UCAS - Congleton High School

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A guide for parents
   Why Higher Education? – Personal
• Independence
• Meet people
• Experience a different part of the country (or world)
• Explore a personal interest in a subject
• Achieve a qualification towards career progression
• Gain transferable skills.
• Move to a new town or city
     Why HE? – social experiences
•Meet and interact with new people from different
backgrounds to you
• Social activities
• Gain independence by cooking, cleaning, and managing
your bills
• Make friends for life!

•Students’ Union is home to sports teams, societies and
further support

•Many universities also have a student newspaper, radio
station and TV channel!
Why HE? – Graduate Opportunities
•Universities teach the skills that employers value
•Lots of employment choice:
   - Professional areas
   - Graduate schemes
   - Non-graduate jobs.
•Two thirds of graduate jobs don’t ask for a specific degree
subject, just that level of education
•Graduates enter professions at a higher level
•Degree and university experiences can enhance your CV
    Why HE? – Graduate Salaries
•A degree is an investment into your future

•Average graduate starting salary is £19,300

•Over a lifetime a graduate will earn 20-25% more
than a non-graduate

•Graduates progress faster than non-graduates
   Choosing where to go and what to
•How many courses can you choose from in the
• Over 50,000
•How many choices are you allowed on your
UCAS form?
•Just 5!
•Where do I start? The ucas website
  Choosing where to go and what to study
Information that may help to make choices:
•Important to select a course that supports career
•Take the Stamford test to find out which careers/ courses
may suit best (
•See parents
•Browse potential jobs ( to give an
indication of courses relevant to a career, salaries and
personal qualities required
•Speak to careers advisers in school.
                Making choices

•Use prospectuses, course brochures, websites

•Check out open days/taster days

•Ask questions/email the relevant department at
                Choosing what to study

Things to consider:
- Single/Joint Honours
- Length of course
- Practical/theory balance
- Teaching/assessment styles
- Career destinations
- Entry requirements
- Professional accreditations
- Work placements.
                     Choosing where to go
Things to consider:
- Distance from home
- Transport links
- Number of sites
- Rural or urban campus
- Cost of living
- Style of facilities City attractions
- Safety/Nightlife
- Cultural and faith support.

-See The Sunday Times Good University Guide
   Choosing where to go - accommodation

Things to consider:
- Guaranteed for first years?
- Catered/self - catered halls
- Internet access
- Private rented
- Facilities
- Distance from campus
- Value for money.
    Which university? – the Russell Group
•    University of Birmingham   •   University of Manchester
•    University of Bristol      •   Newcastle University
•    University of Cambridge    •   University of Nottingham
•    Cardiff University         •   University of Oxford
•    University of Edinburgh
                                •   Queen’s University of
•    University of Glasgow          Belfast
•    Imperial College London
                                •   University of Sheffield
•    King’s College London
                                •   University of Southampton
•    University of Leeds
•    University of Liverpool    •   University College London
•    London School of           •   University of Warwick
                 Applying to UCAS
•Universities and Colleges Admissions Service

•Centralised application processing service

•On-line system and application form

•Secure site, can be worked on anywhere

• Not just used for applying to university:
   -   Stamford test
   -   Entry profiles
   -   UCAS Fair dates.
                      Key Dates
•1 September - form processing begins
•15 October - closing date for Oxbridge, medicine,
veterinary science
• School deadline 21st October 2011
•26 February - UCAS Extra begins (for late applicants,
those that have changed their mind or those who have no
•31 March - majority of decisions made by institutions
•30 June - last day for late applications
               Applying to UCAS
•UCAS processes over 2 million undergraduate
applications a year
•Lots of competition – it is important to have a strong
application form
• Be realistic about choices, for example:
- x2 ambitious entry requirements to aim for
- x1 match to predicted grades
- x2 lower entry requirements to fall back on.
•If can’t decide between courses try and select similar
subjects eg Business and Accounting. This will make
personal statement more focused.
                Applying to UCAS
• Seven   key sections to complete
• Can be completed in any order
• Can return to a section to make changes if necessary
• Help symbol can be found on key sections of the UCAS
form and provides answers to FAQ’s
             The Big Picture
•UCAS application form
  • Personal details
  • Qualifications – include A Levels AND AS
  • Five choices of course on the form
  • Personal statement
  • Reference from tutor
          The Personal Statement
•Carries a lot of weight with universities

• Demonstrates reasons for applying

• Is the first and often only chance to ‘sell yourself’ to
universities chosen

• Gives a flavour of the applicant

• Opportunity to create a good impression to Admissions
                     Top Tips
•Construct the personal statement through key
• Keep sentences short and to the point
• Brainstorm ideas
• Write a draft version and condense it afterwards
• Do not make it specific to one university
           The Personal Statement
•Paragraph 1 -Explain your choice of subject
•Outline why you are interested in the subject(s). Why does the content/
structure of the course appeal to you?
•Does your current study have relevance to your subject choices?
•Demonstrates that you are well motivated and enthusiastic about your
chosen subject area
•Paragraph 2 - Describe your suitability
•What transferable skills have you gained from your current study?
•How are these relevant to your chosen degree subject? Unsure?
Check out course entry profiles (EP’s) at
•Has this study sparked your interest or affected your course choices at
HE level?
•What have you particularly enjoyed?
          The Personal Statement
•Paragraph 3 Longer - term career objectives
•Even if these are broad, include an outline of the field in
which you hope to work
•Detail any work experience, placement or voluntary work,
particularly if relevant to your subject choices
•Identify additional skills that you have gained through part
time/ voluntary work
•Paragraph 4 The person behind the form
•Describe yourself to Admissions Tutors – your skills,
strengths and personality
•academic/ sporting/ leisure achievements and interests
•Are you planning a gap year? If so, what are you planning
to do?
  More Top Tips – parents can help on
•Accuracy – spelling and grammar
•Attention to detail
•Ensure that it is all your own work.
•Use entry profiles (EPs) if you are unsure what to include
•Don’t repeat yourself
•Use positive and enthusiastic language
•Give examples
•Ask for help with editing/redrafting
  What happens to the application
•UCAS acknowledges receipt of your form
• You can track the application process online (using UCAS
track facility)
• University Admissions Tutors assess each application
• Possible invitation to an interview (not required for all
• Decisions/offers made via UCAS track
• Universities send offer letters too
                     Possible offers
•Conditional offer
•Unconditional offer
•Alternative course offer
•Offers may be expressed in either grades or UCAS points,
for example, BBB or 300 UCAS points
        UCAS Points Tariff
Grade      A2          AS
 A*        140          -
 A         120          60
 B         100          50
 C         80           40
 D         60           30
 E         40           20
               What happens next?
•Select two choices – firm and insurance. We recommend 40 UCAS
points difference between each
•Student has now entered into an agreement with these universities. If
they change their mind they will need to by released by the institutions
•They are entering into an agreement (grades permitting) with these
universities so ensure that they are happy to attend either
•Ensure that they reply to all offers before the deadline date (failure to
do so is an instant decline of an offer).
•UCAS Extra – for late applicants and those who change their mind
•Results day
•Decline any offers that they may be holding
•Make single applications to one university at a time
•Once offer is made they can accept/reject
•If the student rejects or is unsuccessful then repeat the
above stages
•Late applications can be made until 30 June

•Late applicants
•More than 50,000 students per year
•Nearly all universities offer places
•Popular courses fill quickly (especially Health and Life
                     Results Day
Students need to:
•Keep the day free – and stay local
•Be brave and collect their results early (10am)
•Charge their mobile phone and top up with credit
•Take their offer letters with them
•Take their UCAS application number with them
•Try and stay calm and relaxed
•Don’t panic!
            If they get the grades
•Log onto UCAS track (updated that day) and check the
status of their offers if they were Conditional
•Contact the university with any questions
•Visit if they have any concerns or queries
•Complete and return the UCAS paperwork
•Organise what to take away
•Arrange accommodation
        If they just miss the grade
•UCAS track – are they holding any offers?
•20-40 points dropped may be room for negotiation (NOT
the case in 2010)
•Phone the university if they are unsure
•Carefully consider ‘change of course’ offers
•Be prepared for interview
•Be flexible with time and offers
•Complete the UCAS paperwork
 If they miss the grades completely
•Don’t panic
•Check that they are not holding any offers on UCAS track
•No offers – UCAS automatically send them a Clearing
letter (passport)
•Go back to original research – check courses and
universities, make sure that they read the small print
•Contact universities
•Verbal offers can be held for up to ten days
• Ring as many universities as they want
• Visit potential choices
• Consider accommodation
• Accept a place
• Organise funding – not difficult!
                Clearing vacancies
•Newspapers – The Independent
• /university websites
•TV and radio
•Use your school’s resources – teachers, computers etc
        What do universities do during
•Run Clearing help lines
•Trained Advisers to provide guidance
•Academic staff/ Admissions Tutors on the phones to make
offers and decisions
•Run Clearing Open Days
-Few days after results (check websites for dates)
-Visit and tour the campus
-Tour the facilities
- Check against their original priorities
   Student Finance - overview
Tuition fees            Living costs

  Tuition fee loan         Maintenance loan

          Means-tested grant

         Bursary from university

      Scholarship from university

      Supplementary income
              Applying for finance
•All financial support is initially applied for online
•Students will need to visit the Student Finance England
website and register their details to begin an application
•For 2011, students apply between 16 March and 31 May
•They will need to provide either their passport number
(which is input into their form) or an original copy of their
birth certificate
•Any further forms that they may require will be sent to
them after they have submitted your initial application. In
many cases this is the only form that they will need to
 Tuition Fees – Graduate Contribution
•Up to £6000 per year for most universities.
•In exceptional cases, universities will be able to charge
higher contributions, up to £9000, if they meet conditions
on widening participation and fair access.
• Fees may vary between courses and universities
•They can study now, pay later – the government will lend
any eligible student the money to pay tuition costs.
               Tuition Fee loan
•Available to all applicants
• Non means-tested
•Amount granted will be linked to the course cost
• Paid directly to the university by Student Finance
• Repaid by the student after graduation
   Means–tested Maintenance Grant
• Up to £3250 per year from Student Finance England
• Grant = non-repayable
• Means-tested (based on household income)
   - Less than £25,000 per year = full grant of £3250
   - Between £25,000-£42,000 = partial grant < £3250
   - More than £42,000 per year = no grant entitlement

• Paid in three instalments (at the start of each term)
• Can spend on living costs/tuition fees
•A bursary is non-repayable money that you qualify for
•Qualification criteria and amounts differ from university to
university, but are often based on the amount of means-
tested grant being received, your household income, or
your home postcode
•Information about an individual university’s criteria and
awards can be found on their website and in their
•Money can be spent on living costs/tuition fees
•A scholarship is non-repayable money that is awarded for
achievement (usually academic)
•Qualification criteria and amounts will differ from university
to university but can often be based on UCAS points,
grades achieved or a specific skill, for example a musical or
sporting achievement
•Information about an individual university’s criteria and
awards can be found on their website and in their
• Money can be spent on living costs/tuition fees
        Student maintenance loan
•To cover living and study costs
•Available to all students, irrespective of income
   • 72% non means-tested
   • 28% means-tested.
•What you get depends on:
   - Household income
   - Where you live and what you study
   - The year of the course that you are on.
•Paid in three instalments direct to the student
        Repayments of tuition and/or
            maintenance loan
•Starts in the April after graduating
• Loan repayments linked to student’s salary:
    - Less than £21,000 = no repayments
    - 9% of income above £21,000.
    - £21,000 threshold will be increased annually in line with inflation etc.
- Interest rate has a progressive taper:
    - Below £21000, no real rate of interest
    - £21000-£41000 – no more than RPI of 3%
    - £41000+ - rate of RPI plus 3%
• Debt belongs to the student and not their parent(s)
• After 30 years, remaining debt is cleared by the government
                 Useful contacts
• 0845 300 5090 8.00am-8.00pm Monday to Friday
                 9.00am-5.30pm Saturday and Sunday
          Student accommodation
•Three different types
   - Halls of residence (most popular choice for first year students)
   - Private rented
   - Living at home

•Sent information once they have chosen their firm and
insurance choice

•Housing usually wont be allocated until after results day
                Halls of Residence
-Great way to meet new people
-Rent includes bills
-Everyone is in the same position - lots of support and advice

• Disadvantages
-Not guaranteed at all universities
-Have to share facilities
-Can’t choose who you live with
                    Private rented

-Can choose who you live with
-Variety of accommodation to choose from
-Flexibility to select the facilities that meet all your requirements

• Disadvantages
 - Rent exclusive of bills
-May have to find your own property/area
-Contracts and legal issues to negotiate
                    Living at home
• Advantages
 - Security/familiarity with area
 - Support of your family
- Can be less expensive

• Disadvantages
- Less independence
- May be isolated from other students
- May miss out on some social events
- Entitled to less loan
                Things to consider
•Is the accommodation guaranteed? (If not what are your
•How much is the security deposit?
•How many people will they be sharing facilities with?
•Are all the bills included in the price? (eg extra hidden costs for
Internet connection)
•Is the accommodation mixed or single sex?
•How far is the accommodation from the campus?

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