the social experience will certainly be different as between the big cities (Edinburgh and Dublin) and St Andrews.

In the last major national assessment of staff research in economics, the average ratings for staff at both Edinburgh and St Andrews came in roughly around the middle (Edinburgh some way ahead of St Andrews); that's not necessarily a guide to the quality of the total educational experience, but it might suggest they're neither particularly innovative or cutting-edge. But that was some years ago.

One point to bear in mind: AFAIK (I used to work at this about fifteen years ago, but I don't know if things have changed since), having EU citizenship (through Ireland or anywhere else) makes no difference to whether or not a student pays fees at the overseas student rate in the UK - that goes with residence in the EU, which your daughter would not be able to establish.
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Apr 17th, 2012, 09:16 AM
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The University of St. Andrews is a wonderful school. Our daughter has spent all four years studying there and will graduate in June. There is a large population of American students, along with a sizeable international student body and of course, UK students. The town is charming and most students walk everywhere. There is no need for a car. First-year students often stay in residence halls (dorms) and then often rent a flat with several others for the remaining years. Classes are small and the experience is quite different from the U.S. It may vary by course of study, but there is usually a lot of independent research, a lot of reading and a lot of writing. There is a vibrant social life with activities for just about any interest. The quality of education is outstanding, along with the opportunity to see how students from other nations view the world. The only drawbacks are the amount of travel involved to and from the United States and, depending on where you are from, possibly the weather. It is also quite expensive. Good luck!
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Apr 17th, 2012, 09:36 AM
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Thank you all for your great responses. All very helpful. The rankings for economics are interesting. While I would love for her to attend Oxford or Cambridge, I am not sure she would be accepted - she's an excellent student, top 5% of her class, but ...
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Apr 17th, 2012, 09:46 AM
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I'm sure you've started to look into this but the educational experience is m uch different in UK/Ireland than in US universities. And the students come with a much differnt educational background - not necessarily better - but differnt.

As you know in US schools students are ususaly required to taek a wide variety of courses and generally don't do theses or oral exams as undergraduates. Not sure of the specific differences - but it could be demanding in unexpected ways. Strongly suggest a week or so visit to at least one of hte schools in question before making a final decision.

(A relative of mine spendt a year in Endinburgh and loved it - but it was her junior year and she was already well into her major subject.)
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Apr 17th, 2012, 09:55 AM
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Our daughter also spent her undergraduate years at St Andrews, and loved it. She got her graduate degree at Edinburgh, and though she loved the city, she felt the quality of teaching was not as good as at St Andrews. Our daughter just got her post study work visa. I am afraid we may lose her to the UK-- after all that is where she is at home, and where her friends are. Be warned. Luckily it is a great place to visit.
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Apr 17th, 2012, 10:27 AM
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Patrick's ratings (which I don't have time to check) were for staff research, not for undergraduate tuition so not really relevant to the OP's situation. St Andrews has an enviable reputation and is one of the most over-subscribed universities in the UK. Edinburgh is also very popular and highly regarded (though writing as a St Andrean, it hurts me to type that )
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Apr 17th, 2012, 10:29 AM
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Bennie

My wife was Oxford some years ago.

It is still absolutely if your face fits.

Everyone applying has to achieve a certain level of academic standard. This comes in the form of the entrance exam and a required attained level of external exam results. There is no point applying unless a student feels that they are capable of achieving that standard.

After that entrance is down to your socio/economic/cultural background and the interview.

It is a crying shame that many students apply to certain colleges when the odds are stacked against them before they even apply. certain colleges prefer an intake from certain geographic or social backgrounds.

Look at the educational background of much of the current British government, there are some common themes.

It is always worth your daughter applying but make sure you stack the odds in her favour.

Greatest achievement anyone could hope for, in my very humble opinion.
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Apr 17th, 2012, 10:33 AM
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I would agree with the thoughts above.

St Andrews is a very solid choice both academically and in terms of a social experience.
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Apr 17th, 2012, 10:57 AM
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DickieG - I get all that, which is why I wouldn't encourage her applying. She's a typical small town all-American kind of girl (albeit with a huge interest in the big world out there) and I sincerely doubt the powers that be at those institutions have any interest in her socio/economic/geographic background, regardless of her academic prowness.

DDA- I appreciate your viewpoint. It will come as no surprise to find our daughters living far from home. Wanderlust seems to be part of our DNA. She is only the 2nd generation in the US and it wouldn't be a big deal for her to end up backwhere her grandparents started.

All of the responses are so helpful - good questions to consider. This is exactly the type of feedback I was hoping for from Fodorites. Thank you.
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Apr 17th, 2012, 11:00 AM
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DickieG - my response was regarding Oxford and Cambridge - your second post came in while I was considering your first. Sincere thanks for your input.
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Apr 17th, 2012, 11:00 AM
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I will not name names but certain college exist for small town students.

My wife rode on the back of it and it was a major factor in her successful application.
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Apr 17th, 2012, 11:06 AM
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Since her primary goal seems to be an outstanding (and internationally recognized) education in economics, have you checked out LSE?
While any potential UK employer's HR department may be very familiar with what a degree from uni A vs uni B is "worth", I assume that your daughter will need the recognition of her achievements probably from a potential employer in the US. And i would not bet my life on it that every HR department in an economics-related company will be able to say if a degree from Edinburgh was far more valuable than one from Berkeley or vice versa.
Maybe you have some friends in relevant positions like a recruiter or senior HR staff stateside who can give you some guidance on this issue.
So besides Oxbridge I would not know any other school or uni that was so much a well-reputed worldwide household name in the field of economics than LSE.
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Apr 17th, 2012, 11:33 AM
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Cowboy1968 - excellent points! The problem (in her mind) with LSE is that it's in London and she wanted a smaller city/town experience. Granted she is only 16 and will change her mind 12 times before a final decision is made. LSE would be first on my list for grad school for her but one step at a time.

I love your idea of seeking guidance from recruiters. I think I can arrange that.

So much to conser and it's still a long way off. Thanks again for all input.
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Apr 17th, 2012, 11:36 AM
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It used to be more difficult to get into LSE than Oxford to read economics but times change.
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Apr 17th, 2012, 11:50 AM
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In addition, don't forget that if she were not to finish her course there and were to return to the US, there would be the issue of obtaining credit for her time there. The credits system that we have here is not extant there.
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Apr 17th, 2012, 01:04 PM
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I would be sure to come to the UK prior to making the decision to see these places in person. Once she compares London to Edinburgh to st Andrews she may feel differently. I am sure it would make a great and interesting trip!
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Apr 17th, 2012, 01:38 PM
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An Irish passport may only help with possible visa issues if she is admitted to Trinity. My limited research indicates that she shouldn't have a problem with obtaining a visa for the UK.

With an Irish passport she wouldn't need a visa for the UK - or for anywhere else in the EEA (EU plus a few other countries). She'd also have the right to live and work anywhere in the EEA for the rest of her life without the restrictions that a visa would place on her.

Irish citizenship won't however help with the fees as paying the local rate is dependent on residency, not citizenship.
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