The World of Higher Education
This could be the most difficult or most exciting time of your life as you enter university life or the working world. Alternatively, you could be faced with unemployment and the tough labour market! Whatever situation you are in, here’s some advice about how to get through this stage in your life.
Working out how you’ll be able to pay university fees is easier if you know about all the help you may be able to get. There are many financial support services that can help students facing financial difficulties.
You can get support of up to £9,000 to help you with your course costs, you will have to pay this back at some point, but not until you are earning over £21,000. This type of loan is called a Tuition Fee Loan.
You may even qualify for a maintenance grant. This will help with living costs such as food, rent, travel expenses, and books. A grant doesn’t need to be paid back unless you do not finish your course.
Who qualifies for a maintenance grant?Anyone who lives in a household that has an income of £25,000 or less can get a loan of up to £3,250 a year
Anyone who lives in a household that has an income of £25,001- £42, 600 can get a partial grant depending on your household income.
Other financial support options
Disabled Students, check the reasonable adjustments you can ask for if you have a disability and are in full-time education.
Parents’ Learning Allowance
Adult Dependents’ Grant
Bursaries and Scholarships
Check here to see if you’re eligible for financial support.
What do I need to do?
How to apply for university?
If you are not sure about which university you would like to go to, it’s a good idea to find out if there are any higher education fairs and conventions in the UK you can go to. You might want to make sure that you go to the best university for your course (after all, you are paying for it!), take a look at the Complete University Guide to see university rankings.
You need to ensure that you have written a personal statement for your University and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) application well in advance. Preferably this should be done between January and March whilst you are still at college. Your tutor can help you with this.
Your personal statement should be just that – personal – and show the university why you would be a suitable student. Include in your personal statement what you want to study at the university and why, your interests and skills, and what you did on your gap year, if you were able to go travelling or you took a job.
It’s vital that you use clear, grammatically correct language and structure it as clearly as possible. This will set you apart from other students who are applying for the same course at the same university. Never be content with your first draft, even if you have to draft it ten times, keep going until you’re satisfied it tells your story. It’s worth it in the end!
Once completed you will need to fill in your application form online, this is a fairly straightforward and simple process, but you will need to take your time and ensure you have communicated all information simply.
Based on your application form you will get university offers in May/June, these can be conditional or unconditional.
An unconditional offer means that you have secured a place at the university. Regardless of the academic requirements, a place is yours!
A conditional offer means that you will have to meet certain grades in order to secure your university place. It is likely that your place will not be confirmed until results day.
UCAS Clearing is the process to take if you have had no offers or didn’t meet the grades asked for in an offer. Clearing will find you a place at a university or college that still has places on your course. For more information, visit UCAS.
If you have some spare time when you’re studying, think about an internship or job shadowing. This is a good way to explore your interests and future career options, and experience what work is really like in the areas you’re interested in. Remember though, that internships and job shadowing are not the same thing!
An internship gives you hands on experience and direct contact with people who work in your ideal profession.
The advantages of an internship are that it will provide opportunities for you to be trained in areas of your chosen profession, offering you support and knowledge of what the work entails.
A good, well-run internship can be a great opportunity for you to find out if this is really the career path you would like to take.
The option of work shadowing provides you with an opportunity to observe and have direct contact with a person who works in your ideal profession. The advantages of work shadowing are that you are able to see first-hand what it would be like to work in that field and how a day to day working day would operate. Of course, you can always put this on your future application form as work experience.
You’re not paid for work shadowing. In order to secure a work shadow placement you should ask your university careers officer, a lecturer or maybe even write to some organisations yourself.