How to choose the right university

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We assembled a panel of education experts, who discussed The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide, as well as gave their tips and answered your questions on the process of choosing the right university.

Deciding on which universities to apply to has never been more difficult. Universities are better than ever at telling the world how wonderful they are, and with more students applying for places and running up debts that now average in excess of £50,000, your choice of course and institution is now one of life's significant financial - as well as educational - decisions. With such high stakes to play for, the value of sound, impartial advice is hard to overstate.

John and Alastair lead an evening's discussion on how to pick the right university for your children, offering tips on reading between the lines of university prospectuses, and insight into the world of university league tables. They were joined by Professor Sarah O'Hara, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education and Student Experience at the University of Nottingham and Steve McArdle, director of sixth form at Durham Johnston.

About the panel:
​John O'Leary has edited The Times Good University Guide since 1993, when it introduced the first university rankings to the UK. He is also on the advisory board for the QS World University Rankings and is a member of the Higher Education Commission.

Alastair McCall has compiled or edited all 20 editions of The Sunday Times Good University Guide and also edits the sister publication Parent Power and The Sunday Times Schools Guide. 

Professor Sarah O'Hara is Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education and Student Experience at the University of Nottingham. She has extensive experience of the admissions process and is responsible for placing students at the heart of the university.

Steve McArdle is director of sixth form at Durham Johnston. He is national chair of the Association of School & College Leaders committee on Post-16 and Higher Education, and co-chair of the UCAS Secondary Education Advisory Group.