Don't take risks after A/Level

Act in haste - repent at leisure, so the saying goes. As London A/Level results are published this month, the relevance of this maxim has never been greater. Like a young child with birthday cash burning a hole in the pocket, many students and parents will find their way to the local agent of various UK universities, results in hand and desperate to make a last-minute application. If places can still be found at all this late in the day, (only half as many places will be available as were available last year), the pressure will be to act fast and grab whatever you can. Understandable? Perhaps. Wise? Probably not.

Selecting a course and a university are life-changing decisions and the consequences of a poor choice significant - not only in terms of cash, (though given the cost of tuition and living this is no trifle), but in personal and career terms, too. Whether the universities themselves like it to be said or not, all universities are not equal and, as consumers, we should not be averse to drawing conclusions about those which have significant numbers of vacancies at this stage of the cycle. Good employers also know the market and are inevitably influenced when recruiting new graduates by the university which awarded the degree.

The same logic should be applied to the course on offer. Should we infer that vacant places within two months of the likely course starting date means we have stumbled across a yet-to-be-discovered gem which will lead to a long, successful and financially lucrative career? That doesn't seem likely, does it? And we have not even begun to take account of practical but important matters such as the quality of the course, the standard of teaching, the facilities both academic and social, all of which contribute massively to the overall experience and value of the higher education experience.

What, then, should students and parents do, assuming they will not be content sitting around until September 2010 to transfer to a UK university?

One way to start a UK degree this autumn, without these risks, would be to study here in Sri Lanka for the NCUK International Diploma, offered by ANC Education Holdings in Colombo. This is a first year degree programme in Business, Computing or Engineering (Aerospace, Civil, Electrical and Electronic or Mechanical), with students transferring to Year 2 of their chosen discipline at a range of top UK universities next September.

And therein lies its first advantage: no time will be lost. Yet, because students choose their precise course and university at the mid-point of the year's programme, they have time to make a well-informed and considered choice from the hundreds of options at prestigious universities such as Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield.

Add to these the advantages of highly qualified and experienced UK staff, the NCUK guarantee to place successful students in one of their 11 universities, the cost-saving of studying at home compared to UK and the social benefit of spending that extra year with family and friends and it becomes quite a package. Find out more about the NCUK International Diploma by calling Sayuri (0777 66 22 55) or Kamanthi (0777 73 00 73).

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