Thursday, 18 June 2015

It's not too late to Apply!

Thinking about starting uni this year? It’s not too late to apply! The last date you can send an application with up to five choices is 30 June - so if you’ve made a last minute decision about going to university, there are a four things to consider before you submit your application.

1. Search for vacancies
Universities can still consider applications as long as they have vacancies. In our search tool you can find courses that are still accepting applications by selecting ‘Courses open to new applicants.’ Before you add a choice however, it’s worth giving the uni a quick call to double check. The last thing you want to do is apply to a uni that may not have any places left to offer!

2. The application form
You need to complete an application so the unis can look at your details. This includes writing a personal statement and getting a reference. If you need help completing the application all the advice you need can be found in one place - our website.

3. Prepare for interviews
Some courses require an interview, even at this stage of the year. But don’t worry, they don’t need to be stressful. Head on over to our blog post full of handy interview tips.



4. Check for open days
If you haven’t already, it’s always a good idea to try and attend an open day to get a better idea of what the uni has to offer and to meet the tutors to get an understanding of the course. All upcoming open days are listed here. Check out our top tips on how to make the most of your visit before you attend one.


And finally… 

Good luck with your application!

If you have any questions about applying, send our advisers a question on Facebook or Twitter and they’ll be more than happy to help.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Think carefully when you reply to your offers

Replying to your offers is a big decision and one you need to think about carefully. You could be spending at least the next three years of your life at whichever university you accept, so you should weigh up all the pros and cons before rushing a decision. Here are five important things to consider before replying…

1. Accept your favourite choice as your firm choice
Think carefully about which choice is your favourite - think back to which one wowed you at an open day and offers the course you’ve dreamed of. Take the same approach with your insurance choice, because if you don’t meet the conditions of your firm, but you do meet the conditions of your insurance, then that’s the uni you’ll be going to. Remember, you can’t choose between your firm and insurance when you get your results.

2. Once you accept a place, you’ve entered a contract with that university
When you accept an offer you’re entering a contract – the university agrees to accept you if you meet their conditions (if there are any) and you agree to attend the course. This is why you need to be happy with the choices you accept.

Sometimes a uni might state in the conditions of their offer that they’ll change it to unconditional as soon as you accept it as your firm choice, and they may also offer incentives such as guaranteed accommodation. Although this may sound reassuring, only make it your firm choice if it’s the course you really want to accept, because you’re making a commitment to the university.

3. If you accept an unconditional offer, even if you don’t have your exam results yet, you won’t have an insurance choice
Some universities will make unconditional offers to applicants even before they have their exam results. Amongst other things, accepting an unconditional offer means you won’t have an insurance choice. Find out what else you should consider if you’re accepting an offer like this in our blog post ‘Accepting an unconditional offer’.

4. Read the conditions of your offer carefully
Before you reply to a conditional offer, make sure you have a clear understanding of what the university requires from you. If uncertain about anything, get in touch with the university and ask them to clarify the conditions.

5. Talk through your decision 
If you’re trying to decide which offers to accept, speak to your tutors and careers advisers. It’s good to speak to family and friends as they can offer alternative perspectives you might not have considered. Check out blogs from current students too, as they share what it’s really like to be part of their student community.    

If you need some help replying to your offers then head on over to our website or ask our friendly advisers on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Apply 2016 - how to apply...

Apply 2016 is now up and running so you can start filling in your application, ready to send it on its way to the universities in September. Even though your application deadline may seem ages away, it’s worth registering as early as possible to save any last minute dramas down the line. If you’re unsure where you want to go or what you want to study, you don’t need to select your universities or courses just yet. However, you can start by filling in the other sections so you’re ahead of the game. So where do you begin?

Getting started
The basics come first; with questions based around your personal details so they should be straight-forward enough to answer. If you come across any questions that aren't clear, click on the red question mark which explains what you need to include. Check out our handy how-to video for a more in depth view in to the application.

Education
This section’s where you need to add any schools or colleges you’ve attended from around the age of 13 onwards, along with the qualifications you’ve taken. It’s worth having your certificates to hand as they’ll be useful if you’re unsure of any of the details, such as your awarding bodies. There’s quite a lot of info you need to add here so we’ve created this video to help you.

Personal statement
This is your opportunity to shout about your strengths, talk about your interests and expand on why you want to go to university and study your chosen course. On a practical note, it’s best to create a draft of your personal statement in a Word document first then copy it over once you’re happy with it. It’s a good idea to ask a family member, teacher or friend to have a look over it before you add it to your application. A second pair of eyes will pick out any errors you might’ve made or remind you of some important information you’ve missed off. Reading it aloud a couple of times is a good way to check that what you’ve written flows correctly.

Reference
You need a reference before your application can be sent. This should be from a current or previous teacher but can come from someone who knows you in a professional capacity, such as an employer. Your referee can’t be a family member or friend.

There are a couple of ways to get a reference – read on to see which is the right way for you.

i) If you’re applying through your school or college: 

When you register, you’ll be asked to enter a buzzword if you select that you’ll be applying through your school or college. This will link your application to your school or college so your teacher can write your reference. They’ll also be able to look over your application and help you along the way, and when the time comes, they’ll send it to us on your behalf.

ii) If you’re applying independently: 

There are a couple of ways to get a reference if you’re applying independently. If your previous school or college is happy to complete a reference then in the ‘Options’ section you can select ‘ask a registered school, college or centre to write a reference only.’ This route needs a buzzword from the school or college so you’d have to discuss this with them.

Alternatively, you can enter your referee’s contact details in the reference section and we’ll send them an email with instructions on what to do.

If you’re opting for this route, make sure you speak to your referee first and ask if they’ll be able to provide you with a reference before you send them a request. Once they've completed it you’ll be sent an email and the reference section will be marked with a red tick.

Good luck with your application!

If you have any questions about applying then have a look on our website. You can also get in touch with our advisers on Facebook or Twitter and they’ll do their best to help.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Student Finance: your questions answered

The deadline for student finance applications isn't far away, so we asked for your questions on Facebook and Twitter to put to the experts. Read on for the answers from Mark-Lee Kelly, Corporate Communications Executive at the Student Loans Company.

When is the deadline to apply for student finance for undergraduate courses?
Apply early to make sure your student finance is ready at the start of term. New students living in England should submit their finance applications by 31 May, and for continuing students, by 30 June.

New students in Wales should have applied for their funding already, but anyone still needing to apply should do so now. Continuing students should apply by 12 June.

When can I apply for finance if I’ll be studying at a conservatoire?
Student finance applications for all full-time, eligible courses are available, and students from England and Wales should apply now!

To apply, register or log in to your online account at:
·          www.gov.uk/studentfinance

How do I apply for student grants?
To apply for a non-repayable maintenance grant, you must indicate on your application that you wish for it to be based on your household income.

If you’re under 25 years old at the start of your course, your parents or partner will be asked to provide their income details from the 13/14 tax year. This will be used to determine whether you’re eligible to receive a grant, and if so, how much you’ll get.

In addition to maintenance grants, special non-repayable support may also be available to you, depending on your circumstances. Extra help includes:

·             Childcare Grant (CCG)
·             Adult Dependents’ Grant (ADG)
·             Parents’ Learning Allowance (PLA)
·             Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA)

More info on these is available at www.youtube.com/SFEngland and www.youtube.com/user/SFWFILM.

Can I apply for student finance before I've had offers back from the unis?
Yes! You don’t need to wait for a confirmed place on a course to apply for student finance.  
Use the details of the course you’re most likely to study. You can update them in your online account later if they change.

When can I apply for funding for part-time courses?
Tuition fee loan applications for part-time and Open University (OU) courses are now available for students in England. To apply, register or log in to your online account at www.gov.uk/studentfinance.

For students from Wales, part-time loan applications will be available during the summer at www.studentfinancewales.co.uk.

What student finance is available for international students?
Students with EU nationality can apply for a tuition fee loan if they have been resident in the EU for the last three years.

To apply, students planning to study in England should download and print an EU15N form from www.gov.uk/student-finance-forms.

EU students studying in Wales should download and print off an EU15N form from www.studentfinancewales.co.uk.

International students from outside the EU can apply for a tuition fee loan if they have been a resident in the UK for the three years prior to the start of their course, with an immigration status that allows them to stay in the UK.

Do I need to apply for finance again for my second year?
Yes, you need to apply for each year’s student finance that you require.
The only exception to this is for those full-time students whose previous year’s application was not based on household income, where the application may have been automatically renewed for you. If this is the case, you should have received an entitlement letter in the post and a declaration to sign and return. You can check your previous correspondence from your online account.

How does repayment work?
Grants and bursaries are non-repayable, so only your loans will need to be repaid.

Repayments will start the April after you leave university or college and the amount that you repay depends on how much you’re earning – currently you have to earn £21,000 or more before tax.

If you’re earning over the repayment threshold, you will have a deduction taken directly from your salary along with your tax and National Insurance. The amount that’s deducted each month/week will show on your payslip and depends on how much you’ve earned in that period.


Thank you Mark for all your help! If you have any further funding questions or concerns, you can ask Student Finance England online.

·      Twitter: @SF_England on Twitter
·      Facebook: www.facebook.com/sfengland

Student Finance Wales are @SF_Wales on Twitter, and they’re on Facebook too at http://www.facebook.com/sfwales.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Take the Spotlight – the winners are…

Our first ever ‘Take the Spotlight’ competition, exclusively for UCAS Conservatoire students, came to a close back in March. We’re really pleased to share the winning entries with you.

To enter, students could either send us a 3,500 character essay or a short video. Amongst other things, they were asked to think about:

who/what inspired them to pursue a music/dance/drama-related course
why they chose to study at a conservatoire over university or HE college
the benefits of studying at a conservatoire

The top prize was £2,500 and a runner up from each category won themselves £1,000.

We received so many truly inspiring entries and… drumroll please, here are the winners…

Winning video entry:
Doug Price from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland raps about life at a conservatoire in his fantastic video, sharing his insight in a really unique way.

Winning essay entry:
Sally Horton from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, writes passionately about how she’s developed both musically and personally at a conservatoire, and what you can learn about yourself as a performer. Read her winning essay here.

The runners up

Alexander Astbury from Birmingham Conservatoire was a runner up with his video, in which he shares more of the performance side of studying at a conservatoire.

Emma Torrens from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland was a runner up in the essay category. In her entry she argues the case for changing the meaning of a conservatoire to reveal the truly inspiring and creative nature of this type of study. You can read her essay here.


Feeling inspired to study at a conservatoire? Check out our website for more information on the courses on offer and how to apply. If you’ve got any questions about how to apply then put them to our advisers on Facebook and Twitter.