All – Pluses and Minuses

9 October – Just tweaked the table. Corrected some errors in the math and upped by one my estimate of Newcastle as a location. Doesn’t change the bottom line, but it does have the interesting effect of putting City and Northumbria in an exact tie.


Here’s my table of pluses and minuses. I’ve rated each of the four universities on a number of attributes, using a scale of -5 to +5, and then multiplied that by the importance of the factor to me (whose scale is 1 to 7, from very low to very high, as shown in parentheses after the name of the factor) to get the score for that factor. The last line for each university is the overall score, which is just the sum of the weighted scores for that university on all factors.

The entries in this table are as of 4 October 2011, the day after I finished my campus visits. I will update it as I get more information or have more thoughts.

P.S. I have to figure out how to get WordPress to accept my formatting and styling in this table.

University
Positive Negative Comment
Score
Enthusiasm of faculty for my topics (7 – very high)
Surrey Liked one of them; had some ideas about how to work it. Liked only one of them, the one that engages me the least
-14
(-2)
Northumbria Liked all of them; very enthusiastic about the two that engage me most; had many ideas about how to work it. I came up with an idea for connecting the two. [none]
35
(+5)
City Liked all of them; had ideas about all of them. [none]
28
(+4)
UCL Liked one a lot; had some ideas about the other two. The ideas about the other two didn’t really excite me, and the one they liked is the one that least engages me.
-7
(-1)
Possibility of funding (4 – medium)
Surrey Not encouraging at all
-16
(-4)
Northumbria Fairly encouraging Deadline is later than City’s, and if City offers funding I might well have to decide on that before knowing whether I had an offer from Northumbria. Fees waived, stipend ~£13.6K/yr. Goes a lot farther in Newcastle than £15K in London.
16
(+4)
City Very encouraging; said they could probably get a fee waiver even if I didn’t win a stipend. [none] The fees are almost as much as the stipend (£15K/yr), so this would be worth about half the total funding money.
20
(+5)
UCL Mixed Mixed One postdoc said I had clearer ideas than he had when he applied, and he got funding.
4
(+1)
“Feel” of faculty and other students (7 – very high)
Surrey Congenial group. All of the students I met were young.
21
(+3)
Northumbria I can’t say enough about how good this is. [none] Several students considered “mature”; one is only a couple of years younger than. Students have a Facebook group and regular get-togethers.
35
(+5)
City Very good . I met one student who’s probably in his 40s.
28
(+4)
UCL All of the students I met were young. Feels kind of hard.
-7
(-1)
Location (from the desirability perspective) (5 – medium-high)
Surrey Good: It’s about 40 minutes from London and Guildford is a charming town. It’s not right in London.
20
(+4)
Northumbria Newcastle is a three-hour (fairly expensive) train ride from London, and is much less active, both culturally and in my professional field.
-15
(-3)
City The best of the four. Close enough to central London to be accessible to UX events and possible work, without being right in the middle of heavily touristed areas.
25
(+5)
UCL Very good; central London.
20
(+4)
Tuition for international students (3 – medium-low)
Surrey ~£11,000
These boxes are supposed to be somewhat comparative instead of absolute, but I can’t help thinking they’re all somewhat high.
-3
(-1)
Northumbria £10,300 (2011-2012)
0
City Not clear yet, probably ~£12,000-£13,000 (but likely to be waived)
-6
(-2)
UCL ~£18,000
-15
(-5)
Cost of living (3 – medium-low)
Surrey Probably a good compromise.
6
(+2)
Northumbria The best of the four (although still probably about as expensive as the area where I live now).
12
(+4)
City Very high
-12
(-4)
UCL Extremely high
-15
(-5)
Facilities (3 – medium-low)
Surrey Not much
-6
(-2)
Northumbria A whole design school! I don’t think they have a usability lab. Must find out.
12
(+4)
City A usability lab Not a tremendous amount else. I would have designed the lab a little differently, but it’s good
9
(+3)
UCL I’m not sure.
3
(+1)
Involvement in the area’s professional community (6 – high)
Surrey None that I could tell Need more info.
0
Northumbria Very high, and the students too are involved
 24
(+4)
City Extremely high — hosts barcamps and participates in design jams & geekevents
30
(+5)
UCL Unsure Need more info. I’ll give them credit for working with practitioners.
6
(+1)
Department(s) / School (3 – medium-low)
Surrey – sociology Looks at it from cultural perspective Very small — only four offices I don’t know a tremendous amount about sociology, but it’s an interesting take.
-3
(-1)
Northumbria (interaction design) In a design school!
15
(+5)
City (informatics) Centre for Human-Computer Interaction Design
12
(+4)
UCL (computer science and psychology) They work as a team, without regard for whether a student is registered in CS or psych I’m not sure I want to be in a CS-oriented group.
-3
(-1)
Total Score (I’ll have to double-check my math: I copied numbers into Excel and added)
Surrey
5
Northumbria
134
City
134
UCL
-14
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  1. This actually kind of surprises me. From my gut feel, I knew Northumbria and City would come out on top, but I didn’t realize they’d be in a photo finish, and I didn’t realize that UCL would come out as low as it did.

  2. That’s going to be a tough choice, but the field is clearly narrowed to 2.

  3. Apparently, you can use inline styles on wordpress.com posts (haven’t tried myself but did google).

  1. Pingback: Pluses and Minuses « Leisurely Seeking Doctorate

  2. Pingback: Exploring the options at City « Leisurely Seeking Doctorate

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