Thursday, 28 April 2016

UCAS Teacher Training: Requesting A Reference

Before you can apply for teacher training programmes in England and Wales, you need two references on your application. The process may seem a little daunting and confusing, but we’ve got it covered in this blog post!

Who can be my referee?

If you’re at uni or college, or finished within the last five years, we’d recommend that your first reference is from a tutor or lecturer who can comment on your academic achievements.

Your second referee can be someone who knows you well enough in a professional capacity – either from an academic or professional background.

Both your referees will be asked to comment on your suitability for teaching.

Your referee can’t be a family member or friend.

How do they provide a reference? 
First off, speak to your referees to make sure they’re happy to provide one for you, and give them a heads up on what to expect. If they’re willing to provide you with a reference, you need to send them a request on your application once you’ve completed the following sections:

  • personal details
  • additional information
  • education
  • personal statement 

Once these sections are marked as complete, and you’ve saved your referees details, you can send your reference requests by following this process.

It’s always worth asking your referees to add to their contacts list, so our automated emails don’t get blocked by their firewalls.

If your referees have not provided a reference within 14 days, we’ll issue a reminder email automatically. You can send one yourself within the reference section after the 14 days.

If you have any questions about the reference section, take a look at our website, or get in touch with our advisers on Facebook or Twitter.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Get to know a uni better at an open day!

Open days are a great opportunity for you to check out a university, before you apply or accept a place. Not sure how to find them or how to prepare? We’ve got it covered in four simple steps!

1. Make a shortlist
There are hundreds of unis and colleges in the UK and there might be a fair few that offer the type of course you’re interested in. Put a shortlist together of the unis or colleges you’d like to visit, by searching for courses in our search tool. Once you’ve done that, search for open days to see if you there are any you can attend.

2. Plan ahead
So, you’ve found a uni you want to attend and arranged to head off to an open day? Get an idea of what you want out of the day. Whether it’s seeing specific departments, or meeting particular course tutors, make sure you have a plan in mind to get the most out of it! Also, think of some questions to ask while you’re there. You’ll meet the staff and current students who will know the uni and surrounding areas better than anyone – so this is your chance to get some valuable info from those in the know!

3. Check out their agenda
Each open day will have a set agenda. There will be a selection of tours, talks, meet and greet sessions, and much more. It’s worth checking the uni’s website before you attend, as they may have an in-depth agenda for the day.

4. Can’t attend an open day?
With so many unis and colleges around the UK, we understand you may not be able to attend all the ones you’d like to. If that’s the case, check out our virtual tours for an interactive look at a university from the comfort of your own home.

If you have any other questions about open days, check out the information on our website or get in touch with our advisers on Facebook or Twitter.

Finding the right course

With thousands of courses available in our search tool, it can be quite tough to narrow your choices down to just five. But don’t worry, we’ve got plenty of suggestions on where you can do some research to find the right course for you.

Check out the different types of course
There are different course types to think about. We have lots of advice to help you get an idea of which one would be right for you. Also make sure you check out the entry requirements before you apply, to make sure they’re at an achievable level for you.

Sign up for our newsletters
Each month we send newsletters that cover a number of topics, such as helping you find that right place to study, advice on how to search for courses, and information about attending open days and events. Sign up now!

Attend an open day
Open days are the best way to learn more about a university. They offer you the chance to meet the staff and current students, who’ll be on hand to answer any questions you may have!

Check out our blog post on how you can make the most of your visit to an open day. (link to follow)

Download our app
Our app is full of info about the application process, including advice on student life, tips on finding the right course, details about any upcoming events, and much, much more! Download it now from the App Store or Google play.

If you’ve got any questions about applying, check out all the info on our website or get in touch with our advisers on Facebook or Twitter.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

What's it like at a music conservatoire?

If you’re thinking of studying at a conservatoire there are many things to consider before you apply. advice to get you started but in this blog post we get an inside look at applying to a conservatoire and of conservatoire life from Charlotte Stevenson, who studies at Leeds College of Music.
We’ve got lots of

What has been the most enriching part of studying at a conservatoire?

Being able to access resources that allowed me to open up my own knowledge has been one of the most enriching parts of studying at music college. Most of my hours are individual tuition based, so being able to teach myself has been a huge part of picking up skills such as proof reading and elements of music business – the resources such as the library and practice room were what allowed me to do this.

What made you decide to study at a conservatoire over a university?

Conservatoire education is more performance-based than a university and, although I admire the academic side to music, especially essay writing, I thought that the conservatoire path was better for me as a musician because it meant there was more balance between the types of classes I would have. The performance part of music is the most important element for me, so this was something I wanted to keep to as much as possible.

What are the key differences between a conservatoire and a university? 

As I previously mentioned, there is less performance time with a university. But this can be really useful for composers or future composers or music journalists as it means that there is more time to practice and cater for that sort of skill. This is the main difference, and branches off into other aspects – such as, conservatoires are very close-knit communities because there are not as many students as in a much bigger university; so in some ways it can feel more like a very big family, whereas with a university there is the comfort of an environment much closer in similarity to sixth form because of the range of societies and topics studied there.

Talk us through the audition day – a little of the emotion and a little of the practicalities

I auditioned for four music schools in total, one of them being a university. The day I auditioned at Leeds College of Music was my first audition of all. I remember that because I was nervous, my throat was dry and my heart was racing – I thought there was no way I was going to get in because everyone else got their short study score earlier than I did. But it actually went really well because once I was in the audition room, the habits took over. Practicing a lot meant that the muscle memory set in and the Italian libretto was just there already without me needing to think. When they interviewed me after the audition, they looked at my personal statement and noticed I mentioned Shostakovich symphony 5 which they questioned me on and asked me to sing the beginning of the third movement, so I did. They laughed and, when I asked why, told me it was because they hadn't expected me to actually do that. I still maintain in hind sight that this was the biggest moment of my first impression in relation to the scholarship because I had proof that I was a researched student.

Talk us through the thoughts and emotions of being accepted

Being accepted, especially with the excellence scholarship, was surprisingly not a relief at all at first. I was thrilled – but even more anxious than prior because now that I was accepted I had to get the grades. But mainly being accepted gave me the motivation to carry on working hard and making plans for the future because focusing on that factor too much made it seem surreal to me. It was the best and worst moment of my life all at once – that was how it felt.

If you could sum your whole conservatoire experience up in one sentence, what would it be?

Something I would never have expected that made me realise music is about far more than what you can learn in a class room, it is what you learn from your experiences and how you interpret that as an individual.

What would you say to someone nervously considering applying?

Make sure you are thorough in finding out about what you want: attending open days, looking at university websites, keeping a diary about the whole experience. Knowing yourself inside out is difficult at this age, because the future still seems a little intimidating and far away, but by knowing what it is you want you will be able to prepare yourself the best you can for the transition. And if you are nervous, just remember that you don't only get one chance – if things go great, then this is wonderful. But if things don't go as great as you planned, then with time and work, they will. The best thing you can do is to break the ice and apply because once you have the options before you, it will be easier to weigh up which is the best course of action for you.

Want to know more about studying at a conservatoire? Check out all the information on our website or ask us a question on Facebook or Twitter.

Advice for parents

Applying to university can cause a fair amount of anxiety, but not just for your son or daughter – we know that as parents you want to do whatever you can to help them through this important stage of their lives. For some, the process can seem quite unfamiliar – but rest assured we’ve created useful resources especially for you to help you give the best advice and support.

Monthly newsletters

We send out monthly newsletters with timely advice so you can support your son or daughter with their application. They cover a wide range of topics such as completing the application form, offering support at open days, help on finance and much more – sign up now!

Video guides

We have a selection of videos to help you get to grips with various stages of the application process, but we also have a selection of videos just for parents which offer support on a multiple topics.
The UCAS website

There’s a whole section of our website dedicated to helping parents. Covering everything from the application process to open days.

Parent guide

Download our PDF guide (it’s also available in Welsh) to help you navigate through the UCAS process. It’ll help you familarise yourself with the glossary of terms we use and offer you support from starting the application process all the way through to when your son or daughter starts uni.

Financial advice

One of the biggest concerns you may have will be the financial support available. We have lots of advice to answer your questions. Whether it’s the financial support on offer, how to afford to send your child to uni, or how to help them manage their money while at uni, we've got it covered!

Social media channels

Finally, we regularly post useful advice and updates on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages, so get following!

If you have any further questions or concerns about your son or daughter’s application you can ask our social media team on these channels, and they’ll get back to you as soon as they can.

How to prepare for your teacher training interview

If you’re applying for teacher training programmes, you’ll have to attend an interview before you’re offered a place. Interviews can be daunting for even the most relaxed and experienced individual but with a bit of preparation you can do well.

Training providers are looking for a range of qualities when you attend an interview. They’ll want to see that you’re passionate and enthusiastic about teaching, while also being confident and professional while working with children.

We have lots of advice to help you prepare for that all important interview, including what qualities they’re looking for, the type of questions they could ask and much more!

Training providers may also have specific information about their interview process on their website, so it doesn’t hurt to look before you attend your interview.

If you have any questions about applying then have a look on our website or get in touch with our advisers on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Grants and funding for disabled students

Higher education opens up many opportunities, but also brings with it added financial worries; this
can especially be the case if you have a disability. We explain the help available to relieve the strain of being a student.

While all students are entitled to a tuition fee loan, a means tested maintenance loan to cover living costs, and sometimes a maintenance grant, additional grants are available for disabled students.
Here we review the extra funding available to UK students with a disability.

Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs)
Whichever part of the UK you are from, and whether you’re studying in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, if you have a disability that will impact your higher education studies, you can apply for Disabled Students' Allowances.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a physical problem, a learning difficulty, mental health problems, or a long-term medical condition, or if you’ll be in undergraduate or postgraduate study. You can apply for these allowances to help with:

  • small purchases such as extra photocopying, braille paper or a dictaphone
  • larger specialist equipment you may needfor your studies as a result of your disability – for example, voice recognition software, a computer, printer and scanner. Although equipment that is needed by all students on a course would not be covered
  • non-medical personal help such as the services of a reader, note-taker, sign language interpreter, proof-reader or mentor. This doesn't cover extra tuition specific to the subject area, personal care or any other help unrelated to your studies
  • the additional costs of travel which a disability brings, such as being unable to use public transport

The level of help you receive from Disabled Students' Allowances is determined by your disability and whether your course is full-time or part-time. Your household income does not affect the payment.

Allowances for both the 2015/2016 and 2016/2017 academic years

Full-time students:

  • specialist equipment allowance: up to £5,212 for the whole course
  • non-medical helper allowance: up to £20,725 a year
  • general allowance: up to £1,741 a year

Part-time students:

  • specialist equipment allowance: up to £5,212 for the whole course
  • non-medical helper allowance: up to £15,453 a year
  • general allowance: up to £1,305 a year

You do not need to repay any DSAs you receive and can claim it in addition to other forms of student finance. However, you can't get if it you receive an NHS Disabled Students' Allowance or similar funding from the university you attend.

Payment is either made into your account or straight to the organisation providing the products or services you need. You don’t have to repay any of the costs incurred.

You need to complete a form available from Student Finance England, Wales or Northern Ireland or from the Student Awards Agency for Scotland. If you qualify you will have to undergo a needs assessment to determine the level of funding you’ll receive.

NHS Disabled Students' Allowance

If you are a disabled student taking a course funded by NHS England or Wales, the Scottish Government Health Directorate, or you are receiving a bursary from the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety in Northern Ireland, you can get financial assistance if your disability means you incur additional costs to attend the training.

It covers similar costs to the Disabled Students' Allowances, and a recent assessment of your needs is required as proof of eligibility.

If you are a postgraduate social work students getting a bursary from NHS England or the Care Council for Wales, if you have a disability an additional payment is included within your bursary.

Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payment

Besides financial assistance with your studies, you may be able to claim additional funding towards day-to-day living while you’re a student.

If you need help to care for yourself or to get around, you may already be receiving Disability Living Allowance, which is being phased out and replaced with a similar benefit known as a Personal Independence Payment (PIP). If you are applying for assistance for the first time, you will be considered for the latter.

Being in higher education will not adversely affect your eligibility to claim PIP, as the payment is based on need rather than your family or partner's income. It is also unaffected by any other student funding you may receive.

The level of payment you receive will be dependent on the extent to which your disability impacts the care you require and your ability to mobilise.

A claim form is available from the Department of Work and Pensions. After completing and returning this, you will need to complete an assessment.

Employment and Support Allowance

If you are unable to work as a result of your disability while a student, you may be able to claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if you are studying part-time.

Full-time students usually cannot claim this unless you satisfy one of the following criteria:

  • you have already made adequate national insurance contributions to obtain contributory ESA
  • you meet criteria for contributory ESA in youth and are aged over 19
  • you receive Disability Living Allowance at any rate of payment

In either case you will be required to complete an assessment to demonstrate your disability would prevent you from working.

Housing benefit

Whether on a part-time or full- time course, you can claim housing benefit if you are a student with a disability. You will qualify for this in the following instances:

  • you receive Disability Students' Allowances for deafness.
  • you are classed as having a disability premium (you receive Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment) or a severe disability premium (on top of receiving the care component of either DLA or PIP, you live alone and nobody receives a carer’s allowance for providing care to you).

Help towards travel costs

If your mobility is affected, or you are unable to travel alone, this will often mean the journey to and from university on a daily basis leads to extra costs.

Your disability may mean you are entitled to a concessionary bus pass which entitles you to free bus travel, or a Disabled Persons Railcard that allows you and a companion to receive a third off most rail fares.

Alternatively, you may be able to take advantage of the Motability scheme that enables those with a disability to lease a car. Once you have a car you will also be able to apply for vehicle tax exemption and a blue badge to allow you to park in more accessible areas.

Researching the financial assistance available to you as a disabled student and accessing all the funding to which you are entitled will allow you to be in a more comfortable financial situation while you pursue your studies.


Who inspires you?

If you have a passion for performing arts then you might want to consider studying at a conservatoire. Each conservatoire has its own particular strengths and subject specialisms. While they all offer music courses, only two offer drama courses.

Conservatoire students can be influenced by many different factors to pursue their ambitions. One of our bloggers, Charlotte Stevenson, shares what influenced her to follow her passion.

I am currently a first year classical vocal student at Leeds College of Music. It has been quite the year so far: exams and all.  So it is useful to look back every now and again to remember what it is that inspired me to apply and led to me being here.

There was no single epiphany for me leading me to decide that music was what I wanted to do for the rest of my further studies. It was always something which I enjoyed doing from being a child, but as my family was not especially musical my interest was limited to the music from around the house.

The radio was always on – Abba, Pink Floyd, Mozart, and co. There were many teachers, choirs, and opportunities which were crucial to assisting me to this point, but they were not the deciding factor that made me want to achieve this the most.

One of the biggest inspirations for me to reach beyond this was my Grandad. As although not directly musical, he supported me a huge amount in my interests and made sure that I did not give up on learning all of the musical content I needed to. Especially when it came to the less interesting theory-based content. He was extremely selfless in listening to my academic weaknesses and helping me to plan out how I was going to move forward to improve them.

Having taught himself to play the guitar and the cornet whilst in the army, it was he who taught me that we can be our own teacher and determine our own success, no matter what it is we do. Having realised this, I found it much easier to look at things from a perspective of how I could teach and improve myself as a performer. This was the only way that I managed to get through all of my exams and achieve the level of standard in them that I wanted to aim towards.

Want to know more about studying at a conservatoire? Check out all the info on our website or ask us a question on Facebook or Twitter.

Should I pay off my student loan early?

While your student loan is likely to be one of the cheapest loans you will ever get, it can also be a burden you may want to clear as soon as possible. We weigh up if it is worth paying off your student loan early.

Why pay off your student loan early?

Student loans of a sizeable amount will take years to pay off – especially when you factor in interest accruing on the amount you owe.
Repaying it early will speed up the process so that you have one less debt to worry about. It will also mean you end up paying less interest in the long-run.
This might be especially attractive if you have had the debt for a while or just want to rid yourself of as much debt as possible.
As student loans do not come with penalties for early repayment, there is no harm in clearing the debt early.
You can find out how much you owe on the Student Loans Company website.

How much do you repay?

Plan 1 – if you started uni before 1st September 2012

  • You will start repaying your student loan from the April after you finish your course.
  • If you earn more than £17,335, 9% of what you earn above this will go towards paying off your student loan.
  • This threshold will rise to £17,495 in April 2016.
  • Your repayments will be automatically deducted from your pay if you work for an employer.

Plan 2 – if you started uni after 1st September 2012

  • You start paying the loan back the April four years after the start of your course, or the April after you finish or leave your course.
  • You will begin to pay your loan when/if your salary is £21,000 a year, or £1,750 a month, or £404 a week.
  • Your repayments will be automatically deducted from your pay if you work for an employer.
  • If you earn more than £21,000, 9% of what you earn above this will go towards paying off your student loan.

What if you have other debts?

Student loan interest rates for plan 1 currently stand at 0.9% for those who started university after 1998 (2.5% for pre-1998 starters) so any other interest-earning debts you have are likely to cost more than your student loan.

For those on plan 2, if you are coming into repayment from April 2016 the rate is variable depending on income, with 0.9% RPI for incomes of £21,000 and under, rising up to RPI+3% (3.9%) where income is £41,000 or more.

If you have outstanding debts in addition to your student loan, it could be worth prioritising these instead of overpaying on your student loan. These debts could include:

  • an outstanding credit card balance
  • an overdraft that is not interest-free
  • a loan with a higher interest rate than your student loan

As student loan repayments come out of your salary and you only have to make them if you earn above the £17,335 threshold for plan 1, and the £21,000 threshold for plan 2, there is no chance of falling behind on them and getting into the financial trouble you could with other loan types.

What if you have no other debts?

If your student loan is your only outstanding debt and you have some cash to spare, making overpayments on your loan to clear it more quickly may be the sensible thing to do.

However, a student loan is probably the cheapest long-term debt you will ever have. Before you plough all of your disposable income into clearing your loan, you could consider putting the money instead into a high interest savings account.

Funds in a savings account could earn more interest than your loan is costing you, at a time when student loan interest rates are so low.

You could use what you save up to:

  • pay off your student loan in one go
  • use as a deposit for buying a house
  • buy a new car without needing a costly loan

Compare savings accounts

How do you make overpayments?

If you have no other ongoing debts, have cash to spare, and would rather say goodbye to your student loan debt than put the money in savings, you can make overpayments on your loan in the following ways:

  1. Pay an additional amount online to the Student Loans Company with a credit or debit card. A minimum of £5 applies, and you will be charged 1.5% extra if you pay by credit card.
  2. Send a cheque or postal order to the Student Loans Company, making sure to write your Student Support Number on the back.
  3. Set up a direct debit or standing order by contacting a Student Loans Company adviser.

No refunds of your overpayments can be made if you change your mind, so make sure you are able to manage without the funds you send.

Will your debt ever be wiped?

All student loan debts will be wiped at some point later in your life if you do not break their terms and conditions:

  • If you took out the loan before the 2005/06 academic year, your loan will be wiped when you reach 65.
  • If you took out your loan in or after the academic year 2006/07 it will be cancelled 25 years after you became eligible to pay it.
  • If you took out your loan after the 1st September 2012 debt will usually be written off 30 years after you became eligible to pay it back.
  • In Scotland, your loan will be cancelled when you reach 65 if it was taken out in 2006/2007 or before. If it was taken out in 2007/08 or after, it will be 35 years after you started to repay it.
  • All student debts will be unequivocally wiped upon death, or if you become permanently unfit to work.


Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Top 10 student money tips

Getting a degree is expensive, but making every penny count lets you squeeze every drop of fun from your uni days without getting saddled with debt. Here are the top 10 essential money tips for students.

1. Work out a budget
It is hard to set a precise weekly budget before you get to university and see what things really cost. However, trying to work out an outline budget before you go is still a good idea – even a rough idea of how much money you will have available each week will help you to avoid blowing your budget early.

The simplest way to do this is to make one list of all your monthly income (e.g. from loans, part-time work, the Bank of Mum and Dad) and another listing all the expenses you can think of.

Remember, the more accurate you can be when predicting expenses, the clearer the picture of your money situation will be – include everything from rent, bills and food, to things like books, library fees, transport costs and laundry. Once you have both lists done, subtracting your total weekly or monthly expenses from your total income over the same period will give you an idea of how much is left over for entertainment.

2. Get the right bank account
Your choice of bank account, and particularly your overdraft facility, is very important. Before you choose, work out what features are important to you – paying particular attention to monthly fees, overdraft charges and such. Over the long term, they will be much more important than the gifts and incentives that many student accounts offer. The main things to look for in a student account are:

  • overdraft facility and fees: Find out how much you can borrow and how much will it cost each month. Some charge a monthly fee for using an overdraft, whilst others will charge interest on the debt and some will even offer you an overdraft that is interest free while you are a student (although you will be charged interest later on when you graduate). Which works for you depends on how much you are likely to go overdrawn each month.
  • interest paid on balances: Every penny counts, so look for an account that pays interest on your money when you are in credit.
  • monthly fees: Some accounts charge a monthly 'administration fee'. Generally these are best avoided as they will add to your monthly outgoings. The only exception is if they are offering you a service or benefit that you would pay significantly more for otherwise.
  • other charges: Check terms and conditions before you sign up, to identify any other potential costs – for instance find out how you will be charged if you go over your overdraft limit (although this is something that you should try and avoid if at all possible).
  • access to your money: It is a good idea to make sure you choose a bank with either a branch or a cashpoint near where you will be living. This way you will be able to withdraw funds without extra charges and have someone to speak to face-to-face if you need some money advice.

3. If you must get a credit card, get the right one
If at all possible, you should try to avoid relying on credit cards, since even a small debt can add up, with minimum repayments rising as interest is added over time. However, a credit card can provide a useful safety net if you choose wisely, only use it in dire emergencies and then pay it off in full as soon as possible. Even so, it is very important to shop around for the best deal, looking particularly at things like:

  • interest rates: When it comes to credit cards it is a case of the lower the interest rate the better. Remember that any interest charged on your outstanding balance will mount up quickly, getting you further in debt over time. Do make sure that you do not get caught out by introductory offers that hike the cost of your borrowing considerably after a number of months.
  • added extras: Do not be seduced by free gifts and incentives, focus on the overall cost of the card just in case you need to use it.
  • credit limits: Most student credit cards offer limits of up to £500, this can help you to taper your spending somewhat although it is still a significant amount to owe.

Finally, if you do spend on a credit card it is essential that you make the minimum repayment on time each month at the very least, otherwise you will be setting yourself up for financial disaster after you graduate.

4. Spend your money wisely
With these basics in place, you are in a good position to manage your student finances effectively. But it is no good planning your finances if you then spend money hand over fist once you get to university. Try to stick to the budgets you set out by shopping around for bargains and saving money on 'essentials' wherever you can. Consider:

  • buying second hand books: You can often find course texts for sale at knock down prices at the university union or by searching student notice boards.
  • applying for and use a 'Student Railcard': The 16-25 Railcard costs £30 and offers one third off rail travel for one year. You can apply by visiting
  • learning to cook: You will save a lot of money if you can cook yourself a few basic meals, rather than relying on ready meals and takeaways.
  • clubbing together to save money on food: If you live in shared accommodation, club together with your housemates when buying food. Go for value brands and look for 'bulk bargains' like three for two and BOGOFs (Buy one, get one free).

Manage your bills: By applying a little common sense you can save money on your monthly bills:
Switch off lights when they are not needed.

  • Do not leave TVs on standby, and unplug mobile chargers when they are not in use.
  • Do not use your mobile for overseas calls
  • Do not pay Council Tax if you are exempt, which you will be if you live in university accommodation, or if everyone in your private accommodation is a student.
  • Club together to pay for the TV licence, you only need one to cover everyone living in your accommodation, not one each.

5. Shop around for broadband deals
If you plan to live in private accommodation, the chances are you will have to get broadband set up. If so, shop around to get the best deal available in your area. When comparing deals, look at:

  • Download speed: The faster the better, but not at any cost
  • Download limits: Most deals will set a limit on how much data you can download each month. Check that this is going to be enough and find out what happens if you exceed this limit or you could end up paying more than you expected.
  • Cost: You will need to compare monthly and setup costs so you know exactly how much you will be paying to get online.

6. Be smart about part-time jobs
Many students rely on part-time jobs to cover monthly bills and to pay for nights out and socialising. If you get a job, remember:

  • don't overdo it: Try not to work more than 15 hours per week so you can keep up with your studies.
  • get paid what you are owed: The minimum wage for 18-20 year olds is £5.30 per hour. If you are over 21 it is £6.70.

7. Look after your finances
It is vital that you keep a regular eye on your finances – do not just assume that everything is OK.

  • Review your bank account regularly: This way you will always know how much money you have. You will be better able to avoid unwanted bank charges (e.g. unauthorised overdraft fees) and will be less likely to run out of cash altogether.
  • Plan for regular bills: Ideally, you should set up direct debits for everything from rent to utility bills. That way you will know exactly how much you spend on each and when the money will leave your account. It can be useful to have a separate 'bills' account so you never accidently spend cash that was needed for essentials.
  • Sign up for online banking: This will enable you to check your balance, and which direct debits have already been paid, whenever you want.
  • Don’t let problems mount up: If it looks like you are running out of money, or cannot cover your bills, get help straight away. Talk to your bank and to a student adviser (through the National Union of Students) to see what help might be available

8. Make more from your student loan
If you are taking out a student 'maintenance' loan to cover living costs, you will be paid a lump sum at the beginning of each term. When you receive each payment, put it in an instant access savings account (keeping enough back to cover your immediate needs). That way, your loan will earn interest and you will be less tempted to blow it all straight away (and won't be able to spend it 'by mistake'). If you plan to do this, shop around for a savings account.

  • If you have not used your annual ISA allowance, use it as you will not pay tax on your interest.
  • Opt for a savings account that pays the highest rate of interest.
  • Make sure you will be able to access your money, without penalty, when you need it. Read the terms and conditions before you commit yourself.

9. Protect your identity
Online banking fraud is on the increase, so take steps to protect yourself. Take the time to find out what the threats are and how to avoid getting caught out.

Remember that bank and identity fraud does not just happen online. Particularly if you live in shared accommodation, be careful that you do not leave items such a bank statements and bills lying around.

  • Do not throw bank statements in the bin. Either keep them somewhere safe, have them sent to your home address or shred them before you throw them away.
  • Do not give out your PIN number to anyone.
  • Never write down your PIN.
  • Ask your bank to send replacement cards to your home address, not your student address.

10. Protect your possessions
Finally, make sure your possessions are covered by adequate home contents insurance. This is a must as both halls of residence and student housing tends to be incredibly popular with thieves.

  • You do not need buildings insurance (this is the responsibility of your university or private landlord).
  • Make sure your cover is sufficient to protect all your possessions.
  • Shop around and get quotes from a number of providers so that you don't pay more than you have to for the cover you need.
  • Pay attention to the terms and conditions, to make sure you are protected.
  • Make sure any valuable items, like computers and bikes, are properly covered. Some policies have a 'single item' limit (which means that any single item is only covered up to a maximum of say £2,500) and insist that any such items are listed on the policy.
  • Be honest when you apply. If you do not tell the whole truth your insurer may refuse to pay out if the worst happens.
  • Opt for a policy excess you could afford if you have to claim. The excess is a set amount of any claim you have to pay yourself before the insurer will contribute (the first £50 for instance). Having a larger excess will bring down your premiums, but will cost you more if you need to make a claim.