Friday, 27 May 2016

Thinking of starting uni this year?

Thinking about starting university this year? You can still apply for courses until 18:00 (UK time) on 30 June.

Where can I find vacancies?
You can find all course vacancies in our search tool.

Once you’ve found some you’re interested in, it’s still worth giving the uni a quick call to make sure they have vacancies and will consider your application.

How do I apply?
So you’ve found some courses you want to apply to and you’ve made sure they’ve got vacancies – the next step is completing your application!

There’s lots of advice to get you started on our website. You may need a little extra help with some parts of the application, such as the education section and your personal statement. If so, check out these great videos for lots of great advice.

video video

Once you’ve completed your entire application, including a reference, you’ll be able to pay for and send us your application. The fee is £12 for one choice or £23 for more than one choice.

What happens if I apply after 30 June?
Any application sent to us after 30 June will be entered in to Clearing.

Good luck with your application! 

If you have any questions about applying, check out all the advice on ucas.com or ask our advisers on Facebook or Twitter.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Teacher Training: Three things to consider before you apply

It’s not too late to apply for teacher training programs for 2016 entry. If you’ve already made an application, and you don’t hold any offers, you may be able to apply elsewhere using Apply 2. If you haven’t applied, you can submit an application up until 15 September, but there are a few things to consider before you apply through either of these routes.

Choosing the right training programme

There are a few different training programmes available. Check out the different routes into teaching and see which one is the right fit for you. Make sure that you meet the entry requirements for the route you wish to apply to. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to search for some training providers!

Vacancies

Search for all programmes that have vacancies in our search tool. Even if the programme you’re interested has vacancies listed, it’s always worth ringing the training provider just to make sure that they can consider your application.

Interviews

You have to attend an interview before you can be offered a place on a teacher training programme. You’ll be interviewed within 40 days of sending in your application so make sure you’re prepared! We’ve got lots of top tips to help you prepare for interviews, with some advice on what skills the training providers are looking for. Also, check out this great video on how to prepare for a teacher training interview.
video

Got any questions about applying for teacher training programmes? Check out all the advice on ucas.com or send us your questions on Facebook or Twitter.

It's not too late to use UCAS Extra

Have you used all five choices but not holding any offers? You may be able to apply for more using Extra! If you’re not sure how to use it then we’ve got it covered in this short blog post.

When can I use Extra?
If you’ve used all five choices and don’t hold any offers, you can use Extra up until 4 July. If you’re not sure whether you’re eligible or not, sign in to Track to check your status. If you have an option to Add Extra Choice then you’re in Extra.



Where can I check for vacancies?

All course vacancies will be listed in our search tool. When you search for a course you’ll have a selection of filters down the left hand side. Make sure you click on the option Show courses in Extra to narrow down your search.

Once you’ve found a course you’re interested in, it’s still worth giving that uni or college a quick call to make sure they have vacancies and will consider your application.

Course vacancies are updated all the time by the unis, so it’s worth keeping an eye on our search tool.
When will the uni make a decision?

When you apply through Extra the uni or college has until 14 July to make a decision. Once they’ve made a decision you’ll receive an email to check Track.

If you’re offered a place, you must reply by 22 July otherwise your offer will be declined automatically.

Have any further questions about Extra? Have a look at our website or get in touch with our advisers on Facebook or Twitter.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Apply 2017 – how to apply...

UCAS Undergraduate Apply 2017 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. 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
Before you can start your application you need to register. When you register you’ll need to answer some basic questions about yourself.  We’ll give you a username and you’ll also be asked to create a password.

Personal details
Once you sign in, you’ll see a page like this:


This section requires you to fill in some personal details about yourself. If you’re unsure what to put in, click on the red question mark at the end of the question for some help.

Education
This section’s where you need to add any schools or colleges you’ve attended, from 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
The personal statement section is your chance to show why you want to attend uni and study that course – in 4,000 characters, or 47 lines. We’ve got plenty of tools to help you perfect your personal statement. Try out our personal statement tool, personal statement timeline, and check out the advice from admissions staff from uni and colleges about what to include.


Reference
You need a reference before your application can be sent. This should be from a current or previous teacher, but can be 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, if you select that you’re applying through your school or college, you’ll be asked to enter a buzzword. 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, in the ‘Options’ section 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 it with them.

Alternatively, you can enter your referee’s contact details in the reference section. We’ll then send them an email with instructions on what to do. If you want to do this, make sure you ask your referee if they’ll be able to provide you with a reference before you send them a request. Once they’ve completed it, we’ll email you, 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.

Student finance for postgraduate loans

If you’re starting a postgraduate master’s course in 2016/17, a new postgraduate loan will soon be available to help you financially.

Can I apply for a postgraduate loan?

You can apply for a postgraduate loan if:
  • you’re studying a taught or research master’s course
  • you’re studying at a university or college, or by distance learning
  • you’re under the age of 60 on the first day of your course
Please note, you can’t get a postgraduate loan for postgraduate level courses, such as PgCert (Postgraduate Certificate), PgDip (Postgraduate Diploma), or where the postgraduate course is funded by undergraduate student finance, such as:
  • Initial Teacher Training (ITT)/ Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)
  • an integrated master’s
Can I study part-time?

Yes – if you’re studying part-time, you can study for two years (for the equivalent one year full-time course) or up to four years (for the equivalent two year full-time course). If you’re studying part-time, you can only get payments for the first two years of your course, although three years may be available if a full-time equivalent is not available.

I’m an EU national, am I eligible?

Yes – if you’re an EU national, but don’t normally live in England, you may be able to get a postgraduate loan for a master’s course that you’re studying in England.

What can I apply for?

You can apply for a loan of up to £10,000 as a contribution towards your course and/or living costs.
If your course is longer than one year, you can get up to £5,000 in your first year and the rest in your second year. The loan will be paid into your UK bank account in three instalments during the academic year.

If you have a disability, including a mental health condition or specific learning difficulty, such as dyslexia or dyspraxia, you might be eligible for Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA). These don’t have to be paid back.

I have received student finance for a previous qualification. Am I still eligible?

Yes – having a loan from a previous qualification (such as an undergraduate course) won’t affect your eligibility for a postgraduate loan. However, you can only get a postgraduate loan if you don’t already have a master’s qualification or a higher level qualification like a PhD.

If you take a postgraduate loan for one course but don’t complete the course, you won’t be able to get a second postgraduate loan. If you have to repeat your course for compelling personal reasons, such as illness, you may be able to apply for additional funding to allow you to repeat the course.

How do I apply?

You can apply from late June 2016 at www.gov.uk/postgraduateloan.
You don’t need to have a confirmed place on a course to apply, as you can use the details of
your preferred course and update them later if they change. 

Before you start your application, you should have the following to hand:
  • valid UK passport details (if you have one)
  • preferred university and course details

You’ll also need your UK bank account details (eight digit account number and six digit sort code), UK National Insurance number, and your address history for the previous three years.

Once you start your application, you can save it and go back to it later at any time.

How do I get paid?
You have to register at university and start your course before we can make the first payment.
The postgraduate loan will be paid directly into your UK bank account. It can take two or three days for the payment to reach your account, depending on your bank, and you’ll receive three instalments throughout the academic year.

Do I have to repay the loan?

Yes – repayments are based on your income, not what you borrowed.

Interest is charged at the Retail Price Index (RPI) plus 3% from the day we make the first payment to you, until your postgraduate loan is repaid in full or written off.

You can make a voluntary repayment towards your postgraduate loan at any time.

For more information on postgraduate loans, visit www.gov.uk/postgraduateloan.

Thank you Mark for all your help! If you have any funding questions or concerns, you can ask Student Finance England on Twitter and Facebook.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Seven ways to kick-start your studies

In a few months’ time, a million young people in the UK will be immersing themselves for the first time in the hurly-burly of undergraduate life on a university campus. At the same time, online and distance learning students will start studying in the peace and quiet of their own home. Two very different experiences, but they both have something important in common. As well as getting to grips with their chosen subject, they have to learn how to take responsibility for how and when they study.

The National Extension College (NEC) is working in partnership with UCAS on a series of study skills guides to help students successfully make the transition from school or college to higher education. The first four guides, covering how to present an argument, time management, proofing and editing, and academic essay writing, have recently gone live on the UCAS website.

NEC and UCAS believe that everyone needs to invest time in learning the skills needed for independent study if they are to become confident students and get the most out of their course. Here are our top seven ways to develop the habits of a successful independent learner.

1. Get to know how you study best

Do you prefer detailed instructions, or trying things out for yourself? Are you someone who needs solitude while you are studying, or do you like to work with other people around? How well do you cope with your surroundings being untidy? Understanding the best way for you to study will help you plan when and where to study to make the most of your time.

2. Understand what motivation is all about

Daniel Goleman, author of a number of best-selling books on emotional intelligence, identifies four elements that make up motivation:

  1. the personal drive to achieve
  2. being committed to personal or organisational goals
  3. initiative or ‘readiness to act on opportunities’
  4. optimism to keep going in the face of setbacks

Understanding how self-motivation works will get you started and keep you going when things get tough.

3. Keep tabs on your time

How wide a gap is there between how you think you spend your time and how you actually spend it? To find out, try logging your time in half hour blocks for a week. Taking a hard look at how you spend your time will make it easier to decide what you can cut out to make more time for studying.

4. Identify key verbs and key ideas

Cut to the chase when you have an essay to write by identifying the key verbs and key ideas in the title before you do anything else. Do it by choosing two highlighting pens in different colours – use one for the verbs and one for the key ideas. Taken together, they will help you focus your approach to planning, reading, and note-taking.

5. Brainstorm your ideas

Brainstorming ideas by making notes on your tablet, phone, or a scrap of paper makes it easy to sort out strong ideas from weak ones and put them in a logical order. You can brainstorm whenever you have a spare five minutes.

6. Be a disciplined note-taker

When you’re trying to make sense of new ideas, facts, and concepts, it’s discouraging to be faced with piles of disorganised notes. Establish good note-taking habits as soon as you start your course and you’ll feel the benefit all the way through. Good habits include: only taking notes on material you might use, writing down points in your own words, and jotting down questions you can follow up later.

7. Draft and redraft

Stop worrying about a perfect final version of your work by writing a first draft, then a second, a third, and even subsequent drafts. Forget about spelling, grammar, punctuation, and paragraphing for now. Instead, concentrate on presenting your material clearly. Then, when you’re producing the final draft, spend time on the details.

Want to know more?

To find out how NEC can help you to fit more learning into your life, browse their wide range of flexible distance learning courses – from GCSEs and A levels, to professional qualifications in management and childcare. You can also get in touch and speak directly to their friendly team. They can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Friday, 13 May 2016

Student Finance FAQs

The deadline for student finance applications for applicants from England 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?
New students living in England should submit their finance applications by 27 May, and for continuing students, by 24 June.

New students in Wales should have applied for their funding by 13 May, and continuing students should apply by 10 June.

Can I apply for student finance before I've had offers back from universities?
Yes! You don’t need to wait for a confirmed place on a course to apply for student finance.  
Use the details of your preferred course as you can update it in your online account later if the details change.

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 EU16N form from www.gov.uk/student-finance-forms.
 
EU students planning to study in Wales should download and print an EU16N 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 five years prior to the start of their course if studying in England, or three years if studying in Wales, and have 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 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 in 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 you’ll 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.

Find out more at www.studentloanrepayment.co.uk.


Thank you Mark! If you have any further questions, you can contact Student Finance England online on Twitter and Facebook.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Royal College of Music: Who Inspires You?

Ever thought about studying at a conservatoire? They provide specialist professional training at undergraduate and postgraduate level for talented musicians, actors, and dancers, to fulfil their creative and professional aspirations.

Want to know more? We spoke to two students from the Royal College of Music who share their inspiration to study at a conservatoire.

Cecilia Chan is a 4th year BMus cello student. She’ll be starting a Master of Music in Performance course in September, and reflects on the start of her musical journey.

I started learning the cello when I was 9 years old. My first cello teacher was a violinist who taught at my school in Hong Kong, and she decided to put me in the school orchestra a month after I started learning. I fell in love with orchestral playing from the very start, and I would credit her as the person who ignited the flame, who planted the seed that blossomed into a pursuit of a musical career.

My second teacher is a professional orchestral cellist, and I still visit him whenever I’m home. Every demonstration is a heartfelt performance, and I could hear his attention to detail and the love he has for the music. It was absolutely contagious, and further deepened my love and determination to become an orchestral cellist. My cello teacher at Wells Cathedral School saw the potential in me, and through polishing my technique and constantly encouraging and believing in me, she helped me build the self-confidence I lacked, and gave me the courage to audition for a conservatoire. These three cello teachers inspired me at different points of my life to study at a conservatoire, and I couldn’t thank them enough.

Thomas Erlank, from South Africa, is studying a Master of Performance in Vocal Performance, also at the Royal College of Music.

What inspired me to study at a conservatoire? Back in South Africa I was nudged in the direction of the Royal College of Music by a wonderful teacher called Sally Burgess, who encouraged me to reach my full potential. I met her during a workshop she taught in South Africa, and during this time in my life moving to another continent seemed impossible. She encouraged me to get myself to London in August 2013 for some consultations. As soon as I visited the college, I knew it was for me.

The following September, I started at the college, and now I am in my second year of postgraduate studies without a single thought of regret. The Royal College of Music truly lives up to its internationally acclaimed reputation.

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.