Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Christmas opening hours

Everyone needs a break now and again, so we’ll be closed for a short time over the holiday period too. If you need to contact us, take a look at our opening hours.
Remember, there’s lots of advice and answers to the top questions we get asked on our video wall, and you can always check out our FAQs.

If you do leave a question for us on Facebook or Twitter while we’re closed, our advisers will respond as quickly as possible when they’re back. 

Friday, 11 December 2015

Five reasons to sign up to the UCAS newsletter

So you’ve followed us on social media and you might have even downloaded our app. You’ve probably read some of our blogs and watched the videos on our video wall, but did you know you can also sign up for monthly newsletters? Here are our top five reasons why you should:

Get useful information and advice
Each month, we’ll include useful advice on topics such as choosing courses, practical ‘how-to’ guides about filling in your application, and guidance on what to write about in your personal statement.

      Never miss a deadline!
We’ll give you plenty of notice about all the application deadlines and things you need to be doing for them.

      You don’t need to do anything!
Once a month, we’ll send your bite-sized newsletter directly to your inbox.

      Get reassurance and tips from other students
Doing something new – like applying to uni – can be scary! We’ll share tips, thoughts, and advice with you from other students in your shoes.

      Read about the things that matter to YOU
Your monthly newsletter will include articles on things like careers, staying healthy, and saving money. Some articles are written by experts and some by students, giving you a balanced view on all sorts of topics.

What are you waiting for? Sign up now!

15 January deadline - how to apply...

Looking to start uni for 2016 entry? The deadline for most courses is 15 January. If you’re not sure what deadline your course has, check in our search tool.

When you’ve found that dream course you’re interested in you need to register, which will give you a username and ask you to create a password. Once you’ve done that, you can get stuck in with the application.

So once you’ve logged in, where do you begin?

Getting started
The basics come first; with questions based around your personal details so they should be straight-forward enough to answer. If you come across any questions that aren't clear, click on the red question mark which explains what you need to include. Check out our handy how-to video for a more in-depth view of the application.

Here you need to add the schools or colleges you’ve attended since the age of 13, along with the qualifications you’ve studied. It’s worth having your certificates to hand as they’ll be useful if you’re unsure of any of the details, such as your awarding bodies. There’s quite a lot of info you need to add here so we’ve created this video to help you.

Personal statement
This is your opportunity to shout about your strengths, talk about your interests and expand on why you want to go to university and study your chosen course. On a practical note, it’s best to create a draft of your personal statement in a Word document first, then copy it over once you’re happy with it. It’s a good idea to ask someone in your family, a teacher, or a friend to have a look over it before you add it to your application. A second pair of eyes will help to spot any errors you might’ve made or remind you of some important information you’ve missed off. Reading it aloud a couple of times is a good way to check that what you’ve written flows correctly.

If you’re not sure where to start with your personal statement, try out our handy personal statement tool which will get you started.

You need a reference before you can finish your application. This is usually a current or previous teacher, but if you’ve been working for a few years someone who knows you in a professional capacity, such as an employer, may be the right person. Your referee can’t be someone in your family or a friend.

There are a couple of ways to get a reference – read on to see which is the right way for you.

i) If you’re applying through your school or college: 

When you register, you’ll be asked to enter a buzzword when you select that you’ll be applying through your school or college. This will link your application to your school or college so your teacher can write your reference. They’ll also be able to look over your application and help you along the way, and when the time comes, they’ll send it to us on your behalf.

ii) If you’re applying independently: 

There are a couple of ways to get a reference if you’re applying independently. If your previous school or college is happy to complete a reference then in the ‘Options’ section you can select ‘ask a registered school, college or centre to write a reference only.’ This route needs a buzzword from the school or college so remember to discuss this with them first.

Alternatively, you can enter your referee’s contact details in the reference section and we’ll send them an email with instructions on what to do.

If you’re opting for this route, make sure you speak to your referee first to check they’ll be able to provide your reference before you send them a request. Let them know something about the courses you are applying for so their reference is as relevant as possible. Once they've completed it you’ll be sent an email and the reference section will be marked with a red tick.

Good luck with your application!

If you have any questions about applying then have a look on our website. You can also get in touch with our advisers on Facebook or Twitter and they’ll do their best to help.

Monday, 30 November 2015

How to make the most of your visit to an open day in four simple steps

It’s always a good idea to get a taste of a university before you apply there or accept an offer of a place from them. The best way to do this is by attending an open day! Not sure how to find them or why you should attend? This blog has it covered…

Why should you attend an open day?
They give you the chance to get a first-hand impression of the uni that you can’t get online – so important if you end up spending three years living there. You’ll get to see the university in action, find out more about the course, ask the tutors questions as well as the opportunity to meet their students who will know the uni inside out.

Search for open days and make a shortlist
There are over 370 unis and colleges in the UK, so you won’t be able to attend them all! Make a shortlist of the unis and courses you’re interested in by looking at our search tool.

Once you’ve done that, search for open days on our website. If the uni doesn’t have any listed, have a look on their website or give them a quick call to find out if they have any events lined up.  

Prepare for open days
The uni will have a planned itinerary that will usually consist of a tour of the grounds, staff and student talks, and opportunities to ask questions. Consider what sort of questions you’d like to ask and what departments you’d like to see before you attend.

Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to arrive as you don’t want to miss any important info. Most unis will have advice on their website on public transport links and sat nav instructions to get there so have a quick look when you plan your journey.

Can’t make it? There are alternatives
We appreciate that trying to attend numerous open days can be expensive, tiring, and not always logical. If this is the case then try the next best thing, our virtual tours! These shouldn’t be seen as a replacement for open days, just an alternative if you can’t visit.

Some unis offer taster courses, which include workshops and seminar sessions led by academic staff. They provide you with valuable insight into how the university or college works. You can search for taster courses on our website.

If you have any questions about open days then have a look on our website. You can also get in touch with our advisers on Facebook or Twitter and they’ll do their best to help.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Do you hate getting up for school?

Don’t you hate it when your alarm goes off and for a split second you think it’s a mistake? There’s no reason to get up and you can just snuggle down and stay in bed. Then it hits you: it’s Monday morning and it’s time to get up for school. However there are thousands of young people around the world that don’t have the same feeling, because school isn’t an option for them due to war and conflict.

That’s why as an education charity, UCAS is supporting UNICEF’s campaign to protect children and schools in emergencies. You can show your support too just by adding your signature.

Samer’s is someone who’s been affected by conflict. Read his story…

Samer missed a year of high school because of the conflict in Syria, but eventually finished his secondary studies and was accepted to study business at the University of Damascus. But the war interrupted his plans again. Samer and his family were forced to flee to Jordan. While making their escape, they witnessed the horror of war first hand as three people they were travelling with were killed.

“At first the fighting was with bullets, but when I saw bombs we decided to leave. It’s like an earthquake when the bomb hits the ground. We were so scared,” Samer recalls.

Now at a refugee camp in Jordan, Samer is continuing his studies. When he left Syria he brought two language books with him and has since taught himself to read and write in English. He was also given a guitar and has learned how to play. Music and poetry are helping him cope, as he anxiously waits to find out if he can finally go to university.

Join over 60,000 people who have already shown their support for young people like Samer. Sign up to support the Unicef campaign by adding your signature here. It costs nothing and only takes a moment.

Image credit: © UNICEF/Jordan-13/Noorani 

Monday, 23 November 2015

Four tips to choosing the right course

We're here to support and guide you through every step of the higher education application process, from deciding which path to take, to tracking the progress of your application and heading off to university or college. We know it can sometimes seem daunting, but we're here to help you as much as we can.

To get you started, follow our top tips to make sure you choose the right course for you:

1. Choose your course 
The first place to go is our search tool – it’s no good deciding on a uni until you know they have the right course for you. If you’re struggling to choose between courses and unis, we’ve got some advice in this short video.

2. Be realistic 
Check the entry requirements to see if you meet the minimum requirements they ask for. The entry requirements are usually based on your qualifications, but can also contain admissions tests or an interview. The university’s entry requirements will be shown in our search tool but it’s always worth giving them a quick ring if they’re unclear.

3. It’s all about the vibe 
Do you like the idea of a large university in a big city, or a smaller one in a leafy suburb? Do you want to stay close to home (handy for washing and meals!) or are you ready to go it alone? Make sure you attend an open day before you commit to a uni, as you’d want to get a feel for the place before you reply to your offers. If you’re attending an open day, make the most of your visit by checking out our top tips.

4. Get the low down 
Download the UCAS news app from the App store or Google play, and sign up for the monthly newsletters. They both contain all the key dates you need for applying, tips on writing personal statements, university profiles, and info on student life. As well as that, the app has lots of additional stuff such as how to jazz up your fish finger sandwich, to discovering unis where you can pick your own fruit!

If you have any questions about your application, send us a message on Facebook or Twitter and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

How to prepare for your conservatoire audition

If you’re applying to a conservatoire, you’ll need to attend an audition before they can make a decision – our guide to making the most of your audition will help you get to grips with how to prepare.

To give you a better idea of what could be in store for you at an audition, Nicola Peacock from the Royal College of Music shares her top tips.

Auditions are a busy time for conservatoire staff, but also exciting, as we get to meet the talented new students who will be joining us next year. We are very aware that auditioning at a conservatoire can seem a daunting prospect, but we really want applicants to have a positive experience and a lot of effort goes into ensuring we look after you on the day.

How to prepare
Each conservatoire will have information on its website about what you need to prepare and any particular requirements, so check these carefully when you know your audition date. If you are not sure or don’t understand something, please don’t be afraid to contact us to ask.

Practical tips
Our top tip would be to allow plenty of time for your journey, so that you arrive on time feeling calm and prepared. There is no need to wear concert dress – we would recommend smart casual clothes that you feel comfortable in. Don’t forget to bring along the music for both you and your accompanist (people really do forget!) and anything you may need for your instrument, like spare reeds, strings, or a mute.

When you arrive, there will be people on hand to direct you to your audition room and answer any last minute questions. Audition stewards are often current students, so take the opportunity to ask them what student life is like!

For performers auditioning in the UK, the conservatoire can usually provide an accompanist for you, and you will have time to warm up together before the audition.

The audition
The exact structure of your audition will depend on the conservatoire and your specialism, but for most instrumental and vocal performers, your audition will probably last around 15-20 minutes. There will normally be two or three panellists, who will be experts in your specialism. They may choose which of your pieces they want to hear, and don’t worry if they don’t ask you to play all the way to the end of what you prepared. There will probably also be a sight-reading test and some auditions may include some scales or aural work. It is possible you may also get asked to perform for a second panel or in a group workshop. For composers, your portfolio will have already been assessed, so the panel will want to talk to you about your ideas in more detail. There may be some different assessments too for students of dance and drama, such as dance classes or a group interview.

Ask questions!
Most auditions will include a conversation about your experience and interests. Don’t forget that this is a chance for you to get a feel for the conservatoire and ask us some questions! You might want to ask about performance opportunities on the programme, or which professors you could end up working with.

Good luck with your auditions!

If you have any questions about your conservatoire application, check out our website or send us a message on Facebook or Twitter.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

How to apply for teacher training programmes in four steps

You can now apply for teacher training programmes for 2016 entry on our website. There isn’t a set deadline that your application needs to reach us by, but to be in with the best chance of securing a place at your preferred provider we recommend you apply as soon as possible.

Not sure where to begin? We’ve got it covered in four simple steps.

1. Research training providers and programmes

Before you start your application, research the training providers that offer the programme you’re interested in. There are four different routes into teaching, so if you’re not sure which one is right for you, check out this short video.

Once you’ve found the programme you’re interested in, see which providers offer it in our search tool. Here, you’ll be able to find further information on the provider and programme.

2. Register on our website

So, now you’ve found the programme and provider you’re interested in, the next step is to register online. It’s a short process which will ask you for basic information such as your name, address, and date of birth. You need to provide a valid email address as this will be your username and you’ll be asked to create a password.

3. Complete an application

When you log in you’ll see a page like this:

Each section must be completed before you can send your application. We’ve got lots of advice on how to complete the application on our website.

The ‘Education’ section can sometimes cause a bit of confusion. You need to enter every place where you’ve achieved a formal qualification from in the ‘Education’ section.  This should start from the age of 12 onwards.

First, you search for your school by clicking on the ‘Add new school/college/university’ link and then ‘Find school’ to select the ones you’ve attended.

If the school isn’t listed, close the pop up window and you’ll be able to enter the details in manually.

Once you’ve done this, add in your GCSEs and A levels (or equivalents). If your qualification type isn’t in the list, select the ‘Other’ option that best suits you to enter the details in manually.

Finally, add details of your degree. Start with your university or college name, degree class, course name, start date, and results date.

When it comes to adding your school and work experience you need to include:

your school experience and work history, including current occupation
the time you spent in a school or college, including details of the age groups and subjects you were involved in
For the ‘hours per week’ question give the average weekly time you spent in the establishment.

Some training providers will require your complete work history, if you can’t fit this in then send the info to the providers separately, in a CV or a summary of your work history.

If you need any help with the personal statement or reference sections, then all the advice you need is on our website.

4. Pay for and send your application

Once every section of your application is complete, the final step is making a payment. The fee is £23 and you pay this with a debit or credit card. It can take up to 48 hours for your application to be processed but once it has, you’ll be sent an email with your Track login details.

Good luck with your application!

Download our free UCAS Teacher Training pack which contains all the information and advice you need to apply.

If you have any questions then send us a message on Facebook or Twitter and we'll get right back to you.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Applied for teacher training programmes? You may be able to use Apply 2...

So, to start with what is Apply 2? Well, it’s an opportunity for you to add a new training programme if you’ve been unsuccessful or declined your original choices. It started on 9 November and runs until 30 September 2016. You can add one additional programme from any that have vacancies.

Where can I find vacancies?
You can check what programmes are available in our search tool – the vacancy status indicates whether there are places. It’s also a good idea to contact the training provider to check they're still recruiting and will consider you. Ask if there are any additional documents you can provide – including an updated personal statement – to strengthen your application. To do this, just give them a quick call – you’ll find their contact details also in the search tool.

How do I add an Apply 2 choice? 
If you’re eligible, you’ll have the ‘Add Apply 2 Choice’ option under your original choices in Track. We’ve got more advice on how to add a choice here.

When will the provider make a decision?
The providers have 40 working days to make a decision. If you have a change of heart and want to apply elsewhere, you can add a new programme in place of your current one. But be aware, this will cancel your original choice which means they’ll no longer be able to offer you a place.

As soon as you’ve changed your Apply 2 choice, the 40 day reply period will start again, so make sure it’s something you want to wait for. It’s always worth speaking to the training provider first to find out when they’re likely to make a decision and to make sure you’re not losing any valuable time by choosing a different provider!

When do I reply to an offer?
If you receive an offer, you’ll have 10 working days to accept it. The place will be declined automatically if you don’t reply so make sure you keep an eye on Track!

If you have any further questions about Apply 2 then have a look on our website or get in touch with our advisers on Facebook or Twitter.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Applying for the 15 October deadline? Make sure you avoid these last minute dramas

There’s not long until the application deadline for dentistry, medicine, veterinary medicine and veterinary science courses, as well as all courses at the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge. If you’re planning on applying to any of these then you must submit your application by 18:00 (UK time) on 15 October to guarantee being considered by the university or colleges.

To make sure you don’t miss it, we have five top tips on getting your application complete before the deadline.

1) Know your login details for Apply

A simple one to begin with, to complete your application you must be able to log in. If you’ve forgotten your login details, recover them online.

2) Give yourself plenty of time to write your personal statement

Your personal statement is your opportunity to sell yourself to the unis or colleges you’re applying to. It’s important not to rush it and make sure you get all the valuable information in that you need. If you need some inspiration then check out this blog post, it has 10 places to get personal statement pointers.

3) Make sure you give your referees enough time to complete their reference

Your referee must complete a reference before your application can be sent. To check whether they’ve done this, log into your application and check the message on the welcome screen.

i) If you’re applying through your school or college

After you've sent your application to your school or college, you’ll see a message on the ‘Welcome page.’ It’ll either say your application has been sent to UCAS or that we are waiting for your centre to finish your reference or send your application.

Make sure you let your school or college know that you’re applying for courses with a 15 October deadline. As this is earlier than the deadline for most other courses, it’s important to check that they’re able to complete your reference and send your application in time.

ii)  If you’re applying independently

When you log into your application, does the reference box have a red tick against it? If so, then it’s been completed by your referee and you’ll be able to send us your application once you've completed all the other sections. If the reference box has three green dots then it means it’s still incomplete. Speak to your referee to make sure they’re happy to provide a reference for you before the deadline.

4) You need to pay before you can send your application

Before your application can be sent you need to arrange a payment. If you’re applying through your school or college then they may pay the fee for you, check with them if you’re not sure. If your school or college hasn’t arranged this or you’re applying independently, you’ll pay by credit or debit card once every section of your application that’s available to you has been marked with a red tick. This video talks you through the payment section.

5) Don’t leave it until the last minute

You never know what might happen on the day, whether it’s technical issues or internet problems. You don’t want to miss the deadline because of circumstances beyond your control.

Good luck with your application!

If you have any questions about your application, send us a message on Facebook or Twitter and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Explore jobs with UCAS Progress

It may seem years and years away before you start your career but soon you’ll be able to make choices about qualifications that could impact what route you take to where you eventually want to be.

Deciding what you need to do now can be tough – should you do A levels, Highers, BTEC diplomas or an apprenticeship? – there are literally hundreds of options.

To help you narrow it down we’ve created our explore jobs section. We’ve catalogued over 100 different jobs you could do, explaining what each job involves and how you can get into that career. Ever wondered how to become a hospital doctor, beekeeper or dancer? We’ve got the answers and links to more information.

We’ve listed the essential and desirable qualifications for all the jobs featured – we’ve also highlighted if there are different pathways into the career of your choice.

There are a couple of different ways to start your research:

if you know what you want to do, you can search for that job and go straight to the profile
you can filter roles by job family – so if you know you want to work in engineering and manufacturing you can look at the only jobs relevant to that job family
if you’re completely stuck for what to do, take the Buzz quiz – it takes just a few minutes and suggests different jobs and job families you may be interested in based on your personality

Soon you’ll also be able to filter jobs by the skills needed to do the job – like written communication, or related subjects – like maths and English.

Remember, there’s lots of different things you can do. For most jobs there are lots of different ways you can study or train!

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Five tips to avoid deadline day drama

The deadline for conservatoire music courses is 1 October at 18:00 (UK time). By this date your entire application, including referee details and payment, must be completed and sent to us. Make sure you don’t miss this deadline by following these five tips.

1. Know your logins
We’ll start with the basics, it’s important you know your username and password so you can complete your application. You don’t want to be struggling to login while trying to meet the deadline. If you’ve forgotten your username or password, recover your details online.

2. Give yourself plenty of time to complete the personal statement 
The personal statement may appear daunting but we’ve got plenty of advice to help you along the way. Also, check out our personal statement mind map as it has lots of guidance on how to start, all the way through to completing it.

3. Make sure you have a valid debit or credit card to make a payment
In order to send your application, you must complete the payment section. It may sound obvious but check that the account has enough money in it to cover your application and audition fees and is valid to make payments online.

4. Don’t leave it to the very last minute
You never know what might happen, whether you have last minute internet issues or other technical problems you don’t want to miss the deadline because of it.

5. Keep calm
Above all, it’s important to stay calm and not stress. If you have any questions about your application, check out our website or send us a message on Facebook or Twitter.

Good luck with your application!

Get the views of conservatoire student Charlotte, who has been sharing her experience in her blog.

Four top tips to managing your money at uni

The thought of managing your money while at university may appear daunting, but with a bit of planning it doesn’t need to be. We’ve got plenty of finance information on our website but if you need a bit more advice, we spoke to Izabella, from the Money Advice Service, who shared her top tips on how to make your money go further.

Make sure you know what to expect
If you’re starting university this September, it may be your first taste of independence and looking after your money. Being aware of the costs of being a student from the start, and knowing where you can cut costs will mean your money will go further and you won’t blow your budget.

1. Average costs of being a student
Each university will charge an annual tuition fee, which could now be up to £9,000 a year.

On top of this, there are other costs you should consider. The below table is from the NUS (National Union of Students).

Cost type
Cost per year
Personal items
Travel to university
Other travel and holidays
Household essentials, including toiletries
Books and equipment
Total cost per year

2. Work out a budget
A budget is simply a record of your incomings and outgoings. As a student, you may not have many incomings, unless you get a part-time job, but include your loans, any grants, and any money you may get from your family in your budget.

Try to work out how much money you will have at the beginning of each week or month, and remember this budget needs to cover accommodation, food, and books as well as socialising! Seeing the figures in black and white will make it easier to not overspend.

The Money Advice Service’s blog on budgeting as a student will help.

3. Review your spending
Having more money going out than coming in is a common worry for students. The first step is to review your spending. Could you cut back anywhere?

You may also be able to get a part-time job to help boost your income. Are there any jobs going at your students’ union, for example?

You should try to avoid getting in high levels of debt or missing any important payments, such as your utility bills. This can impact your credit rating in later life.

Your credit rating is used to help lenders decide whether to lend you money, how much to let you borrow, and, in some cases, how much interest to charge you. Learn more about your credit rating with the Money Advice Service.

4. Save money where you can   
Making certain choices over others could also save you money. For example, many bank accounts are very competitive when it comes to students, so there are often freebies up for grabs. A popular one is a 16-25 railcard, which gives you money off when you’re travelling (however, the railcard isn’t available in Northern Ireland).

If you think you will need to use an overdraft facility, it may be worth finding a bank that gives you an authorised overdraft, as long as you remember this isn’t free money and you will need to start to repay it when you graduate. The Money Advice Service has a useful guide on student and graduate bank accounts.

You can also save money by shopping smarter – by shopping around, using vouchers, and using outlet stores, for example. The Money Advice Service has more tips on saving money when shopping.

If you have any further questions, you can contact the Money Advice Service for free, impartial advice on 0300 500 5000. They can also be contacted on Twitter and Facebook.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

How to make the most of an open day in four simple steps

Open days are a great opportunity for you to get to know a conservatoire better. You get to see the facilities and they give you the chance to meet current students and staff so you can ask any burning questions. Before you attend one, make the most of your visit by following these four simple steps:

1. Make a shortlist – visiting every conservatoire might be a bit ambitious, so choose the ones that offer the course you’re interested in. There are eight conservatoires and all open days are listed on their website:

Birmingham Conservatoire
Leeds College of Music
Royal Academy of Music
Royal College of Music
Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Royal Northern College of Music
Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama
Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance

2. Know what to expect – each conservatoire will have a planned itinerary of tours, talks and chances to ask questions. This will vary from each conservatoire so make sure you check their website to find out what’s on the agenda for the day.

3. Plan ahead – think about what you’d like to find out more about, and which departments you'd like to look at.  Prepare some questions you’d like to ask current students and the academic staff. They’re the ones who know the place best so make sure you make the most of this opportunity!

4. Taster sessions – as well as attending an open day, you could see if they run taster sessions to give a flavour of the course you’re interested in.

If you have any questions about applying to a conservatoire put them to our helpful advisers on Facebook and Twitter.

Get the views of conservatoire student Charlotte, who has been sharing her experience in her blog.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Three tips to choosing the right course

Have you considered a career in music, dance, or drama? If so, check out what’s on offer with UCAS Conservatoires.

But how do you know which is the right course for you? Our tips will make sure you choose the course that best suits you.

1. Research courses in our search tool.
The first place to start will be our search tool. Once you’ve found a course and conservatoire that’s taken your interest, find out more about the course, the conservatoire, the entry requirements and the audition fees by clicking on the course in question.

2. Attend open days
Open days will give you the opportunity to check out the facilities, meet current students and staff and give you the chance to ask them questions. Search for open days by conservatoire on our website. If you attend an open day, make sure you plan ahead by checking out the itinerary for the day. This will give you an idea of what to expect and what questions to prepare.

3. Check conservatoire reviews
If you’d like to get further information on a conservatoire there are lots of resources online. You can read student opinions on Unistats or conservatoire reviews on QAA.

If you have any questions about applying to a conservatoire put them to our helpful advisers on Facebook and Twitter.

Get the views of conservatoire student Charlotte, who has been sharing her experience in her blog.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Still looking for accommodation?

Got a place at uni but don’t have a place in halls? Are you still hunting for somewhere to live during your studies? Here are our top three tips to help you find your ideal student pad:
Talk to the accommodation team at your uni – ask them if they have a waiting list for halls of residence. Some students change their mind before term starts, so a room may become available for you.
Consider private halls – there are loads of these! They’re really popular and can be found all over the UK. Private halls are close to university campuses, have great facilities and everything you could need, whilst still maintaining a student environment. Head to livingatuni.com today to find private halls near your uni.
Find a house share – lots of students in their second and third years will be looking for housemates to share with, so there are plenty of opportunities out there. Your uni might be able to help you find approved landlords near the campus. Students’ unions often have boards or forums for students at your university who are looking for a housemate, so it’s worth checking there too.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Clearing – making the call

If your results were not what you expected, you may have found yourself in Clearing. If so, there’s no need to panic. Last year, over 61,000 applicants secured a place through Clearing.

By now you’ve probably had a look at our search tool for Clearing vacancies. If you’ve found the ideal course for you, that’s great news! But you shouldn’t rush your decision and add the choice in Track. You should call the uni first to make sure they still have vacancies, discuss your application, and also to check whether they can accept you.

Making that call may appear daunting but we’ve got some words of advice from three universities on what to expect.

1) Laura Howells, Admissions Officer at Cardiff Metropolitan University

‘Clearing can seem like a confusing and stressful time for students but with some careful research and preparation, it doesn’t have to be!

Firstly, make sure you know which programme you want to apply for and check if there are vacancies. Most universities will publish a list of course vacancies on their website but you can also check the UCAS search tool.

Know what qualifications and results you’ve achieved. If you’re made an offer, it’s likely that we’ll ask you to send in copies of your qualifications – so it might be worth digging out those GCSE certificates!

When contacting universities, it’s best to be as clear as possible about your situation so that we can give you the best possible options. Universities will normally want to know what you’ve studied and what you want to study, as well as some personal details. For some courses you may be put through to a lecturer to have an informal chat about the course. However, our advisers will talk you through your options and what to do next if you want to accept an offer.

Remember that it’s your chance to ask some questions too! Find out about work placements, sports facilities, and assessment methods to make sure the course and university suits you. It’s also worth finding out if the university offers any Clearing open days.

However, the most important tip we can share with you is not to panic! Although Clearing can seem like a race to find a place, your university will be your home for the next three to four years so make sure that you take your time to make the right decision.

Have a look at these inspirational Clearing stories from Cardiff Met.’

2) Louise Carr, Student Recruitment Officer at Liverpool University

‘We appreciate that calling a university during Clearing can be pretty stressful, so here are our top five tips to help you prepare for making that call, and to help you find the right university for you:

1. Research: Admissions requirements vary greatly at different institutions. Before and during results day, look at websites to find universities that suit your academic profile and make a list of these to contact. If you are likely to achieve B grades, you don’t want to sell yourself short by accepting a course that requires D grades, and vice versa.

2. Qualifications: Universities make offers based on your results, so make sure you know exactly what qualifications you have completed, and your full results. For example, if you have a BTEC, what type of BTEC is it? Be prepared to talk about any relevant work experience you might have, particularly for more vocational courses. It’s also helpful to think about why you want to study your particular subject and why it interests you.

3. In person: On results day, you’ll need access to the internet and a telephone to make enquiries yourself. University staff can really only discuss your application and your results with you.

4. Ask: Selecting a course and university is a big decision so make a list of questions that will help you make an informed choice. Ask about the modules that make up your course, any study abroad opportunities, scholarships, accommodation, etc. Also, remember to find out what you need to do next if you want to accept the Clearing offer, and if there is a deadline to do that by.

5. Who to contact: The UCAS website is a good starting point for advice, and don’t forget your teachers as they have helped many students before you. Universities will have information about any remaining course vacancies on their homepages, for example at Liverpool, www.liv.ac.uk/results is updated with all our latest information.

Finally, try to keep calm and call upon your support network both at home and at school.’

3) Helen Wright, Undergraduate Admissions Manager at Swansea University

‘Finding out that your best laid plans haven’t worked out and realising that you are in Clearing can be a really scary moment, but the best advice I can give you is don't panic! Easier said than done, I know, but the majority of universities these days take a large proportion of applicants through Clearing, have a wide range of vacancies, and are ready to take your phone call.

What will happen when I phone a university in Clearing?

When you call our Helpline Team, you will be asked for:
1. Your UCAS number (if you are already in the UCAS system for this cycle)
2. The name of the course (or type of course) you're interested in
3. Details of your qualifications
4. A valid email address as you will be sent an email if you are offered a place

Make sure you have all of the above information in front of you before you call – even if you know your UCAS ID inside out and upside down, it’s amazing how many people’s minds go blank when they ring up! Also make the call yourself – once you start chatting, you might find you have lots of questions that pop in to your head.

University phone lines can get very busy so be patient and keep trying. Alternatively, many universities have online Clearing application forms so you can also submit your application via that method too. Admissions Tutors will be constantly checking applications so you should get a decision quickly.

Once you have secured an offer, take a breather and research a bit more about the course and university you might like to go to. You can’t add a Clearing choice until 17:00 on Thursday 13 August so there is plenty of time to ponder.

Good luck!’

Got any questions about Clearing? Put your questions to our helpful advisers on Facebook and Twitter.

Also, check out our video wall for lots of advice on how to use Clearing.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Student finance: how to change your course details and apply for last minute funding

On results day, for better or worse you may end up with unexpected grades. If this is the case you might end up using Clearing or, if you meet and exceed your conditions you’re eligible for Adjustment. Whether it’s Clearing or Adjustment you use it’s important to let Student Finance know of any updated course details.

Mark Lee Kelly, Communications Executive at the Student Loans Company has some words of advice for anyone changing their course at this time of year.

‘Not applied for finance yet? 
If you’ve got a full-time or part-time place at university or college through Clearing or Adjustment and haven’t applied for student finance you need to apply right away, if you require funding.
Applications take at least six weeks to be processed, but we’ll do an initial assessment so you have some money as close to the start of your course as possible. Don’t forget – the sooner you apply the better!

Apply now on our website. If you haven’t already registered, you’ll need to do this first.

Already applied for student finance? 
If you’ve already applied for full-time student finance but decided to change your course, university or college through Clearing or Adjustment, you need to let us know as soon as possible as it might affect what student finance you’re able to get.

It’s easy to change your course, university or college details online; log into your account and then go to: Your Account > Change Your Application > University/College and Course 

Part-time students can update their course, university or college details by downloading and completing a Change of Circumstances form available here.

Advice for EU students – full-time and part-time 
EU students who haven’t been resident in the UK for three years before their course start date can apply for a Tuition Fee Loan. If you haven’t applied for your loan yet you need to do this right away as applications can take around six weeks to be processed. To apply as an EU student download and complete a paper EU15N form available here.

If you’ve already applied for your Tuition Fee Loan and your course, college or university changes you need to let us know right away to make sure your fees are paid. To update your application, download and complete a EUCO1 form.’

If you have any questions about student finance you can call them on 0300 100 0607 or contact them on Facebook and Twitter.

Good luck on results day!

It's not too late to apply...

It’s still not too late to apply for teacher training programmes this year. If you or someone you know is a budding teacher then we’re accepting applications until 15 September, so spread the word! Our search tool contains details of all available courses.

Still not sure if teaching is the right career for you? We spoke to Naeem Anwar from Get Into Teaching who has some words of advice.

‘If you want to teach in England, Get Into Teaching can offer extra help in finding current teacher training vacancies in physics, mathematics, chemistry, computing, languages, design and technology, biology or geography.

To help you along the way, we asked a number of schools and universities for their words of encouragement, and what you should do to prepare a successful application during the summer:

‘It’s never too late… 
To think about teaching – it’s more important to know that it is the right career path for you and that you are committed to working with young people. I work alongside many colleagues who didn’t apply until later in the year. Indeed, I didn’t apply until the summer.’
Louise Watson, Landau Forte College Derby

We keep on recruiting 
‘We don’t stop recruiting until the course is full; we continue to interview and accept candidates up until the programme start date.’
Beth Henderson, Sunderland University 

Can’t find school experience to support your application
‘You can look for opportunities to volunteer at a summer school, in a local youth centre, or as a scout or guide leader. These are all really useful alternative options to gain some experience working with children in an educational environment.’
Caragh Johnson, University of Roehampton 

Show other examples of working with young people 
‘All teaching programmes will be looking for people who have experience with young people, even if not in the classroom. Experience can range from being a teaching assistant in your local school to running a children’s 11-a-side team to teaching English in Vietnam.’
Tom O’Boyle, Ark Schools 

Register now with Get Into Teaching for exclusive assistance in finding current teacher training vacancies this September or support for teacher training in 2016/17.’

If you would like to make an application then visit the UCAS Teacher Training section of our website. If you have any questions on how to apply then send them to us on Facebook or Twitter and our advisers will be more than happy to help.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Changes to maintenance grants and loans

In his Summer Budget 2015, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced changes to the way student support operates for students from England. This change will apply to full-time students who start their studies in the 2016/17 academic year.

What is happening?
Full-time students starting their studies in September 2016 will be eligible for a means tested maintenance loan of up to £8,200. This loan will be paid back in the same way as a tuition fee loan, once you’ve graduated or finished your studies, and are earning over £21,000 a year. Previously, this loan would have taken the form of a non-repayable grant.

When is this happening?
The new maintenance loan arrangements will apply to new students starting full-time courses from 1 August 2016 onwards. Students already in higher education will continue under the old system and will not be expected to pay back their maintenance grant.

How much can I borrow?
The maintenance loan will be based on your household income. The table below provides an indicative guide to the amount you can borrow.

Student studying outside London (household income – £ per annum)
Maximum £8,200
8,200 (maximum loan)
3,821 (minimum loan)

Monday, 20 July 2015

How to apply for UCAS Conservatoires in 5 steps

You can now apply for 2016 UCAS Conservatoire courses on our website. To apply on-time for a music course, we must receive your application by 1 October. If you're applying for dance and drama courses, you must submit your application by 15 January.

Here are five things you need to do to apply...

1. Find the right course for you
The best place to start is our search tool. If you’re not sure which conservatoire or course is right for you; we’ve got lots of great advice. Try attending an open day to get a taste of conservatoire life, as it gives you the opportunity to meet the tutors, speak to current students and check out the campus.

2. Register
When you’re ready to start your application you need to register.  All you have to do is answer questions about yourself and create a password. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be given a username. Make sure you keep a note of your log in details so you don’t have any problems at a later date!

3. Start your application
When you log in, you’ll see this page which shows the sections you need to complete:

Each section must be complete before you can send your application. There’s lots of advice on filling in your application on our website.

When it comes to adding your qualifications, enter every place you’ve received a formal qualification from in the ‘Education’ section.  This should start from the age of 12 onwards. You can search for your schools by clicking on the ‘Add a school/college’ link and then select the ones you’ve attended.

If the school isn’t listed, just click on the ‘My school/college is not listed’ option which will allow you to enter the details in manually.

Once you’ve done this, add your qualifications in the ‘Qualification’ section. Similarly to the Education section, you need to search for the course type. If the qualification isn’t listed, find the different options for ‘Other’ and select the most relevant one to enter the details manually.

When you get to the personal statement we’ve got some great tips on what to include.

4. Send your application
The application fee is £20, which you pay with a credit or debit card. If you need to pay by an alternative method, such as a bank transfer, you can send us your application without the payment. However, you must send a payment to us within 14 days of sending us your application, otherwise it’ll be cancelled.

Each conservatoire will have an audition fee - you can pay for this when you send us your application or by bank transfer if you’re going to pay at a later date. Some conservatoires may waive the audition fee but you need to discuss this with them.

It’s important to arrange your payments as soon as possible as the conservatoires can’t make a decision until you’ve sorted your application AND audition fees for all courses.

5. Wait for your auditions
After your application has been sent and the fees have been paid, the conservatoires will get in touch with you about auditions. All updates will come from the conservatoire and they’ll also be in Track.

So make sure you’re prepared. Auditions may seem daunting but it’s your opportunity to shine. We've put together a handy document to help you make the most of your audition.

Good luck with your application!

If you have any questions about applying then have a look on our website. You can also get in touch with our advisers on Facebook or Twitter who’ll be happy to help.

Get the views of conservatoire applicant Charlotte, who has been sharing her experience in her blog.