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 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, 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)