Page 1

UNIVERSITY What to do & ME: now and next

Gm Higher - Who are we? Greater Manchester Higher is a collaboration of universities and further education colleges from across Greater Manchester, who are working together to provide high quality impartial information, advice and guidance about higher education.

This book belongs to

2 / www.gmhigher.ac.uk

Contents What is Higher Education? Why Consider Higher Education? What is Studying Higher Education Like? Teaching Higher Education – How to Get There Types of Qualifications What to Do and When The Student Experience Student Accommodation Student Support Student Finance Your Passport to Higher Education Interview Your Teacher Where Can I Study Higher Education in Greater Manchester Higher Education Glossary Useful Websites

Introduction 2 3 4 5 8 18 20 24 26 28 30 32 35

You might be starting to think about what GCSEs to take, or you might have just finished taking them and are heading to sixth form or college. No matter what stage of school you are at, it’s a great idea to start thinking about higher education as an option for your future.

36 37 38


What is Higher Education? Higher education refers to qualifications and courses that you can take after finishing Level 3 study such as A-levels, BTEC Extended Diplomas and Access courses. Most people study higher education straight after sixth form or college but there is no age limit. There are lots of higher education qualifications to choose from – we’ve listed a few below and we’ll go into each one in more detail later. • Bachelors degrees • Foundation degrees • Higher and Degree Apprenticeships • Higher National Certificates and Diplomas


You can study higher education at universities and further education colleges – there are over 400 higher education institutions in the UK and over 90,000 courses to choose from. With all that choice, there’s bound to be something that will interest you.

Why Consider Higher Education? Financial and Career Benefits Higher education graduates:• On average earn more money over a lifetime than nongraduates. • Have access to a wider range of career opportunities and higher paid jobs. • Can ‘Fast Track’ within certain careers such as the Army or the Police. • Develop skills for employment, from general transferable skills such as organisation to hands-on work experience to develop specific skills for a certain career.

Student Experience • Study a subject you are passionate about or discover something brand new. • Choose to move away from home and start living independently. • Meet people from all over the world. • Get involved with the Students’ Union and do something exciting or unusual with your spare time by joining a club or society. • Possibility of studying abroad or completing a work placement.

Did you know? On average higher education graduates earn more money than non-graduates and have access to a wider range of career opportunities.


What is Studying Higher Education Like? Higher education is different to school – we’ve summed up the major differences in the table below:



Higher Education

Wear uniform

No uniform – wear your own clothes

Call teachers ‘Miss’ or ‘Sir’

Call your teachers by their first name

You have to go to school

You choose to go to higher education

You have to study lots of subjects

You choose what subject you study

Lessons end when the bell sounds

There are no bells!

Lessons all take place in one building,

Lessons are often spread out

or cluster of buildings

across a campus

Live with a parent or guardian

Opportunity to move out of home

School is free

Higher education is not free

Everyone gets to go to school

You must meet certain entry

requirements to study higher education

You attend school at the same

Your timetable will be different everyday, if you

time everyday

don’t have any lessons you don’t have to be there

Teaching Higher education is taught in a variety of ways - we’ve defined a few of the most common types of higher education classes below. What type of classes you have will depend on the type of course you choose to study. Lectures: Take place in lecture theatres and focus on the presentation of information and analysis by a member of teaching staff. It’s a great way of presenting lots of information to many people at once. If you go to one of the larger universities, you may have hundreds of people in one lecture.

Seminars/Tutorials/Workshops: These classes provide you with the opportunity to discuss and interact in smaller groups. They are similar to the classes you have at school. The idea is to help you develop your knowledge and skills in a more interactive and personal way than a lecture.

Independent Study: University level study requires you to learn independently and to carry out your own research. There will be plenty of resources and help throughout your study to help you develop these skills, from the university or college library to online journals, podcasts, electronic books etc.


Lab Classes: If you study a science subject at higher education you will probably have lab classes. These often take place in a laboratory, but not always. Lab classes have elements of lectures and seminars but will also have a practical or applied element to them i.e. you will be doing things! They are led by members of teaching staff and you may be carrying out experiments or developing ideas you want to research. Practical Classes: lots of courses have practical classes, particularly art and technology courses. For example drama courses will have performance classes, fine art courses will mostly consist of practical classes in art studios.


Health and Social Care Courses: Health, social care and teaching courses require students to complete a series of work placements as these courses qualify you for a profession when you’ve graduated. For example nursing courses require you to complete a series of shifts in hospitals, teaching courses require you to complete placements in schools. It’s an excellent way to gain hands on experience and prepare you for being fully qualified.

Study Abroad: Some universities offer students the opportunity to study at an overseas university for one semester or an entire year. It can be a great way to experience a different part of the world and shows employers you are adaptable and have self-confidence. The location and duration of this opportunity will depend on where and what you choose to study. It may also mean that you study for one extra year. Industry Experience: For Bachelor degrees this may be referred to as a Year in Industry or Sandwich degree. It is the opportunity to spend a year working in the industry related to your higher education course. This is usually taken in the second or third year and gives you a great introduction to the reality of working in your chosen field. You get paid and develop key skills that employers will be looking for. Some HNDs and HNCs are designed for people already working in a particular field, to further develop their skills in this field.


The way you are assessed in higher education might be different to what you have been used to at school. We’ve listed some of the main types of assessment below. The way in which you are assessed will depend on what course you choose to study • Exams these may be essay based, short answers, multiple choice or problem based. • Coursework essays • Presentations • Lab reports • Work placements (for some practical courses such as medicine, healthcare and teaching) • Portfolios (for art and technology courses) • Group work • Exhibitions (for art and design courses) • Performance (for performing arts courses) • Practical exams (for courses like veterinary sciences, dentistry, chemistry, sports science)


Higher Education How to Get There If you think higher education might be something you would like to pursue it’s time to start thinking about what qualifications you need. The earlier you start thinking about this, the more higher education options will be available to you later.


Step 1 - GCSEs Why are they so important? If you are thinking that you would like to go on to study higher education, it’s important to understand that universities and colleges may ask for a specific number of GCSEs (or their equivalent). The number varies depending on the university or college you want to apply for but you will usually need a minimum of five or six GCSEs with grades A*- C/9-4. GCSE English or another standard level equivalent qualification is very often required at grade C/4 or 5, at many universities and colleges this is a universal standard entry requirement for any course. Mathematics is also often required at grade C/4 or 5. Some courses will ask for much higher GCSE grades – some medical courses ask for five A*/8 or 9 grades, or even more and for some Business degrees, sometimes a grade A/7, or at least a grade B/6 in GCSE Maths is required.

Years 8/9 – Choosing your GCSEs The subjects you choose at GCSE are unlikely to limit your higher education options as you always have to take a core set of subjects. However, if you know what you want to study at higher education it might be worth taking a bit of time to have a look at some of the institutions that offer that subject to see if they do ask for anything specific at GCSE. For example for a degree in English, some universities look for applicants to have a GCSE in a modern or classical language or for a degree in Psychology a good level of achievement of a grade B/6 in Maths is often required and a grade B/6 in Science may sometimes be required.

Here are some of our Dos and Don’ts when it comes to choosing your GCSE subjects Do • Pick subjects you enjoy – you will probably get a better mark! • Speak to your parents/carers for advice. • Speak to your teachers for advice. • Make a decision that is best for you! Don’t • Choose a subject because all your friends are taking it. • Choose a new subject without finding out a bit about it, like what do you actually study, how is it taught etc.? • Feel pressured into a decision that is not right for you – if you are feeling pressured, speak to your teachers or careers advisor.


Step 2 - Further Education Further education is the qualifications you take after your GCSEs, usually at sixth form or college. This is also referred to as FE or Level 3 study.

Qualifications There are a range of FE qualifications available to you and we have listed a few of the main ones below, which should help you decide which qualification is best for you. A-levels A-levels are academic qualifications and are taught in a very similar way to school. • Studied full time over 2 years. • Study 3 or 4 subjects of your choice, or take a combination of A-levels and BTECs. • Assessed by coursework and exams. • Allows you to study either a broad range of subjects, or focus on a specific area such as science or art. • Accepted by all universities, including the most academically competitive universities.


BTECs and Diplomas (such as OCR Nationals) These are split into Applied General qualifications and Technical Levels but they are very similar in terms of how they are taught and how the learning is structured. • Studied full time over two years. • BTECs and diplomas take a practical or hands-on approach to learning. • Assessed entirely by coursework. • Suited to those who learn by ‘doing’. • Allow you to study one subject in depth over two years, or take BTECs in combination with one or two A-levels. • Accepted by the majority of universities – however some of the most competitive universities do not accept BTECs or will specify that they must be taken with A-levels. • Applied General qualifications focus on developing a mix of transferable knowledge and skills that can lead to further study at university or an apprenticeship. • Technical Level qualifications focus on developing specific skills for a certain job. They can lead to employment or further study in a related area via university or an apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships Apprentices do a real job in a real workplace and get paid for it. • Designed to help you develop the skills you need for a specific job. • Study alongside work for a qualification related to the job you are doing. The exact qualification will vary depending on the apprenticeship. • Apprentices will be in work for at least 30 hours a week. • Take between 1-5 years to complete. • Apprentices get paid at least the national minimum apprenticeship wage, but many employers will pay more. • If you wish to go to university after completing an apprenticeship it is worth contacting the universities you are interested in going to, to see if they will accept the apprenticeship you plan on doing. • Some apprenticeships allow you to gain a higher education qualification; these are called Degree Level or Higher Level Apprenticeships and are offered by some universities and further education colleges. You usually start these when you are 18 rather than 16. • Level 2 apprenticeships are called traineeships and are equivalent to GCSEs and can prepare you to study a level 3 apprenticeship. Other qualifications These can include NVQs and City and Guilds Qualifications. • Vocational qualifications related to specific job areas. • Very practical and hands on. • Sometimes you get these qualifications as part of an apprenticeship. • These courses are generally not designed to lead to university level study and are unlikely to be accepted by universities for entry onto higher education courses. • The exception to this would be Access to HE courses which are studied by people who have been out of education for a period of time and want to progress to a higher education course.

Further Education – Where to study If you choose to study A-levels or BTECs, or a combination of both, you will need to choose where to study. This could be at:• Your school sixth form if it has one. • Further Education College. • Sixth Form College. Here are some things to consider when choosing where to study your further education qualifications. • Do you want to stay somewhere familiar or go somewhere new? • Do you want to study at a big institution where there are lots of students, or at a smaller institution where there are a smaller number of students? • Does the school or college offer the qualifications or subjects you want, or need to take? • Do you meet the entry requirements? • How easy is it to get to – will you be able to get there in time? • Do they have the facilities that are important to you, such as art studios or sports provision?


Which subjects to study In Year 11 you will choose what to study at further education and this will directly affect what courses are available to you at higher education. If you are thinking that you would like to carry on studying after sixth form and college then Year 11 is the time you need to consider the broad way in which certain subject combinations can lead to broad groups of higher education courses. You can attend open days at sixth form colleges, school sixth forms and further education colleges to help you get an idea of what the different subjects and qualifications will be like to study. The Humanities and Academic Arts Consider the following A-level combinations; History, English Literature, French, Sociology Geography, English Language, Law, Art You don’t have to take all Humanities subjects, but should choose at least two Humanities subjects at A-level Or BTECs in Health and Social Care, Business, Travel & Tourism, Law Choosing essay based subjects at FE means the majority of arts, humanities, business and law courses will be open to you in higher education, but you may not be able to apply for science or maths courses.


The Scientist Interested in pursuing Science? Consider the following A-Level combinations; Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Maths Chemistry, Physics, Maths and one non science subject such as Art or Politics. You don’t have to take all Science subjects, choosing a broader fourth option suits a lot of people and won’t affect your chances of getting into a science higher education course. Or BTECs in Applied Science, Mathematics & Statistics, Sport Science, Forensic Science. Science at higher education is usually divided into life or human sciences and physical sciences. If you are leaning towards life sciences choose Biology and Chemistry A-levels or Biology based BTECs. For medicine, dentistry and veterinary science courses you will need to take both Biology and Chemistry A-levels, they won’t accept BTECs. If you think Physical Sciences like engineering would be your thing then stick with Maths and Physics and similar BTECs.

The Artist For those wanting to pursue study and careers in creative industries. Consider the following A-level combinations; Graphic Design, Fine Art, Design Technology, Drama Music, Drama, Theatre Studies, Film Studies and one non art subject such as Chemistry or Maths. Or BTECs in subjects like Performing Arts, Music Technology, Acting, Dance If you want to study Music you will need to take it at A-level to be able to apply to most universities. If you want to go into acting or drama then your subject choice doesn’t matter too much as you will be accepted based on an audition or portfolio.

The Linguist

The All Rounder

If you think you might want to study a foreign language course at higher education, most courses will require you to have taken the language you intend to study at A-level. For example to study a French degree you need to have taken French at A-level. This is not always the case but is definitely something to research before making your decision.

For those who are good at a lot of different types of subjects, or for those who really aren’t sure what to pursue at higher education.

Students that study languages are highly sought after by universities for language degrees or courses with foreign language elements to them. The Technology Whizz Want to pursue a career in computing, web and digital design, social media, multimedia, IT or another form of new technology? There are lots of options available to you at FE.

An all-rounder is someone who wants to keep their options open by taking a broad range of subjects and might take the following kind of A-level combination; Maths, English Literature, Biology, Art. Physics, Geography, Urdu, Drama Whilst you wouldn’t be able to go on to study medicine or dentistry with these subjects, a great deal of higher education courses would be available to you and you can decide whether you want to choose the Science/Humanities/ Arts route whilst you’re studying at sixth form or college.

You can choose A-level subjects such as Graphic Design, Art, Computing or IT. Or choose from a range of BTECs including Interactive Media, Graphic Design, IT or Computing.


Step 3 - Higher Education With over 90,000 higher education courses to choose from, it can be a bit scary trying to work out which one is right for you. Start by thinking about what you enjoy studying at sixth form or college? What is it about the subject that you like?

Do you want a particular career?

Remember, the choice of higher education courses is huge – if you like a particular subject at school, there might be something very similar available at higher education that you could never have studied before. For example you might really enjoy a BTEC in IT and go and study a Higher National Diploma in Games Development, or you might really enjoy Biology and go on to an Anatomical Sciences Degree.


Do you want to keep your career options open?

Do you want to know more about a particular subject?

Is it practical and hands-on or does it involve research and independent study?

Choosing a Higher Education Institution Once you have thought about what you want to study you need to think about where you want to study. Usually, you will be studying for a minimum of 3 years, so you need to be happy at the institution you choose. Universities and further education colleges come in all shapes and sizes and the following factors are something to consider when making your choice. Course Content If you want to study something like English Literature, this is likely to be offered by the majority of higher education institutions, but the course content – what you actually study – will be different from place to place. One institution might offer more modules in poetry, and another might offer more modules in American fiction. Make sure the institutions you choose to apply for have courses which suit your particular interests in your chosen subject.

Assessment How is the course assessed at each institution, is there one course at one institution that suits you more than another? For example do you want to go somewhere where everything is assessed by exams or would you prefer a variety of assessment methods, such as presentations and group projects?

Teaching How is the course taught – does that suit your learning style? Is it all lectures or are some courses more focused on small group work?

There are higher education institutions all across the UK

Home or Away Lots of students use university as the chance to take the step of moving away from home – to gain independence and live in a new place. Other students prefer to stay at home and study at an institution close to them – the choice is completely yours. Make sure you do what is best for you. See our guide to student accommodation (page 26-27) for more information.


City or Country Universities are located in a variety of different types of locations. Some are in the middle of bustling cities like London, Leeds and Cardiff; others are set out of towns in more rural locations like Lancaster, Warwick or York and are self-contained campuses, almost like mini-towns. The student experience will be different depending on the location, so pick somewhere you think will be able to offer you the student experience that will suit you. Entry requirements Different institutions will have different entry requirements for the same course. At one institution you might need AAA in A-levels at another it might be BBB or a Merit Merit Pass at BTEC. Don’t be afraid to push yourself to do the best that you can, but also make sure you are being realistic as universities will use your predicted grades to help them decide whether to make you an offer to study with them.

Big or Small Higher education institutions vary hugely in size. There are advantages to both large and small institutions. The biggest universities have over 35,000 students; the average size of a university is between 18,00024,000 students. Or, if you want somewhere quieter you could look at smaller universities or some further education colleges that offer HE provision. Facilities The quality of the academic facilities that will be available to you as a student are an important factor to consider. What is the library like? Are there enough computers to use? How good are the laboratories or the teaching facilities? Also if you have particular interests in something like sport or art then you might want to consider whether an institution has facilities that will allow you to pursue these interests.

Work Experience or Study Abroad Some institutions will offer you the chance to study at an overseas university for a year, or to take a year’s work placement to gain on the job experience in your chosen field. Both of these options are a great way to build on your transferable skills.

How to find out more information Every higher education institution has a website which will detail what courses they offer as well as facts and information about student life, accommodation etc. Open days are a fantastic way to find out about an institution, view facilities and accommodation, speak to current students and get a general feel of a place. www.opendays.com


Step 4 - How to Apply The Applicant’s Journey

You apply for higher education when you are in Year 13/final year of college and sixth form. Do I have to apply through UCAS? Universities only accept applications to their courses via UCAS. Further education colleges and apprenticeships may accept direct applications – make sure you check first.

UCAS is an organisation that manages applications to higher education courses in the UK. You should learn all about UCAS when you are in Year 13 or your final year of college. Help with applications Applying to higher education might seem like a daunting prospect – ask your parents, teachers and advisors for help.

Pick your courses and institutions You can use UCAS to apply for a maximum of five higher education courses. These can all be for the same subjects at different institutions or you might choose to apply for multiple courses at one or two institutions – the choice is yours. Applying • You will need to complete a UCAS form online. Or if you are applying directly to a college or apprenticeship, you will need to contact them to ask them what their application process is. • On the UCAS form you will need to fill in lots of personal information and your exam results so far. • You will write a personal statement about why you want to study the course you are applying for. • Make sure you speak to your teachers and advisors about how to write a good personal statement as this part of the application process can make a real difference to your chances of getting offered a place on that course. • You will also need your school and college to write a reference for you and provide your predicted Level 3 qualification grades. Offers UCAS send your application to each institution you have applied for. Each institution will make an assessment and process a decision about whether they want to offer you a place on their course. They might want you to attend an interview or assessment day before making a decision. They will either make you an offer to study or they will make your application unsuccessful. You will be able to access the institutions’ decisions on UCAS Apply and Track.


Types of qualifications Undergraduate qualifications are the first step of higher education. There are a few different types of higher education qualifications, which can be split into three groups: academic, vocational and apprenticeships. • Academic qualifications focus on developing knowledge about a particular subject or topic and develop skills in independent learning and research. • Vocational qualifications also develop a knowledge base so that you can learn important theory but they offer more practical learning opportunities and link to specific careers or jobs. • Apprenticeships can result in obtaining either an academic or vocational higher education qualification, but a large part of your time will be spent in work rather than the classroom.


See charts on next pages

A levels and AS levels


Academic Qualifications


Between LEVEL

Foundation Year or Year 0


Bachelors Degree Year 1



A one year course to prepare students for a Bachelors degree

r 3 years full time

• Typically studied fo inars, labs ht by lectures, sem • Taugpr actical classes and







Bachelors Degree Year 2

Bachelors Degree Year 3

Bachelors Degree Year 4 and above

Masters Degree

ent study

independ • Focures on search and

university but also

y studied at • Usuall ation colleges red at further educ offe

Postgraduate study offered by Universities, can include professional courses such as teaching qualifications (PGCE) or Legal Practice Courses (LPC) which is part of the training to become a solicitor

continued on p.22


What to do and when?




• Think about what you enjoy and what you’re good at. • Explore new and different subjects.


• Start thinking about what subjects you’d like to study for GCSE. You will be picking your options in either year 8 or 9. Pick courses YOU enjoy and/or are good at. • Talk to your teachers and family – but remember it’s YOUR choice.

ACTION: Are there any GCSE subjects you need for the higher education course you want to study? Check on www.ucas. com and institution’s websites.

• You may be starting your GCSEs and taking mock exams. Try your best but don’t worry too much if you don’t do as well as you’d like – you still have time to improve. • Start thinking about what you’d like to do in the future. You may have the chance to go on a university visit and get work experience, these will help you in your decision-making process.

ACTION: Is there work experience or voluntary experience you can get which links to the career you have in mind?




• Your final year at school will be busy with exams- make sure you start revising early and create a revision planner. • You will need to decide what to do next – visit local colleges/ sixth forms to see where you’d like to go. • Think about the subjects you want to continue with in the future.

ACTION: Find out what subjects and qualifications are best for the higher education course or career you are interested in. Some courses will require you to take certain subjects and types of qualifications.

This is your first year at sixth form or college and you’ll be starting the courses you’ve chosen to study. You should also be preparing to apply to higher education: • Research courses and institutions. • Visit Open Days and UCAS Fairs. • Find out about the higher education application process (visit www.ucas.com). • Try and get relevant work experience or do some volunteering. • Do you have enough relevant experience and things to talk about for your UCAS personal statement? If not, it’s not too late to do something about it!

ACTION: Start to work on your personal statement – this is a very important part of the application process.



In your final year at sixth form or college you will be completing your higher education application early in the year – so be prepared! • Register on the UCAS website (note your username and password). • Make sure you know your school/ college deadline for applying (this will be much earlier than the UCAS deadline). • Double check course details and entry requirements BEFORE applying. • Try to attend visit days at the institution when they make you an offer. • Respond within the deadlines set by UCAS or the institutions you have applied to. • Apply for Student Finance and accommodation (if applicable) early.

ACTION: Remember your results this year will be important so work hard! Plan your exam revision and keep on top of any coursework.


BTECs, NVQs, City and Guilds


Higher National Certificate (HNC)

Vocational Qualifications



– can sometimes

Foundation Degree (FdA) LEVEL


Higher National Diploma (HND)

ars full-time • Two yedie which takes longer be stu d part time, th es academic study wi • Combin work place learning a focus with employers with • Designpaedrticu lar career on a on colleges died in fur ther educati stu lly ica yp T • up to sometimes be topped • Can ch e elors degre a Ba

the option

rs full-time with • Two yea to study part-time d to teach practical skills • Designe for a specific career colleges died in fur ther education Ty • pically stu to s be topped up • Can somloretisme degree a Bache




study part-time

full-time with the option to • One year to h practical skills for a specific career • Designedstudteac colleges • Typically ied in further education

Foundation Degree Top Up

• Entry straight into the final year of a Bachelors degree • On completion you will get a Bachelors degree • Typically studied at university



Level 3 Apprenticeship


job or profession

• Focus on a particular dying g a paid job, whilst stu fication • Workin ali qu on ati rds a higher educ


towa related to that job



Higher Level Apprenticeships




depe e most common the apprenticeship, th HNDs and , Cs ones are NVQs, HN s ee gr Foundation De

Higher Level Apprenticeships

• Focus on a particular job or profession • Working a paid job, whilst studying towards



on you obtain

act qualificati • The ex d level of nds on the length an

a degree-level higher education qualification related to that job

Degree Level Apprenticeships

• A degree level apprenticeship is a type

of higher level apprenticeship that leads to a degree level qualification such as a Bachelors degree or Master degree


The Student Experience Higher education institutions work hard to make sure they offer their students brilliant teaching and excellent subjects, but they also want to make sure you enjoy your time at their institution by offering a great range of services. There is something for everybody when it comes to student life. You can get involved as much or as little as you like. See our guide to the student experience below. The Students’ Union The Students’ Union is an organisation at university that is run by students for students. It is the hub of social activity, entertainment and student campaigns. Every year elections are held for positions of responsibility in the Union and students are voted in to positions like President, or Diversity Officer. Depending on the size of the Students’ Union, there might be a newspaper, TV channel or radio station that you could get involved with. There will be social spaces to spend time with your friends, shops, cafes and bars, table tennis, pool and maybe an Xbox or two. Many Students’ Unions have live music venues where you can go and watch your favourite bands, dance the night away, watch comedy or drama productions. Your student ID card will give you great student discounts at loads of high street shops and restaurants.

Societies • Student societies consist of a group of students who share a common interest and want to spend time exploring that interest or participating in activities to do with that interest. • In the first week of the year the Students’ Union run a societies fair where you can sign up to any society you like the sound of. • The range of societies on offer is huge and extremely varied. From football to Ultimate Frisbee, drama to rock music, Islam to Hare Krishna. • Your every interest will be catered for and if it’s not and you can find other students who also share your interest you can set up your own society.


Sport Sport is played at competitive and social levels at higher education. There is the chance to carry on sports you have enjoyed at school like rugby or netball, but there are often lots of new sports on offer like martial arts and rock climbing. If you take your sport seriously, university is a great place to further your abilities. There are often superb facilities where you can train, attend organised practises and coaching sessions and if you make it onto one of the teams then you can travel around the country competing against other universities. These opportunities are also available at some further education colleges, but as they are smaller institutions, the sporting facilities are also smaller.

Part Time Work and Volunteering There are lots of opportunities to get a part time job at university or college to help give you some extra money. You could work at the Students’ Union shop, a local supermarket or act as a university student ambassador.

There are also plenty of volunteering options available to help you gain valuable work experience and increase your skills. From working on campaigns, to getting involved in local community (Everyone at university across the country gets Wednesday afternoons projects, or travelling overseas to free from lectures and teaching and assist in humanitarian work – there this is often when the sports teams will be something really amazing to get involved with. play their matches and games.)

Student Support The Students’ Union is often where you will find student support services. Here they offer students support with any difficulties they might encounter during their studies. It is completely free of charge and provides impartial and confidential advice or counselling. They can help with a broad range of issues such as budgeting, accommodation and personal problems. Whilst we hope you never need to access these services, it’s important to know that the support is there if you need it. See our support section for more information.


Student Accommodation If you choose to go to university or college and you want to move away from home you will have the chance to live in university owned accommodation know as Halls of Residence in your first year or maybe longer. Further education colleges do not usually have student accommodation but can help you find housing solutions nearby. There are lots of different types of accommodation on offer - have a look through our university accommodation frequently asked questions guide. What’s the difference between ‘catered’ and ‘selfcatered’ accommodation? • In catered accommodation you will have your breakfast and evening meal cooked for you. You’ll eat in a big dining room with all your friends. It is more expensive, but then you won’t be spending much money on buying your own food. The living quarters tend to involve a long corridor with lots of bedrooms. Then there will be a small shared kitchen and bathrooms.

Will I have to share a bathroom? Most universities offer a choice between having your own ensuite and sharing a bathroom. Ensuite rooms tend to be more expensive and you aren’t always guaranteed to get one. If you do share a bathroom it will only be with members of the same sex.

Do I get to choose who I live with? Not normally, unless there are special circumstances. Most • Living in a self-catered halls means universities do try to separate undergraduate and postgraduate you will be doing all your own students so you will usually be cooking. They are generally selfliving with people your own age. contained flats with 4-10 people Some universities offer single sex sharing a kitchen and a couple of halls if this is something bathrooms. It can be a great way you would prefer. to learn how to cook and get a greater sense of independence.


How much does it cost? This depends on where you study, whether you go catered or self-catered or if you want your own bathroom. There is usually something to suit every budget and you can also look at private halls. Private halls are student accommodation that is not owned by a university but offer very similar facilities. These are often more expensive. Will I live right next to the University? It depends where you choose to study. Some universities have their halls right next to where the teaching buildings are, others are a short walk, bus or car journey away.

What’s it like when you first move in? Leaving home for the first time is a big step and it is totally normal to be feeling nervous, scared and excited about your first day. Most students find the first day or two a bit overwhelming but you soon realise everyone is in the same position as you and everyone wants to make friends. There are universities who offer things like ‘quiet halls’ for students who want a quieter student experience and want to be surrounded by others who feel the same.

What about after the first year? Again, this depends on where you study. Some universities may offer you the option of staying in halls for the duration of your study. A lot of students choose to move out of halls and get a student house or flat in the local area. Here you’ll be furthering your own independence by budgeting for bills etc.

Living at home With so many higher education institutions across the country, there is more than likely going to be one very close to where you currently live. There are benefits to living at home whilst studying. • You won’t miss out on the student experience as there are still lots of opportunities to meet new people on your course and there is often a ‘living at home’ society run by other students who have chosen to stay at home. • Save money on things like rent and laundry. • You’ll still get a student loan to help you with transport costs, books etc. – see our finance section for more information.


Student Support There is lots of support available to you at higher education - make the most of it by seeking it out. Pastoral Support Pastoral support is provided to further your development and life outside of academic study. It is provided in many different ways and will vary between institutions. • Personal tutors – an academic member of staff who will offer advice and support through your studies. • Counselling services – fully trained counsellors offer advice on any personal issues. Regular appointments and drop-in services are available. • Specialist advisors – for advice on things like funding, finance, studying abroad or accommodation. Academic Support Higher education is an exciting and fulfilling experience but studying at university level can face you with new challenges. Whether it’s taking a little while to get used to the new way of independent learning, or if personal issues are distracting you from your studies there is support available. Your university or Students’ Union might offer study skills sessions, courses in time management and research skills as well as one-to-one mentoring and careers advice. Your course might offer revision sessions or drop-in sessions where you can come in and ask for help on something you have been finding difficult.


Careers Service The majority of universities and further education colleges will offer a careers service. Specialist careers advisers can help you think about your life after higher education by helping you maximise opportunities during your studies, working on your CV, developing interview techniques and alerting you to work experience, internships and graduate job opportunities.

Disability Services If you have a disability, learning difficulties, mental health conditions or other long-term conditions, universities and colleges are there to ensure you have everything you need to have a full student experience. Many universities and colleges have a disability service that offers a range of services from accessible accommodation, car parking and special exam arrangements to advice and guidance on any funded support you might be entitled to from the Disabled Students Allowance. Our advice would be to get in contact with your chosen universities or colleges before you apply to see what support they will be able to offer you. If you disclose this on your application form, universities will get in touch with you before you start your course to discuss what support you might need.

Student with Experience of Care and Young Carers Universities and colleges are really keen to help young people who are care experienced, or those who have caring responsibilities of their own, to realise their full potential by being able to study higher education. If you are a carer or a care leaver there could be lots of support available to you, including financial support, year-round accommodation and help settling in. To find out what support you will be offered just contact the universities or colleges you are interested in applying to – they will be really happy to hear from you.


Student Finance Higher education costs money, there’s no getting around it. However, everyone is entitled to some form of financial support, so money should not be a deciding factor in choosing whether or not to study higher education. Remember those career prospects we spoke about previously!

The finer details of student finance change year to year. What is available this year is likely to change to what is available next year. The most up to date information is available at www.gov.uk/student-finance

Exactly how much it will cost you will vary depending on what and where you study. There are two main costs of higher education – tuition fees and maintenance costs. We’ve broken down the different ways these costs can be managed. Tuition Fees • Universities and colleges can charge up to £9000 per year for full time study. This may increase in the future. • Tuition fees vary across courses and institutions. • You DO NOT pay this up front – it doesn’t matter how much money you have saved or how much money your parents earn, every full-time UK student is entitled to a tuition fee loan to cover the entire tuition fee. • The student loan company pay the university or college directly and you do not start repaying the loan until you start earning a decent amount of money after graduation (see repayments below).


Living/Maintenance costs A maintenance loan is money paid into your bank account by the student loans company to cover your living costs such as food, rent and books – it’s up to you how you spend it and understanding how to budget will be one of the most important life skills you learn. How much money you are allowed to borrow depends on your household income. This will be decided when you apply for student finance. You start paying back what you have borrowed when you start earning.

Bursaries and Scholarships Some universities and colleges offer some bursaries and scholarships, which are financial awards that do not need to be paid back. These may be awarded based on family income, or on academic merit or a combination of the two. Bursaries and scholarships vary between institutions and may only be available for certain courses. Full details of financial support available at each institution can be found at www.ucas.com or on institutions’ individual websites.

Repayment Additional support After you’ve finished studying at university or college your There may be extra financial tuition fee loan and maintenance loan are combined together support available for students into a single amount to be repaid. You make repayments once with a disability, learning difficulties, a month and how much you repay depends on how much mental health conditions, other long-term conditions, students who you earn. It is very manageable and you won’t feel burdened are parents, students with caring by debt when you graduate. responsibilities and students who If you earn below the threshold for repayment, which is have experience of being in care. £21,000 per year (this has been frozen until 2021) then you pay There may also be hardship funds for nothing. If you earn above the threshold then you will pay back students to access who are struggling a percentage of what you earn above the threshold. with money. You should speak to the university or college you wish to apply to directly to get advice about this Key facts kind of support. •Y  ou will have a loan to cover the full cost of your tuition fess – you do not pay them up front. •Y  ou will be entitled to a loan to help you with living costs. • You might qualify for grants, bursaries or scholarships that do not need to be paid back. • You do not start repaying the loan until you are earning a good wage (above £21,000 per year). •A  fter a certain amount of time your student loan is wiped regardless of how much you have left to pay (in 2016 this happens after 30 years, but this may change). • Your loan does not affect your credit rating, ability to apply for a mortgage or any future bank loan applications.


Your Passport to Higher Education To apply to study higher education you use a website called UCAS, on there is all the information you need about every course offered at every university or higher education provider in the country.

There are 90,000 courses at over 400 institutions to choose from! To try and help you understand what a massive amount of choice is available to you, go to search.ucas.com and type in some of your favourite subjects in school, or your hobbies out of school. To start you off, look into some of the examples we have listed below then start searching yourself

• For instance did you know you could study a HND in Arts and Crafts at Barnsley College? • Or Equine Studies at the University of Aberystwyth? • Or a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Game’s at Anglia Ruskin University? • Do you know what’s involved in studying Astrophysics at the University of Manchester? • Or perhaps studying Artificial Intelligence and Robotics at the University of Bedfordshire? • Maybe you are more interested in History and it’s a degree from the University College London in Viking and Old Norse Studies? • Maybe you are an aspiring footballer and a degree in Football Studies at Southampton Solent University is more to your liking?


Fill in the table below with 5 weird and wonderful courses that have caught your attention or you think you may want to the study in the future:

1 2 3 4 5 Higher education may seem to be in the distant future to you right now. Ensuring you are always thinking about higher education as an option for your future means you will be making informed and realistic decisions that are right for you.

In the table on the next page make a list of three jobs or careers you think you might like to do in the future, think about your friends and family’s jobs, jobs you see people doing on the TV, occupations you’ve read about in books or seen in films. Also consider any hobbies you may want to turn into a career. **If you don’t know the exact name of a job, you can say an area of work, e.g. working in a science laboratory.


My chosen careers are: 1



Now type into Google the phrase ‘how to become a __________’ note down what it says below, and put a tick in the box underneath if this job requires you to study Higher Education.

If you ticked the box above please write which course you would need to study below:

Go to www.ucas.co.uk and write down what A-level/BTEC requirements are needed to complete this course. (choose a Uni – look at a few)

Now look if there are any GCSE/BTEC requirements. Write them below:


Interview your Teacher To become a secondary school teacher you have to gain a higher education qualification, this is usually a Bachelors degree from a University in your chosen subject and then a Postgraduate degree in Teaching or Education. This means that when you are in school you are surrounded by people with a range of different experiences of higher education, these are valuable experiences you can learn from. Speak to a few of your teachers in their spare time and ask them the following questions about their university experiences or ask someone else who you know has a HE qualification. You should quickly realise everyone’s experience of higher education is very different.

on? higher educati Did you study study? What did you dy this? choose to stu Why did you ted u always wan yo w o n k u yo Did to study this? e at a n did you tak o ti ca fi li a u q form) t Wha llege or sixth o (c n o ti ca u d Further E level? d the le who studie p o e p r e th ? o What are you doing now s a e rs u co y it same univers u study? Where did yo ? to study here e d ci e d u yo Why did of your favourite part r u yo s a w t a Wh ? on experience higher educati ntly? ything differe n a o d u yo ld Wou


Where can I study higher education in Greater Manchester • Ashton Sixth Form College www.asfc.ac.uk • University of Bolton www.bolton.ac.uk • Bolton College www.boltoncollege.ac.uk • Bury College www.burycollegeunicentre.co.uk • Holy Cross College www.holycross.ac.uk • Hopwood Hall College www.hopwood.ac.uk • The University of Manchester www.manchester.ac.uk • The Manchester College www.themanchestercollege.ac.uk • Manchester Metropolitan University www.mmu.ac.uk • Royal Northern College of Music www.rncm.ac.uk • University of Salford www.salford.ac.uk • Salford City College www.salfordcc.ac.uk • Stockport College www.stockport.ac.uk • Tameside College www.tameside.ac.uk • Trafford College www.trafford.ac.uk • University Campus Oldham www.uco.oldham.ac.uk • Wigan and Leigh College www.wigan-leigh.ac.uk


Higher Education Glossary Bursaries/Scholarships – money given to students which is NOT paid back Campus – the area where a university or college is based FE (Further Education) – this is the type of study you do after GCSES at a sixth form or a college, such as A-levels or a BTEC National Diploma Graduate – the title given to someone when they complete their higher education course Halls of Residence – Accommodation owned by universities where most first year students live HE (Higher Education) – this is the type of study you do after your level 3 qualifications (A-levels/BTECs etc) at a university or further education college such as a Bachelors degree, foundation degree or HND/HNC. Institution – the place where you study, this could be a university or a further education college. Lecture – lesson where teaching staff talk to a large group of students about their subject Loan – money you can borrow from the government to fund your higher education studies that you pay back as you earn Personal Statement – this forms part of your UCAS application and is where you set out why you want to study that course and what relevant skills, experience and ability you have Postgraduate – type of study that you can do after your undergraduate studies such as a Masters or Doctorate (also known as a PhD) Seminar – lesson where students discuss the subject with their teacher in small groups Society – a club where a group of people with a shared interest get together to socialise. Students’ Union – an organisation on a university campus that is devoted to student activities. It is run by students for students and there often places to socialise, eat and get involved with student activities. UCAS – this stands for ‘Universities and Colleges Admissions Service’ and is the organisation which handles the majority of student applications Undergraduate – the general name given to people studying for their first degree Undergraduate Degree – the usual qualification you get from 3 years full time study in higher education


Useful Websites Apprenticeships Information from the government about apprenticeships and traineeships www.apprenticeships.org.uk Careers Box Online library of careers related film, news and information www.careersbox.co.uk I could Explore career options and progression routes www.icould.com Informed Choices Advice from the Russell Group about choosing GCSE and A-level subjects www.russellgroup.org/InformedChoices-latest.pdf National Careers Service Impartial advice about choosing qualifications and progression routes www.nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk/ Not Going to University Options for students who are considering options other than higher education www.notgoingtouni.co.uk Plotr Interactive quizzes designed to help you find your dream career www.plotr.co.uk Prospects Information about a variety of career paths www.prospects.ac.uk


Pure Potential Information about a range of options at post-18 including higher education, apprenticeships, school leaver programme and acess to the professions and employment www.purepotential.org Student Finance Information on The Student Room website Information provided by the Student Loans Company www.thestudentroom.co.uk/studentfinance Student Finance Information on gov.uk website Information provided by the government www.gov.uk/student-finance Success at School Career advice for schools and students aged 13-19. Search jobs, advice and find out about employers, work experience, courses, career choices, apprenticeships www.successatschool.org UCAS Lists all the higher education courses available across the UK www.ucas.com UCAS Progress Progress is UCAS’ information, advice and admissions service for young people making decisions about what and where to study after their GCSEs irrespective of whether or not they’re thinking about higher education www.ucas.com/ucas/after-gcses Unistats The official website for comparing UK higher education course data www.unistats.ac.uk



What have you learnt through reading this guide?

1. List three differences between school and university:

2. What are the benefits of studying higher education? 3. What is the difference between a lecture and seminar? 4. List 3 possible ways you could be assessed whilst studying higher education?

5. Name two of the benefits of living away from home for university?


6. Name two benefits of staying at home for University?

7. Which qualification is a higher level of study?

Higher National Diploma Higher National Certificate

8. Which website can you visit to find out about every higher education course offered in the UK? 9. What is a Students’ Union? 10. What is a society? 11. Name a society you think you might like to join/create? 12. What are Halls of Residence? 13. What is a tuition fee and who pays for it? 41

www.gmhigher.ac.uk Designed by Epigram 0161 906 8911

Profile for GMHigher

GM Higher: University and Me  

GM Higher: University and Me  

Profile for gmhigher

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded