What factors should I consider in deciding whether to transfer to another university?

I am currently studying Computer Science at Westminster University, which is ranked 100/126 in the UK, or 11/15 in London. I have been offered to transfer to Queen Mary University (same course), which is ranked 30/126 in the UK or 4/15 in London.

I am doing very well at my current university and have the time to make a little money on the side with tutoring and I'm not sure if I could continue this if I transferred.

The teaching in both universities is similar and the ranks I mentioned above are specific to the course.

  • 1
    We can't make a recommendation as we don't know your circumstances. Questions that ask what to do are off-topic here and will probably be closed. Try to rephrase your question into a more generic question about the impact of university ranking rather than specifically which you should choose.
    – Jane S
    Jul 4 '15 at 23:56
  • @KentAnderson apparently had the same idea I did at the same time :)
    – Jane S
    Jul 4 '15 at 23:56
  • I edited your title to make it more appropriate for this forum. If I have changed your intent, please feel free to update it.
    – Kent A.
    Jul 4 '15 at 23:57
  • Queen Mary is a Russell Group member
    – Pepone
    Jul 5 '15 at 12:57
  • Rankings don't mean anything after a few years in industry. Stick where you are, they mean literally nothing in the real world.
    – James
    Jul 7 '15 at 9:13

I think in this case it would be worth it - especially if you are thinking of working for a large company (large enough to have an HR dept)

QMC is part of London university so your degree (at least in my day) says University of London - ie same as Imperial or UCL.

One of the side effects of the UK's converting all polys to universities is that anywhere that isn't a top-5/Russel group is immediately tagged with, "is that a real college?" suspicion. So the HR person at a FTSE company might not know if Westminster University is a real university, a former teacher training college or an un-accredited student visa scam above a chip shop.

  • One anecdotal data point: In 2001, when I was applying to a PhD program in California, a professor told me that the fact that my 1970 bachelor's degree was from Imperial was a point in my favor. Jul 6 '15 at 18:23

Most of the people in the world who work in software/computer science/technical fields didn't go to either of the two schools you've mentioned, and most of them are still successful and happy in their work. Prestige is subjective. Some people are impressed by a name, others are not. I have worked with great and not-so-great people from prestigious and unknown schools alike.

There are more factors you should consider when choosing where to study than just rank. What does the ranking mean anyway? Who ranked them? What were the criteria?

Here are some other criteria you might consider:

  • Tuition and living costs
  • Professors/expertise available to you. Specializations may be different between colleges.
  • Quality of the teaching
  • Opportunities for internships (some schools develop relationships with specific employers)
  • Availability of scholarships/grants
  • Graduation rates, job placement rates
  • Alumni services (will there be any support, such as networking, for you when you're done?)
  • etc. You get the idea...

If both of the schools you are considering have similar programs, either will likely provide you what you need: a quality education that prepares you well for your next step.

In the end, when it comes down to it, what matter most are the knowledge and skills you will have acquired. A Westminster quicksort works the same as a Queen Mary quicksort. :)

  • This is an excellent answer. It is very true specifically for PhD. One more thing you might want to consider is the location -- nice weather, urban/remote, etc.
    – samarasa
    Jul 5 '15 at 2:39
  • Actually there is a hierarchy and a low ranked former poly is not going to be seen as good as a Russell group Uni
    – Pepone
    Jul 5 '15 at 12:56
  • @samarasa did you actually consider weather an issue?
    – maria
    Jul 6 '15 at 4:59
  • 1
    @i19: Yes. For example, in USA, between Massachusetts and California
    – samarasa
    Jul 6 '15 at 15:20
  • @samarasa - I hope you're talking about making the decision in general, rather than the OP's specific situation... as the weather at one London university is extremely similar to that at another London university!
    – AndyT
    Jul 6 '15 at 15:41

Don't know anything about the British university system and London.

Speaking as a Columbia alumn and a New Yorker, my assessment is that if a New York City employer is looking for new talent and is pressed for time, the first place that employer advertises is at Columbia. While my assessment has been accurate for decades, a new factor has entered the scene:

New York City has been a major high tech town for several years and for this reason, top quality recruitment sites such as careers.stackoverflow.com have come into their own. That and Linkedin. So Columbia does not have the monopoly on top quality recruits she used to have.

I am taking an educated guess that the situation is similar with respect to your top universities in London and that therefore, the answer I am giving applies to you. I presume that London is becoming a high tech town in view of all the invitations to meetups in London I am getting :)

  • if you don't know "anything" about the UK uni system maybe not answering might be the best thing to do - there are subtle cultural issues that you will not be aware of.
    – Pepone
    Jul 5 '15 at 12:54
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    @Pepone I am counting on possible similarities between the high tech environments of New York City and London to make my answer of some value to the OP. The OP is best placed to evaluate whether my answer is applicable to their situation, given the difference in locale. It's not only the answer, it's about how we weigh the various factors to arrive at the answer. Jul 5 '15 at 13:50

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