Agreed university prestige means nothing when applying for a games job. Unless the boss is a past graduate and only hires from the University he went too, which is a potentially dangerous policy to have.
I would have thought the only university really that people "might" know about outside Ireland is trinity and that’s mainly due to its history and not the quality of graduates or courses. Like any university you get good and bad students everywhere. After all just because you get 500 points in the leaving doesn’t mean you’ll have the aptitude to be a good programmer etc. Unfortunately, Computer Science isn’t a leaving cert subject so it’s hard to get a feel for it before you encounter it in University. I think that’s probably on reason the failure rate in first year is high ( well at least that was the perception when I was in University, it might have changed).
I went to UCC and I’m sure the majority of people over here in Vancouver have no idea about the calibre of students, quality of courses, projects etc. All they have to work off when hiring is what you have on your resume. I’m pretty sure when I got my first job in games at SEGA in the UK the University had almost nothing to do with it, it was mostly due to projects I had done in my spare time and graduation score.
If anything it’ll be the score you get on graduating that will have the most impact ( 1.1 degree, 2.1 etc, which is similar to most graduate positions). But even at that some uni’s are easier to get through than others so be expected to do a programming test to get the job and prove you didnt coast through doing "filler subjects".
Projects you do throughout the course will help you to get better a programming, maths etc. But ultimately it’ll be the work you do on your own that will really make you a good engineer.
I think you’ll find the majority of people on the board here who work in games probably didn’t do a game specific course and their course probably didn’t have many things related to games. They probably learned new languages, tech etc on the side or managed to work them into 3rd or final year projects. Nowadays there is so many ways for you to be able to demonstrate your skills; Unity, Unreal modding, XNA(will actually that one is dead now but still), open source projects etc.
To me it seems only a small percentage of people doing CS end up going into game ( may 1 or 2 in every graduation class, if even that). I think when I graduated in 2003 the only other person I ever heard of going into games from that CS department prior to me was a guy in 2001, before that there was no one. lol
Consequently, I’d imagine the majority of CS courses everywhere are geared towards where the majority of jobs are. So they have lots of focus on databases, networking, Java/C# (or whatever is the popular language at that time in the various industries), basic architecture, web design etc. After all these skills cover 90% of the jobs out there.
But in conclusion after you get your first job your University degree is really not too important, your references and performance in your previous role will determine whether you get your next job. Games is a small industry so often someone working at the place you apply to will know someone at your current work place and can verify if what you say is bullshit or not and regardless of your rep and experience level you will nearly always be asked to do a programming test in some capacity. If they don’t ask you to do one you should probably be weary of that company.