Access to Higher education tutorial
Thinking of going to University? Where do you start?
You are thinking of going to University when you finish your course. But how do you go about it. Most students find it daunting. How do you decide which course you want to do? There are so many. At the last count there were 37,000 Higher Education courses. Then there is the problem of which University to go to – there are 395 Higher Education providers. How do you apply to get on one of these courses? And then, of course, there is the Personal Statement.
Don’t worry, help is at hand. At Capel you will get all
the support you need in making these vital choices.
Firstly, you have your tutors. They are experts in their field and have lots of experience in getting their students into University. They will know about relevant courses and what they contain. They can help you with your personal statement.
The Careers Team are also here to help. They will come into your classes and do a session with you on ‘Applying to Higher Education’. It will cover everything you need to know about going to University. You can also see them at one of their drop-in sessions in the library (please see flyers for dates and times). At drop-ins you might want them to look over your personal statement, help you with your UCAS application form, help you look for courses. Please come and see them. Their contact details are:
The Careers Team also produce a ‘UCAS Newsletter’ which is updated regularly.
Then there is Moodle. In the following pages and links you will find everything you need to know about applying to University. There is a tutorial which will take you through the process and provide you with lots of really useful information. There are activities you can do. There are some really useful links which will answer all your questions.
Why go to University?
Finding the right course
The application process
Useful websites - Choosing a University course
Unistats - University course and subject comparison site
UCAS - includes everything you need to know about going to University i.e. how to choose a university, which universities do which courses; you apply to university through the ucas website
What University - includes search facilities, reviews and videos
Taster Courses and Open Days
Open days, exhibitions and taster courses are a great way to
find out more about the different courses on offer, the
different universities that are teaching them. You’ll get a
chance to talk to current students and academic staff to find
out if it is really the right choice for you.
Whatever you decide to study, it’s important to do as much
research as possible. Preparing before you attend will give you
the best chance of getting all the information you need to make
Useful websites - Open days, exhibitions and taster courses
It's important to understand how you'll repay any money you borrow. Content provided by Student Finance England.
How much do I repay?
The important thing to remember is that the amount you’ll repay will be based on how much you earn, not how much you borrow.
Once you leave your course, you’ll only repay when your income is above the repayment threshold. The current UK threshold is £25,000 a year, £2,083 a month, or £480 a week.
For example, if you earn £2,250 a month before tax, you’ll repay £15 a month. This is because £2,250 is £167 above the monthly threshold of £2,083, and 9% of £167 is £15.
Look at the table for some more examples of how much you could repay.
INCOME DEDUCTED (9%)
Up to £25,000
If you stop working, or start to earn below the repayment threshold, your repayments will stop until you earn over the threshold.
You’ll make a repayment if you go over the weekly or monthly threshold at any point during the year, for example, if you get a bonus or work overtime. You can request a refund at the end of the tax year if your total income was below the annual repayment threshold.
How and when do I repay?
Any outstanding loan balance will be cancelled 30 years after you’re due to start repaying – even if you haven't repaid any of it.
- Full-time courses – you’ll be due to start repaying the April after you finish or leave your course, but only if you're earning over the repayment threshold. For example, if you graduate in June 2019, you’ll be due to start repaying in April 2020, if you're earning enough.
- Part-time courses – you’ll be due to start repaying the April four years after the start of your course, or the April after you finish or leave your course, whichever comes first, but only if you're earning over the repayment threshold.
How you'll repay depends on what you choose to do after your course:
- If you start work, your employer will automatically take 9% of your income above the threshold from your salary, along with tax and National Insurance.
- If you're self-employed, you’ll make repayments at the same time as you pay tax through self-assessment.
- If you move overseas, you’ll repay directly to the Student Loans Company, instead of having it taken automatically from your pay. The repayment threshold could be different from the UK, which means the amount you repay could be different. Find out more about repaying from overseas.
What about interest?
Interest is charged from the day the Student Loans Company makes your first payment to you or your uni or college, until your loan is repaid in full or cancelled.
The interest rate is based on the Retail Price Index or RPI, which measures changes to the cost of living in the UK. The interest rate is updated once a year in September, using the RPI from March of that year.
It's important to remember that the amount of interest you're charged doesn't affect the amount you'll repay each month.
How much interest you're charged depends on your circumstances:
- When you're at uni or college – while you're studying, up until the April after you leave your course, the interest charged will be RPI plus 3%.
- When you've left your course – from the April after you've left your course, interest will be based on your income, up to a maximum of RPI plus 3%.
- If you don't keep your details up-to-date – you'll be charged RPI plus 3%, whatever your income, until the Student Loans Company has all the information they need.
Useful websites - student finance
Preparing for University
So, you've received an offer, aced the exams and are going to university. Don't just put your feet up. There are things you need to plan before you get there.
As soon as you know you’ve got a place at university, you’ll need to plan ahead.
Going to university is a great experience but it’s also a dramatic lifestyle change. As well as packing your bags, you need to sort out important stuff like money, accommodation and transport.
Read the following checklist before you set off for uni to ensure you’re well prepared.
- Receive your financial notification. This document tells you how much student finance you will receive and when it will be paid. Put this somewhere safe: you'll need to take it with you when you register to make sure you get your money
- Complete the declaration that comes with the financial notification letter and return it.
- Earn money with a summer job if you want to build up your finances before you leave.
- Open student bank account. Try and do this as soon as you receive your UCAS confirmation letter confirming your place at uni. Banks will ask for sight of this. You’ll want a bank with a branch close to campus. Do some research and shop around for the best deal.
- Plan a weekly budget to help make your money last while you study.
See www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk (Managing your money, budgeting and student finance survival tips) for more money information.
- You may want to take out room contents insurance or insure separately a bike tablet or laptop. This has to be done independently, although you should check that your possessions are not covered by your parents’ insurance before you take out a separate policy.
- You may have a Residential Advisor or Residence Tutor who is there to give pastoral support. These people are worth seeking out, as they may be good contacts for part-time work, events, news and key tips and advice.
- Get vaccinated if you aren't already. Diseases like meningitis can spread quickly at uni, especially if you're living in halls, so it's important to be up to date with your vaccinations.
- Get your NHS number or medical card. This will make it easier for your to register with a doctor when you arrive. If you don't have it already, your doctor should be able to help.
Housing and special requirements
- If you have a disability, contact the university’s Disability Office or student services, to discuss any specific requirements you may have.
- Organise accommodation. This is really important - don’t expect it to be done for you! Many universities guarantee to find you accommodation in your first year – though check if this is the case with your university. Maximise your chances by responding promptly to all correspondence via email or online. It is generally felt that university-managed or university-owned accommodation is best in the first year if you are planning to live away from home.
- When you have sorted out your accommodation, your signature (or on-line conformation) will be required and you must read the small print relating to all contracts. They are important.
- You will also have to redirect your post, especially those bank statements. You need to stay on top of your spending!
For more information on accommodation go to www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk/preparing-to-go/where -to-live
Dealing with the university
- Read enrolment instructions. Where do you need to be and when during that first week?
- Get your room details if you have a place in halls. Your university should send you this information in advance, so get in touch if you don't hear anything - you don't want to arrive and find that you don't have anywhere to live.
- Tell your university anything they need to know about your situation - for example, if you have a disability, or you need to arrive early or late. The sooner they know, the better they will be able to help with your situation.
- For more information on advice for students with disabilities please see www.ucas.com/ucas/undergraduate/getting-started-individual-needs/students-disabilities
- Read the information sent to you from your department and any recommended reading that has been given. You might want to delay buying text books until you start the course. That way you can be certain they are necessary, and you may be able to buy cheaper second-hand copies on campus after you start. However, if you can do some reading in advance you'll have a head start on your course.
- Most universities will have a dedicated website (e.g. UniversityX.ac.uk/welcome) and moderated Facebook group for new students. Get to know your university and fellow students before you arrive – visit your university and student’s union online, and join the Facebook group.
What to take
- Check that your computer is compatible with the university’s network. You may need to install a wireless card if your pc or laptop isn’t wifi enabled.
- Buy a map of the area where you will be living and studying.
- Pack your bags. Don’t go overboard. Remember you may have to move out again during the holidays. There’s no point lugging everything back and forth. Take only what you need.
- See www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk/preparing-to-go/after-results-day---get-ready-for-uni/ten-essentials-to-take-to-university/ for more information on what to take
- Sort out your transport from home to university. You might get a lift from a family member or friend, but if you have to book a flight, train or coach, book in advance and you’ll save yourself a packet.
- Look up public transport details before you arrive - it will be one less thing to do once you're at university.
- Student Rail/Coach Cards are good value for money even if you don’t think you need one at first. A three-year deal may also save you money and you can normally get a replacement if you lose it. Your University town or city may also offer cheap discounted public transport cards.
And when you get there….
- See www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk/preparing-to-go/after-results-day/get-ready-for-uni/top-tips-for-freshers-week
(All this information taken from www.brightknowledge.org/knowledge-bank/independent-living/starting-univerity/prepring-for-uni-checklist. Also from www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk/preparing-to-go/after-results-day-get-ready-for-uni)
UK students are increasingly considering the option of studying abroad, particularly since the introduction of higher tuition fees.
The opportunity for an adventure attracts many students to international study and a period of time spent abroad has also become a valuable addition to the CV in today’s increasingly difficult graduate employment market. The number of courses taught in English is growing across Europe and the creation of the European Higher Education Area under the Bologna Process has made universities on the continent a much more credible alternative to studying at home. Universities in the US, Australia and Asia are also keen to recruit English students and international league tables can provide a good starting point when it comes to researching universities around the globe. With UK institutions now able to charge up to £9,000 per year for courses, the cost of studying at home is no longer even significantly less than the cost of choosing to go abroad to countries such as Australia, the US and Canada. In Europe it can be even cheaper to study abroad? However, while on the face of it a number of European countries appear to be cheaper places to study, in most countries there are no student loans available to UK students to cover the costs. Students who study at a UK institution are able to access loans that will cover both their tuition fees and their living costs. So although the overall cost may be higher than in some countries in the EU, the upfront cost is much lower.
(This information is taken from
Useful websites - studying overseas
What to consider when you are thinking of studying abroad
The complete University guide - for more information on studying abroad
The Erasmus programme - an EU exchange programme
Information about studying at American Universities