UCL or lesser RG uni

(62 Posts)
Confusedmum2001 Tue 18-Dec-18 14:58:40

DS offered a place in the subject he applied for at a solid RG uni but rejected from course he applied for at UCL, although they suggested he apply to a less vocational/more fluffy course at UCL instead. Does UCL always trump lesser RG unis or is the course more important when applying for graduate jobs? He’s considering management consultancy as a career.

OP’s posts: |
MariaNovella Tue 18-Dec-18 15:53:47

What course did he apply for?

MariaNovella Tue 18-Dec-18 15:54:57

If he wants Management Consultancy he needs Economics from a top ranked university.

chemenger Tue 18-Dec-18 15:56:18

Plenty of Engineering graduates join management consultants.

Biologifemini Tue 18-Dec-18 15:59:49

Management consultancy needs a strong maths-based subject these days
As long as he gets 2:1 whether it is UCL or another RG won’t matter too much.
Adding a language will help.

Leyani Tue 18-Dec-18 16:02:38

Any RG uni, but he needs to do the right course and get good grades.

BubblesBuddy Tue 18-Dec-18 16:41:25

I think UCL does trump some RG universities but it does depend on the course. Also Bath grads are better than some RG too for this career. It’s highly competitive and Engineering, Maths and Economics stand out as good degrees to have and probably a Masters too.

What is the fluffy course and what does he really want? Where has he been offered a place?


Needmoresleep Tue 18-Dec-18 17:45:43

What subject?

If economics, then you should be aware that the UCL degree is notoriously mathematical (along with those from LSE, Warwick and Cambridge). It is also very oversubscribed.

DS did a similar degree at LSE and some of his coursemates found the compulsory maths courses very heavy going and might have been happier/better off on "fluffier" courses. (If UCL does fluffy courses.)

Without being expert,

1. I very much doubt you need to do economics to go into management consultancy
2. Taking a very quantitative economics course did help DS, but he was always much more interested in maths than writing. An employer looking for a mathmo type economist would probably be focussing on graduates from the four courses mentioned and DS' coursemates landed some very impressive consultancy jobs. But an employer looking for a broader skill set might equally look at other courses, Oxford's PPE say and a range of RG Universities. .
3. It is quite usual for anyone wanting to be an economist to take a Masters, so it is fine to do a first degree elsewhere and then move to UCL or LSE.
4. UCL, LSE, Warwick and Cambridge are all so oversubscribed that the advice given to DS was to apply to all four and accept any offer you get. And this was with a 4A* prediction including FM. He got one, after waiting almost till Easter. Someone else he knew got none, but then, with achieved grades, was offered Cambridge on reapplication - though not LSE. We had not expected it to be as competitive as it was.

The really important thing, wherever he gets a place, is to go to as many networking/career events as he can and to apply for internships early. End of first year internships need to be applied for in the first term, though the end of second year ones are more important.

NicoAndTheNiners Tue 18-Dec-18 17:54:46

The course is far more important. You need to compare stuff like value added score, attrition rates, student satisfaction scores, degree results. Rg is fairly meaningless.

user2222018 Tue 18-Dec-18 18:43:40

You need to compare stuff like value added score, attrition rates, student satisfaction scores, degree results. Rg is fairly meaningless.

RG may be meaningless, but so are student satisfaction (often inversely correlated with course difficulty), value added score (made up by league tables), attrition rates (closely correlated with socio economic backgrounds of students).

NicoAndTheNiners Tue 18-Dec-18 18:45:59

Hmmm, I do agree that some of those things are arguable but I'd give them more weight than a RG status. Of course the most important thing is the person actually wants to do the course they're on, not just accept one because it's at what's perceived to be a good uni.

I'm not sure how you can say that value added scores are made up though.

user2222018 Tue 18-Dec-18 18:48:13

Could you explain to me how, for example, the Guardian calculates its value added score? What is the algorithm?

BubblesBuddy Tue 18-Dec-18 19:14:39

Top employers don’t give a fig about student satisfaction, value added and drop out rates. The top employers just don’t recruit much from a broad range of universities so that info is irrelevant. They recruit people with top A levels who have done challenging courses.

They recruit, mostly, but not exclusively from a narrow field. Definitely not just 4 universities. If you want a top management consultancy job, it’s a bit like any competitive field, you do the best course at the best university that has a track record in that subject. If you do Engineering at imperial, that’s great. The same degree at a former college of higher education won’t have the same status. Always go for internships and vacation schemes. They can lift you up if the university isn’t top drawer. The employer gets to see how you perform first hand. So it’s not all negative but it means you have to do well in other ways.

Needmoresleep Tue 18-Dec-18 19:16:36

Nico, in the Guardian rankings UCL came 24th for Economics and LSE came 25th.

Employers wanting to hire specialist economists would place both over, say, Portsmouth - which came 9th.

Course content. The doors the degree opens. Whether you actively want London or not.

Lots of things. But not necessarily "student satisfaction".

Also Value added. Many accepted onto the UCL economics course will have A* Further Maths. The cohort may not have as much value added as the cohort at Portsmouth, but they will emerge with stronger technical skills.

user1499173618 Tue 18-Dec-18 19:24:19

Two of our DCs have read Economics at both UG and Masters. Both did internships in management consultancy as well as in finance (asset management, M&A, private debt...). One of them has several friends from his Finance and Economics Masters working in top 3 management consultancies in London. They all read Economics at UG bar one who read Engineering.

eleventybillion Tue 18-Dec-18 19:32:57

I’m a management consultant (and oddly enough have a STEM degree from UCL). We definitely don’t limit ourselves to economics degrees or RG universities. In fact you don’t always need a degree


Disclaimer: I don’t work for PWC

Needmoresleep Tue 18-Dec-18 19:46:34


but if you are taking a degree it is worth knowing in advance that places on training schemes like PWCs are hugely competitive, so you line up as many skittles as you can.

Bubbles also, thank you for correcting me. My experience is observation only, but it did appear that those with strong econometric type skills were at an advantage when it came to the more specialist economic consultancies. Useful to know that is not the case.

Kintan Tue 18-Dec-18 19:50:48

I don’t think UCL really do many ‘fluffy’ courses so might be worth considering the option they have suggested. But without more details it’s a little hard to advise. Is he planning to work internationally - UCL is pretty well known and thought of world-wide whereas other RG universities might not be.

Confusedmum2001 Tue 18-Dec-18 21:29:39

Thanks for all your responses. Unfortunately, he is not taking further maths so was restricted in which economics courses he could apply to. His offer at RG uni is a mostly economics course, the UCL course is a BSc but more social science without any economics.
Sorry for being a bit vague but don’t want to ‘out’ him.

OP’s posts: |
eleventybillion Tue 18-Dec-18 22:34:46

Good point sleep. I didn’t mean to imply it wasn’t a highly competitive and tough profession to get it into.

Confused my advice would be to do the course he wants to do and shine at it. Some really good advice upthread at looking for internships if he’s serious at management consultancy. We take an industrial placement student every year in my practice and they are always brilliant and always highly sought after once they finish their degree.

NicoAndTheNiners Tue 18-Dec-18 23:05:07

Well of course employers don't care about drop out rates, student satisfaction, etc.

However the individual student who enrolls on the course is more likely to complete the course and quite possibly achieve a better class of degree if they're happy with good teaching........that's what the employer will care about.

I believe that value added score takes into account the ucas points an individual student enters the programme with and the degree classification they end up with. Add up these stats for all students on the course and you have a value added score.

NicoAndTheNiners Tue 18-Dec-18 23:07:23

But I agree you have to look at value added in conjunction with the average ucas points on entry as a course with a high average ucas point entry may have a lower value added score. Similar to the reason why grammar schools may have a lower value added score than comps.

MistressFunbox Tue 18-Dec-18 23:16:57

Think about the living situation as well. Does he desperately want to be in London or is the other uni in adifferent setting that appeals to him. London is expensive and doesn't suit every student. Happy students get better grades. He should visit both and see how he feels.

Also if he gets good grades he should be prepared to do some cheeky calling in clearing and see if a space might have opened up for him.

If he accepts UCL he is likely to still be able to argue into his other option with results in hand.

Phphion Wed 19-Dec-18 07:32:05

While you can get into management consultancy with any degree from any university, it is the case that the top firms put considerably more effort and resources into recruiting from some universities than others because they are where they take most of their graduate trainees from.

The university where I work is one of the top target institutions for management consultancy, investment banking, etc., and the amount of branding these firms have on campus is enormous. They sponsor anything, whether it is a professorship, a seminar series or a bike rack, and pay a considerable amount of money to get special stalls at careers fairs, etc. UCL would be another top target, but a "lesser" RG might be too. If the RG university is a top target, you will probably see evidence of this around the campus or by looking on the management consultancies websites - where do they visit a lot, where do their staff have degrees from, etc. or on the careers service website of the university.

titchy Wed 19-Dec-18 08:01:19

I believe that value added score takes into account the ucas points an individual student enters the programme with and the degree classification they end up with.

Except it doesn't. Which I think is user222's point - people put importance on things like league tables, value added, without knowing what they actually are!

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