Given that I’ve finished an undergraduate degree in Cardiff School of Computer Science and am currently pursuing a postgraduate in Advanced Computer Science, I felt it appropriate that my first post (at the very least) discussed my impression of the Computer Science department at Cardiff University.
Now before you accuse me of being a brainwashed student so desperate for a quick fiver that he’s willing to be a part of the University’s propaganda, let me tell you why I’m doing this! Firstly, if I wanted to, I could criticise the University in this blog post. Secondly, I’m getting £10 from this which equates to a week’s worth of groceries from Lidl. That is no trivial matter (especially when their triple chocolate cookies are on offer for a limited time only). Most importantly, though, I’m doing this because I feel the rankings don’t really do justice to the School of Computer Science at Cardiff University. After my undergraduate degree, I had to fill out a form that would have a huge impact on the eventual ranking of the department and once I gained a glimpse into how the rankings are actually decided, I realised how misleading they can be. Now before you rush to view the rankings in reverse order and apply to the bottom five, let me just say that the rankings are still a good starting point (especially the….ahem…..REF ones), but no more than that.
My experience at Cardiff University School of Computer Science has been fairy-tale like, although, admittedly I’m still single however I’m sure there’s someone out there with a shoe that will only fit my foot (See picture on right). Nonetheless, despite the shortage of women bearing size 9 shoes, I am still adamant that my experience at University has been fairy-tale like (Even so, may I point you in the direction of my profile). Let me provide an example. In first year I had a lecturer who made it his mission to break down the barriers stopping students from contributing to lectures and he tackled them through extortion. For each lecture he would bring a bag of sweets with him and anyone who asked a difficult-ish question or answered a question or said something vaguely useful (like, I love your module) would be thrown a sweet. Now sure there were a few health and safety issues when the students right at the back started contributing (that’s how effective his technique was!) and there may have been a few casualties (not humans, just sweets), however, it made it so much more enjoyable to be a part of the class (as the lecturer had a sense of humour that would put John Cleese to shame). Also, I don’t mean to boast about my intelligence, but I gained weight during his module.
To provide another example, someone recently asked me if I now consider Cardiff my home. Initially I was a bit tentative to agree but having thought about it, my answer would definitely be yes! That is primarily due to the school of Computer Science. It’s such a tight knit community that everyone gets to know each other very well, lecturers make an effort to learn your name (a rarity in University) and they’re concerned about you. Furthermore, the facilities are open 24/7, 365 days a year (including Christmas day…. Trust me), so not only does it serve as an educational facility but also as somewhere to just escape (even if its lecturers you’re trying to hide from).
It’s these little things (amongst many others) that strengthen my conviction that Cardiff University was the right choice and it’s these little things (as One Direction once melodiously said) that the rankings don’t capture but are ironically what matters most. So no, don’t solely rely on the rankings (or the prevalence of your shoe size).