Going to university is a big step for any student, but we mustn’t forget it can also be a daunting time for parents and guardians too. We asked parents what information would they like to know in order to help their child with the move to higher education.
Click on the image below to download our Guide for Parents entitled: Higher Education - The Basics.
Further information can be found by clicking on the questions below to find answers to those questions most commonly asked by parents:
If you have any further questions or would like any additional information not found on these webpages you are welcome to contact the team directly. For contact details please click here.
How do I make sure we choose a course and university that is right for my child?
Unfortunately there is no simple answer or sum that will dictate where your child should go to university, but there are a number of elements you can consider to help narrow down the field.
The University and College Admissions Service (UCAS) website allows students to search all available courses in the UK courses will vary at each institution and students can narrow down their options by thinking about:
The academic stuff…
• Whether they have a particular career in mind and any associated qualifications they might need
• If they want to keep their options open by looking at broader courses in subjects which they enjoy or have a keen interest in.
Students can look on university websites and in prospectuses to find out more about how the courses are taught; are they very practical or all classroom based? Are there opportunities for work placement years or to study abroad? They can even ask about how the course is assessed, whether it is mainly exams or course work. Students should be thinking about what would best suit their learning style?
The life stuff....
Students can use location and lifestyle to narrow down their options further. Do they want to live in a big city, or by the coast? Would they like to be able to travel home easily or perhaps consider commuting?
Students are encouraged to visit their favourite institutions at open days where they will be able to soak up the atmosphere of the campus. On these days we recommend students make the most of the opportunity and also visit the town centre, talk to the Students’ Union to find out about extra curricular activities and talk to current students about their experiences.
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When it comes to applying for university what should we be doing and when?
Students can start researching their university choice at any time, but should certainly be thinking about their options from the beginning of year 12. Universities run open days throughout the year and many schools will allow students time off to visit them in order be ready to make decisions towards the end of the year;
• Towards the end of year 12
July normally provides a period of down time following exams that will enable students to start thinking more in-depth about where and what they want to study.
• Summer holidays following year 12
Before the workload of year 13 kicks in, it is recommended that students use some of this summer break to start writing their personal statements which will support their application. It may also be a good idea to seek out work experience to help confirm their subject choice.
• Beginning of Year 13
Students should be completing their UCAS application form with their final 5 options. Schools often set an earlier deadline to that set by UCAS to allow time for references to be completed.
• End of Year 13
Students wanting to apply for loans should start thinking about this before the summer to ensure prompt payment; there is no need to wait untill they have been accepted onto a course.
• UCAS application deadlines (see UCAS for details)
October: Oxford/Cambridge, medicine, dentistry & veterinarian courses
January: Most courses
March: Later deadline for some Art & Design courses
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How do you write a good personal statement?
The personal statement is the part of the UCAS application form that allows students to demonstrate their enthusiasm for their chosen course, to talk about the experiences they have had and how these may help them on the course. The personal statement is a very important part of the application process; universities want to know more about their candidates in order to establish their willingness to learn and ability to succeed at their institution.
Here are some tips for students in order to write a good personal statement:
• Start with a good opening sentence to draw the reader in
• Students should explain why they’re applying for the course and what they hope to gain from it
• Talk about their hobbies/interests and the skills these demonstrate
• Say what their work experience means to their ability to succeed in the course
• Check spelling and grammar
• Repeat information that is elsewhere on the form
• Make generalised or vague statements. Students should use specific examples to highlight their skills and experience.
• Copy from other people
• Be overconfident or undersell themselves
• Use abbreviations or acronyms without explaining them to the reader
• Feel they have to fill all the space, it is quality not quantity
• Be specific about a location or course if they are applying to a few different places or subjects
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What should we expect at an interview for univeristy and how can we prepare?
Not all courses require an interview; the institution, or in some cases UCAS, will contact the student should they need to attend one. There is no need to panic the interview is as much about the student establishing if the course is right for them as for the university to select the right candidates for their courses.
Institutions will write to the student and include any specific information including examples of work that they may want to see. It is the student’s responsibility to confirm their attendance and ensure a prompt arrival at the interview.
During the interview course leaders will want to know why the student wants to study their subject, what relevant experience they have and they will want to hear about their personal achievements.
There is no formal dress code for interviews at the University of Gloucestershire, but students should remember first impressions do count. Students should dress comfortably and wear a smile, being positive and enthusiastic makes a great impression.
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What if my child doesn’t get the grades?
Don’t panic. Your son/daughter will be able to check the UCAS website to see if they have been accepted by their firm or insurance choice. If they have not met the entry conditions for either place they will be entered into clearing. Clearing matches applicants who have not managed to secure a place with university vacancies.
Students can check university websites and newspapers to find out which places are still available and where. Students can ring institutions direct to discuss their results and offers can be made over the phone. Students then generally have up to a week to decide if they would like to accept the place, giving them time to visit the university if they have not already done so.
The University of Gloucestershire’s Guide for Applicants will provide you with more information about the application process.
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What financial support is available and how do we apply?
We hear a lot in the media about the debt that students can get into but what about the support available?
There are two main streams of support for first time students going to university, those that need to be repaid; loans, and those that don’t; bursaries/grants
Students who start university or college on or after 1 September 2012 (academic year 2012/13) will be on a new student finance scheme.
The main changes are:
- universities and colleges can charge tuition fess of up to £9,000
- Tuition Fee Loans will go up to cover the higher fees
- Students don't start repaying their loan until they earn £21,000 (up from £15,000)
- part-time students can apply for a Tuition Fee Loan (replacing grants)
There are two main loans that students can apply for from Student Finance England, and they can choose to take all or just part of the amounts offered to them. Students should apply as soon as possible to help ensure prompt payment and do not need to wait until they have been accepted onto a course to apply.
Student loan for tuition; is used to cover the cost of tuition fees and is paid directly to the institution by the loans company.
Student loan for maintenance; is available to all UK students to help with their living costs whilst at university. It is part guaranteed and part means tested and amounts vary depending on where the student chooses to live, but you can borrow up to around £5000. The money is paid direct to the student in instalments.
Repaying student loans
Students don’t have to start making repayments until they’ve left their course and are earning over £21,000. Once their earnings reach this threshold, they’ll pay back nine per cent of whatever they earn over £21,000. If graduates stop earning £21,000 the repayments stop. Students should note that interest is charged on the loan. Details about repayments and interest charged can be found at DirectGov
Some funding is supplied by the government and can be applied for on the student finance web pages. Other sources of income may come from the university and are applied for directly with them during enrolment.
Maintenance grant: students with a household income of less that £25,000 could be eligible to receive about £3000 from the Government with smaller amounts awarded to households earning up to £42,600.
Bursaries: All universities offer additional funding to eligible students on top of their loans. Each university will have a slightly different package and students should contact the institution to find out what they are eligible.
Our money matters page will give you more information about finance, the cost of being a student and details of the University of Gloucestershire's bursary packages.
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What accommodation options are there?
There are a number of options available to first year students the two most common include;
Halls of Residence; these are blocks of student flats, either on campus or close to it where large numbers of first year students live. This is a very popular option for students who are moving away from home, facilities and prices will vary from place to place but the sooner a student makes their decision about where they want to study the more likely they will be able to stay in Halls.
Shared Housing; The majority of second and third year students live in shared housing and many first year students also select this option too. They will live in a house in town or near the university generally sharing with 4-6 other students. Most universities will produce a list of recommended houses which meet their required standards and have a student friendly contract.
It is worth noting that it is not uncommon for first year students joining a university in their local area to continue living at home. For more information about accommodation options at the University of Gloucestershire click here.
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How will a univeristy ensure the security & safety of my child?
Parents are bound to worry about their children living away from home for the first time but student welfare is always a top priority for universities. Here at the University of Gloucestershire we have onsite security present at all our campuses and wardens and senior students on hand to help in halls of residence.
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What academic and pastoral support is available at univeristy?
Universities want to do all they can to help students with the transition from school/college to university life. At the University of Gloucestershire students are assigned academic review tutors to help them manage their new workload and our Helpzones are on hand to help with all kinds of pastoral support issues. The best advice you can give to your son/daughter if they are struggling with any aspect of University is to talk to staff at the University and ask for help. There a teams of well trained people who will be able to offer support and guidance for all manner of issues.
For more information about the support the University of Gloucestershire offers to its students click here.
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How will my child improve their employability?
The careers market is a competitive place, and a Degree alone is unlikely to get students the job of their dreams. University however is about more that just getting a degree, it is an opportunity for your son/daughter to broaden their horizons and get involved in new experiences that will increase their skills and independence making them more employable in the market place.
At the University of Gloucestershire we encourage work placements, provide opportunities to study aboard and our students Union provides a wealth of opportunities whether it be volunteering in the local community, joining a sports team or working on the student radio station or Newspaper. The experiences that students get involved in outside of the classroom are often what help them to frame their future ambitions in the career market. Our careers centre is also on hand to assist students from day one and until 3 years after they have graduated.
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