The geeks guide to university life


If you are reading this, you are probably a self-proclaimed geek who wants to find exciting new computer science prospects in your home country or other parts of the world. Maybe you’re computer science obsessed, so much so that you struggle to choose between all the fantastic universities worldwide. We at Cybernews Academy hear you, and we want to make your prospective university experience as easy and painless as possible. Our journalists have constructed a geeks guide to computing degrees, facilities, and university life.

Let’s get the boring stuff out of the way and quickly gloss over what countries offer the best university degrees by looking at QS World University Rankings by Subject.

Schools across the globe

There are 20 countries in the QS top 100 for computer science and information systems. These countries hold some of the best Computer Science and Information System degrees. These countries include the United States, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, India, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Singapore, Spain, and South Korea.

The majority of the highest-placing universities in the world come from North America, as the country has 19 universities that rank between #1 and #98. These universities range from Ivy League universities to institutions like MIT and Carnegie Mellon. The continent of Asia has 21 universities offering the best computer science and information system courses. China has 8 universities, India with 5, South Korea with 3, and Malaysia, Taiwan, and Japan have 1 highly-ranked university each. The U.K. has 8 universities that offer unique computer science courses. Some familiar names include Cambridge and Oxford, alongside other universities in and around London. Canada has five high-ranking universities in separate locations around the country. And finally, Ireland and Singapore have 1 university that ranks in the top 100 on QS subject rankings for computer science and information systems.

While conducting our research, Cybernews Academy found some of the most interesting elements of university life to help you make your decision surrounding your dream university.

Features to focus on

So, how do you decide who is the best when you’re forced to pick a few universities out of hundreds? Our journalists at Cybernews Academy have detailed some of the features of institutions across the globe to help you understand what you want from your university experience.

Courses and structure

North American universities offer a range of majors and minors in computer science and information systems. Majors are your main form of study, and minors are your secondary specializations. In most North American universities, you can also complete concentrations. These narrower fields of study allow you to customize your learning process and explore your specialization on a deeper level. Concentrations are an alternative track within your major, accounting for roughly 30% of your major requirements. This way, you can explore more of your course without being tied to a particular path. If you’re looking for a flexible approach to learning and want to explore the depth and breadth of your discipline, a university degree in North America is a viable option. This approach to learning is different from the U.K., as computer science courses will often follow a modular process where you choose your degree and learn on a set path. If you want to complete focused modules where you know you’re getting all the information you need, a U.K. university might be right for you. The United States and the United Kingdom offer a range of computer science courses that touch on many different disciplines within computer science and information systems. There are interdisciplinary degrees available such as Computer Science with Artificial Intelligence or Ethical Hacking and Cybersecurity courses. There are also multidisciplinary degrees such as Computer Science and Engineering or Computer Science with Philosophy.

Singapore universities like the National University of Singapore offer diverse subjects, including Double Majors, Special Programmes, and Minors. A double major lets you study two bachelor's or master’s degrees simultaneously, which means you will graduate with two qualifications. Universities in Asia often have rigorous academic programs that include many theoretical investigations. In contrast, other universities will combine theoretical and practical elements in their courses to give you a broader scope and help you develop professional skills while working. One fantastic course that Cybernews Academy came across and couldn’t resist dropping is the Esports undergraduate program at Temple University (Japan campus.) This allows you to learn about the subject while competing and interacting with others through video games.

Faculty

You will meet a range of distinguished professionals in the form of faculty members. There will be opportunities to network with computer science and information system specialists at whichever university you attend. This will be particularly important if you plan on taking a research-oriented course, as it allows you to engage with staff who have achieved incredible feats in their academic careers. The academic faculty will differ from location to location; however, there will always be an opportunity to network and gain new computational insights from your professors.

Career paths

All universities will offer different degrees that propel you onto a separate career path. Some universities may have fantastic networking opportunities, internships, and placements that will help you secure your dream job in computer science. For example, the United States university MIT has an excellent employer reputation ranking (QS world rankings.) Similarly, the University of Cambridge has a 97% rating for graduate prospects. So you would expect anyone attending the University of Cambridge to be almost guaranteed a job in the IT sector (that’s only if you base this prospect solely on rankings.) Although the rankings don’t dictate your future, it indicates the university's ties with the professional world.

Rankings

Universities across the globe are ranked differently, some are better by subject-specific rankings, and others are better by world rankings. MIT, Carnegie Mellon, the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford, Harvard University, and ETH Zurich are among the top 10 best computer science and information systems universities. Rankings may be a good indicator of how well the university is performing. However, it shouldn’t be used exclusively to make your decision.

Scholarships

Scholarships may be an essential feature of your university experience, we all need some support sometimes, and financial aid is the best way to get your studies off the ground. Scholarships will be different depending on which country you are in. Finding scholarships may be challenging as an international student, but some are out there. The generous Oxbridge scholarships may be helpful if you’re a home student who wants to attend universities such as Oxford or Cambridge. For example, the DeepMind scholarship is funded by Google to help build a more inclusive environment in fields such as AI. This scholarship is available at both the University of Oxford and Cambridge. Another computer-based scholarship is for Italian students at the University of Cambridge who wish to undertake a master’s degree in STEM. Seoul National University has a range of scholarships before and after application—for example, the Glo-Harmony Scholarship is eligible for international students from developing countries. Full scholarships may be awarded on merit in some institutions, including living expenses and tuition. This means that if you are an outstanding student, you may be eligible for a full scholarship. Cybernews Academy recommends you check all the scholarships available once you’ve shortlisted your universities.

Student life

Student life is a broad term for your university experience and many elements affect your university life. This can range from the facilities available to you, the campus, and the people you interact with at school. We at Cybernews Academy came across some things that might make student life exceptional.

Campus Architecture

Alongside being a computer geek, maybe you’re also into architecture and art history. So, finding a photogenic campus with beautiful views might be essential to your university experience. As universities worldwide have all been built in different places in separate periods, the architecture and scenery will inevitably differ. Maybe you’re into English Brutalist architecture or want to experience North American Colonial colleges' dynamic and ancient architecture. There are a host of different architectural styles that appear on campuses across the world.

Accommodation

Some universities, like many Ivy League colleges, Cambridge and Oxford, expect you to live on campus in your first year of studies– policies for graduate students differ. Depending on which university you attend, each institution will have its educational traditions due to the country and culture– so there is no blanket rule for all countries. For example, NUS expects first-year students to live on campus during their initial year of studies. However, at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore), priority is given to first-years but undergraduates may live in off-campus residences. This is similar to Tsinghua University in China, where undergraduate students are given priority alongside international students.

Clubs, societies, organizations, and events

Like in most universities, there are many different clubs, societies, and organizations to choose from. You will encounter various cultural events and communities depending on your location. For example, KAIST, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, holds a range of musical recitals spanning from solo shows to orchestral numbers. KAIST also has interesting organizations like ‘Include,’ their AI academic society, and OPTeamus, the university's Esports team. Similarly, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology has a Computer Science and Engineering Students Society and The Electronic and Computer Engineering Society. Societies will differ depending on your university, so addressing your interests and seeing what different universities offer is a priority. For example, you may have a particular fascination with Sci-FI– Cornell University in the United States has a special interests Sci-Fi club.

Extra-curriculars

Extracurriculars are activities that are outside your general studies. This could include different workshops, extra modules, or other studies that aren’t part of your curriculum but lead by staff members. Extracurriculars exist in almost all universities around the world. For example, the University of Sheffield, U.K., offers academic research and critical thinking skills activities, including 1:1 study skills tutorials, academic skills workshops, maths and stats workshops, and other extracurriculars to help you improve your academic skills. Another excellent example of extracurricular activities at university is the Buckinghamshire New Universities module with Amazon—the university partners with Amazon to run the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Academy at BNU. This helps you gain industry-standard knowledge and skills to enhance your career prospects further.

Interesting facilities

There are many different facilities available to you at the university, you will come across libraries, laboratories, research centers, sports facilities, and student centers. These are the most common facilities you will come across– yet there is so much more to explore.

Esports Arenas

If you’re into gaming (I’m sure you are), universities like the University of Roehampton, London, and University College Birmingham have Esports Arenas, where you can go to a game or play competitively. The University of Roehampton offers training for students interested in creating content, live streaming, and videos for YouTube or Twitch. Many North American universities also have access to Esports Arenas, institutions like the University of California at Irvine, the University of California Berkley, and Georgia State University have these facilities. Additionally, Durham College in Oshawa, Ontario, has its own Esports space with over 50 workstations.

Bloomberg rooms

If you are interested in economics or business analytics and are considering taking a joint honors degree in Computer Science and Economics, then the Bloomberg room may appeal to you. These rooms allow you to use Bloomberg data, information, and analytics throughout your studies. Bloomberg is a financial service enabling you to observe worldwide market data, news, and analytical information. It also allows you to access leading banking information, including Bankscope, which stores real-time financial data and valuations. If you want to get into business, these facilities will help you build on these skills. The universities with these Bloomberg rooms are London Metropolitan University, the University of Roehampton, Kingston University, Queen Mary University, the University of Westminster, the University of Bristol, and many more institutions across the globe.

Libraries

Some universities have on-campus libraries, and others have affiliations with national libraries. Many institutions will have specialist libraries dedicated to specific subjects. For example, the University of Cambridge has a specialist library for computer scientists and a computer laboratory. Similarly, University College London has a computer science library specifically for computer scientists. These libraries will help with self-study and allow you to locate the latest information and stats through e-books, e-journals, and contemporary research.

Laboratories

As you’ll be studying computer science, access to labs is necessary. But don’t worry, a range of different university facilities will be available to you. If you head to Paris’ Institut of Polytechnique de Paris, you will encounter their Computer Science, data, and Artificial Intelligence laboratories. You can access their Information Processing and Communications Laboratory, the Computer Science and Information Systems UER, and Computer Science Laboratory. The University of Surrey has a Robot lab for Artificial Intelligence. Similarly, MIT has its very own Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence laboratory where you can put your learning into practice. Laboratories are essential to test the skills you have learned in the classroom. Here you can apply theoretical and practical elements of your studies to projects or academic activities.

We at Cybernews Academy wanted to lay out the features of university life that a self-proclaimed geek may be interested in geeking out to. Although there is much more to explore, we have highlighted some exciting facilities you can find worldwide, different courses and course structures, and other aspects of the university experience that you can sink your teeth into.