In the matter of studying abroad, while the main issues may be resolved by selecting a suitable university and major, there are still some minor concerns that can be like a thorn in one’s side. Particularly, some students tend to become indecisive and easily swayed.
After all, not every good opportunity comes knocking at your door. In the UK, there are numerous social media-famous universities with high popularity and large followings, and everyone loves to apply to them. However, these universities differ from trendy cities that are currently popular. While those cities prioritize upgraded services, treating consumers well and creating a vibrant atmosphere, the same cannot be said for these social media-famous universities in the UK. Not only do they lack upgraded services, but they may even downgrade them. This is because there are so many Chinese students, and they have become accustomed to being selective, which can lead to a lack of appreciation for the student body.
Today, let’s discuss the drawbacks of some highly popular and decently ranked universities in the UK that Chinese international students eagerly send their application fees to. After all, we have praised their advantages every day, and perhaps it’s time to shed light on their flaws as well.
Southampton is the recent dark horse among universities, with undeniable social media fame and an impressive surge in QS rankings. While others may gradually climb a few spots, Southampton has made a leap of several ranks. If it were just a matter of being proud of their QS ranking, it would be one thing, but even their local REF ranking has secured them a notable position. As a dual-title champion school in recent times, they have indeed attracted a lot of attention.
Chinese students from all over the country are flocking to apply to Southampton, and true to expectations, Southampton has responded by swiftly closing applications for several majors around December. This treatment, which was unthinkable just two years ago, has been previously seen only in the case of Bristol. Southampton is pleasantly surprised by such favor. Last year, they enjoyed the benefits, and this year they are experiencing another wave of popularity.
Southampton itself is not lacking, as the university is located near London, boasting excellent air quality. Those suffering from nasal allergies find relief after spending a couple of months in this location. However, the disorderly and unorganized application behavior of Chinese international students is causing some issues.
The university has started focusing on revenue generation, expanding class sizes and increasing the number of students in various majors. While the quality of the experience hasn’t been a concern, it is now becoming precarious.
The consequences of revenue generation are evident: limited accommodation options and a shortage of faculty members unable to adequately support international students. In simple terms, the emotional support provided by supervisors to international students is lacking. Not only is it inadequate, but some supervisors even add a mocking expression, as if daring the students to challenge them. It’s quite distressing.
In addition to these characteristics, due to an excessive number of Chinese students, Southampton has tightened the admission requirements for many majors. The university itself follows a relatively lenient admission and strict academic performance policy. Of course, not all majors are the same, but this is the overall trend at Southampton. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be programs like the Winchester School frequently admitting students from less prestigious backgrounds. Southampton’s popularity stems from embracing this group of students, while other universities in the same tier have closed their doors to such students. Consequently, those who fail to secure offers from Glasgow, Birmingham, Leeds, and other universities are touched by Southampton’s gesture.
The stricter admission requirements have led to increased difficulty in graduation and tighter control over academic progress, particularly for Chinese students. Feedback suggests that the number of students failing courses and seeking appeals or make-up exams has been notably higher in the past two years. The blame can partially be attributed to the impact of COVID-19.
Glasgow, a renowned veteran among popular universities, has transitioned from being an “offer machine” to a more selective institution. Among its peer institutions, Glasgow boasts the highest reputation and follows a similar application model as Manchester and Edinburgh, where applicants undergo a round-based selection process, prioritizing the most outstanding candidates. It’s challenging to find opportunities through this model.
Glasgow has become a victim of its own popularity among Chinese international students. With one of the highest proportions of Chinese students among UK universities, it heavily relies on their tuition fees, ranking among the top three in this regard. This symbiotic relationship between the university and Chinese students has brought both achievements and occasional tensions.
This university’s expansion has had severe consequences. It is not just the business school that is overcrowded; even social sciences and education programs are filled with students vying for admission. With limited options among the QS top 100 universities, the competition for spots is intense, resulting in an overwhelming number of students applying without considering the consequences. Moreover, Glasgow, known for its attractive campus and its affinity for Chinese students, faces the challenge of accommodating the growing demand, pushing its limits to the extreme. The accommodation shortage has led to a surge in local housing prices, leaving students scrambling to secure a place to live. Desperate students who missed out on accommodation have resorted to offering twice the market price for room transfers, but to no avail. In some cases, students who failed to secure accommodation had their offers rescinded by the university, leaving them in a dire situation.
Aside from the accommodation issue, there are concerns about the university’s handling of staff resources. Many students wonder where the funds are being allocated, as it certainly does not seem to go towards improving faculty welfare. When students encounter problems, they face a bureaucratic runaround, unsure of where to seek assistance and support. The lack of guidance and mentorship is evident, and it seems that the university is more interested in evading responsibility than providing solutions. Therefore, it is advised to avoid failing courses, needing supplementary exams, or considering appeals, as these issues are unlikely to be addressed satisfactorily.
Unbelievable. That’s the word. Of course, this year has been slightly better with a reduction in expansion. Glasgow University must have realized the consequences of their reckless actions. Scaling back on their enrollment expansion has addressed some of the core issues.
Manchester University or UCL, they are quite similar, but UCL has a higher entry barrier and is considered a more prestigious institution, with fewer significant issues exposed. However, Manchester University has its own unique appeal as one of the earliest “internet-famous” universities. After all, the red of Manchester is the red of the Red Devils, the red of the red-brick university.
The popularity of this university goes beyond its QS ranking, it is also due to its alumni network, city, and overall reputation. Therefore, even if it is not ranked in the top 50, it remains an incredibly popular university. Moreover, its ranking has always been commendable, never lagging behind.
Manchester University has also expanded its enrollment, resulting in larger class sizes and insufficient faculty. While undergraduate programs may not face significant issues, the main problem lies in the master’s programs, which seem to be opened purely for revenue generation. Some courses feel uninspiring. However, even these lackluster courses are in high demand. For example, last year Manchester University had programs with a 2.2 entry requirement, but due to its soaring popularity, they were abruptly discontinued this year. For some students from non-prestigious institutions, Manchester University’s solution is not even suitable. They can only focus on social sciences or environmental studies, which is heart-wrenching.
Insufficient faculty and overzealous expansion are common problems. Manchester University handles it the same way, ignoring the buried issues. In some programs, the failure rate for Chinese students is high, leading to an increase in the dropout rate. It’s unclear whether it’s due to the students’ abilities, the teachers’ competence, or other external factors. Nonetheless, the data shows an increase in non-completion rates, and some students are required to extend their studies. Others end up wasting a year with no progress. Who should be blamed? It’s hard to say.
In conclusion, these popular “internet-famous” schools are indeed highly regarded institutions with many positive aspects. However, their popularity and large number of Chinese students can magnify certain issues, leading to potential problems. Some schools exhibit unattractive behavior, discrimination towards Chinese students, or a lack of action.
Regardless of the specific issue, when we identify a problem, our response should not be to complain about the environment or the school itself. Instead, we should focus on finding solutions and optimizing the situation to avoid falling into the same pitfalls as previous students. This is the critical aspect we need to contemplate at present.