Category Archives: Advice Features

Mid-UCAS Application Cycle Activities: Interviews, Offers and Late Applications

With competition for places on undergraduate courses fiercer than ever this year, it’s important that applicants are well-prepared for upcoming interviews and the subsequent decision making process once offers have been received from institutions. If you’ve not yet applied, you’ll need to think about doing so if you’d still like to be considered for a course commencing this Autumn.

Interviews and Offers

You may find the following articles we previously posted of help if you’re about to start attending interviews or are wondering about choosing which offers to accept:

Late Applications

If you’ve not yet applied and are thinking about studying at university in Autumn 2010, there may still be the chance to apply as a late applicant if there are still vacancies on the course or courses you are interested in. You can use the course search facility on the UCAS website to search for courses of interest. The search results returned will show you a list of courses (and the universities offering them) based on the search criteria you have specified. You will be able to tell whether a course is closed or not by whether or not the letter ‘C’ is shown against a particular course. Where the letter ‘C’ is shown against a course, this means that the course is closed to further applications at the time and you cannot, therefore, enter this particular course choice on your UCAS application form. If a course is available, you are free to add that course as a choice on your form.

Whatever stage of the process you’re at, action is key to ensuring that you optimise your chances of success in securing a university place.

For more information about courses available at Birmingham City University, please call Choices on 0121 331 5595 or email us.

Graduate futures: postgraduate study funding

Unlike undergraduate courses, the majority of postgraduate courses are not supported by government funding. This can present a dilemma to prospective students who wish to further their academic studies to the next level after graduation.

There are some exceptions to this, including PGCE and postgraduate Social Work and NHS-funded qualifications, where students may be entitled to financial support. PGCE funding can involve loans and grants from the LEA and a teacher training bursary. Postgraduate Social Work courses may attract funding which can be used for fees and living costs from the Department of Health as can a number of NHS-funded graduate courses.

So, for courses where there’s no governmental funding available, where else can a prospective postgraduate student look for funding?

Continue reading Graduate futures: postgraduate study funding

Employability: Giving Graduates the Upper Hand

When recruiting graduates, employers are increasingly rating sound employability skills as a highly valuable trait for candidates to offer. In a recent BBC News online article, head of the CBI, Richard Lambert, stresses ‘students must get skills and first-hand experience of work while still at university.’ A recent report launched by the CBI and Universities UK indicates that 78% of employers who were surveyed view employability skills as ‘essential’.

When it comes to considering the vast array of university courses on offer, prospective students are being more considered in their subject and institution choices. More and more, they’re looking for courses which are not just of purely academic value to them and are placing an increasing emphasis on being able to gain practical knowledge and experience as part of their course in order to help give them a competitive edge in their future careers. Employability is rapidly becoming a factor that influences prospective students’ choices.

Through its expertise as a provider of many vocationally relevant programmes, Birmingham City University is well positioned to provide a combination of academic and practical knowledge which reflect the changing demands of prospective students.

Continue reading Employability: Giving Graduates the Upper Hand

Mathematics and English requirements for Higher Education courses

University course entry requirements often stipulate that prospective students will need to have suitable qualifications and grades in mathematics and English in addition to other entry requirements for their courses. In UK institutions, GCSEs may be specified as the minimum required level although certain university courses may require a higher level qualification for entry onto particular courses.

Alternative qualifications, such as Key Skills qualifications, can sometimes be considered in lieu of GCSEs but this is very much dependent upon the university and course, so prospective students should endeavour to check individual entry requirements before considering undertaking any alternative qualifications. For example, teacher training courses have requirements for English and mathematics (and for Primary Education and Early Years courses Science) which are very specific. Key Skills qualifications are not appropriate in this instance, so it’s essential that those wishing to apply for a teacher training course have appropriate qualifications in these areas.

Prospective students whose first language isn’t English often have to demonstrate other appropriate English language qualifications or achieve specific scores or grades in tests such as IELTS or TOEFL. There are potentially a wide range of qualifications that could be considered in this instance, but it’s important that clarification is sought with individual institutions as to their policies on this.  

These core requirements depend on the university’s individual entry requirement policies, so the golden rule is that you should always check with the institutions you’re thinking about applying to in order to find out exactly what qualifications you will need to offer in advance of signing up for them.

How to… decide which offer to accept

So you’ve received offers on your application choices. For some the decision of which one to accept is easy, but what if you’re still unsure of which one to accept? Is there anything you can do to help you make this important decision?

Have you had the opportunity to visit the universities you’ve applied to yet? If not, then why not contact them to find out if there are open days or visit days that you can attend. These events often provide a useful means of finding out more about the course you’ve applied to and the university environment itself. If the universities you’ve applied to are in other cities to your hometown, it also gives you the chance to have a look round the area and get a feel for whether it is somewhere that you’d like to spend the next three or four years!

Do you have any questions about the course that you feel you really need to ask before making your decision? Admissions Tutors and advice staff within universities are ready to help prospective students who need further information and help and understand the complexities faced when making such an important, and potentially life-changing, decision. Contact them – they’re there to help you and can provide you with additional information that may help you to weigh up your options. Here at Birmingham City University, the Choices team are here to help. Call us on 0121 331 5595 or email choices@bcu.ac.uk.

The Application Process: Interviews

As part of the application process, applicants may be required to attend an interview for their chosen course or courses. The following points are intended as general guidelines for interviews. Each university may offer a specific interview format, with some requiring practical assessments and tests or a review of portfolio work where appropriate. You should check with the individual university to clarify their interview or assessment methods for a particular course.

Before the interview:

Research the course

What is it about the course you’ve chosen that made you select it over other subjects? What’s involved in the course you’re applying for? What sort of skills does it involve – practical, analytical, research? What can you draw on from your previous studies or work experience which help to demonstrate your suitability for the course? If the course leads to a professional qualification, what qualities do you have which lend well to that professional area?

Research the university  

Why are you applying to the university? What made you choose it over other universities? Ill-considered responses, such as ‘because my friends are coming here’ or ‘because I don’t have to get out of bed too early to get here’, will not be looked upon well by Admissions Tutors.  Continue reading The Application Process: Interviews

New Year, New Opportunities?

With the advent of a New Year, people often take time to reflect and start thinking about future aspirations. Maybe:

  • There’s something you’ve always been interested in – like learning a new skill or hobby, for example.
  • You’re considering a change of direction in terms of your career or professional development.
  • You want to do something to because you’re motivated by improving your knowledge in a particular area.

There are a whole host of ways you could go about making these changes – there may be local workshops, adult education classes or short courses provided by education providers in the area. For more significant changes, you could be looking at retraining through a degree or professional qualification.

Careers advice:

If you’d like to explore avenues for developing yourself or doing something different but you’re unsure about what you’d like to do, perhaps talking to a careers advisor could help. Visit http://careersadvice.direct.gov.uk/  for more information about contacting a qualified careers advisor.

Study options:

If you do decide to take up study; it doesn’t have to mean studying on a full-time course; there are a multitude of part-time or short course options that might be appropriate, depending on the subject you’re interested in. But, if you do want to consider more substantive study options, it’s important to be fully clued up on what’s available and what you’ll need to do. You’ll need to research courses, study commitment and costs for starters.

Finding a course to suit you:

Tools such as www.hotcourses.com can help you to find everything from short courses to postgraduate study in your area or further afield. Postgraduate study options can be researched at www.prospects.ac.uk. The UCAS website has a great course search function, allowing you to explore available full-time undergraduate courses. And, of course, university and college websites will tell you more about what’s on offer at particular institutions.

Money matters:

How much will the course you’re looking at cost? Is there any financial support available? Here are a few starting points you can use to find out more about possible sources of funding:

  • Information about financial help for adult learners can be found here
  • Want information about student financial support for University and Higher Education courses? Look here for more details.
  • Postgraduate funding is different to undergraduate funding and there is, generally, no financial support available through the government. However, there are exceptions to this, such as certain NHS-funded courses, Social Work courses and PGCE qualifications. Prospective postgraduate students often need to be resourceful in seeking out funding opportunities. If your proposed study is related to your current job role, is it feasible to talk to your employer about support for the course – either as study leave or in terms of paying for the course? Are there any relevant scholarships or bursaries available? The Prospects website has links to resources which can help you find any such schemes.

First steps:

Whatever spurs you on, you can start taking steps towards your goals and exploring options open to you. If you’d like to chat to a course adviser about any courses offered at Birmingham City University, please contact Choices on 0121 331 5595 or email us.

Graduate options: considering postgraduate study

Postgraduate study can provide a rewarding and exciting route to developing yourself personally, academically or professionally. There can be a whole host of reasons as to why those who decide to take up further study choose to do so at different stages of their lives.

However you arrive at a decision to study, it’s important that you are comfortable with any decision you reach, considering the full range of options available to you in terms of course selection, institution and funding.

Finding a suitable course

There are a myriad of course options available to prospective students. Think about what you want to get out of postgraduate study. Do you want to enhance your knowledge in a subject related to your bachelor’s degree? Are you seeking a course which will provide a professionally recognised qualification in a particular area? Do you want to change direction completely? You need to ask yourself as many questions as you need to in order to draw out relevant information on which you can base your decision. Continue reading Graduate options: considering postgraduate study

Applying for a Professionally-Focused Course: Researching Subject Areas

When prospective students are applying for courses which offer a particular professional focus, it’s often important to ensure that the application demonstrates clear justification as to why an applicant thinks they are suitable for the given subject. Supporting knowledge and practical skills may be things that university admissions tutors look for when considering applications. As a general rule, it’s advisable for prospective students to check with individual institutions to find out what constitutes a good personal statement in relation to the subject they’re applying for.

The following weblinks are useful sources of information for prospective students considering applying for specific professionally-orientated subject areas offered at Birmingham City University. Whilst not an exhaustive list by any means, it may be helpful in terms of providing a starting point to research particular professions or to refer to when considering relevant personal skills and/or experiences that might be discussed within a personal statement. Continue reading Applying for a Professionally-Focused Course: Researching Subject Areas

Tips for Writing your Personal Statement

When applying to university, a good personal statement can really help to differentiate your application from the potentially hundreds of others you’re competing with. It’s your opportunity to sell yourself to university admissions tutors and demonstrate to them that you’re focused and committed to the subject you’re applying for. 

Many applications are let down by poorly considered personal statements so it’s well worth spending some time carefully contemplating the impact of your statement in order to maximise your chances of making a successful application. Writing one can seem like a daunting task but with a little preparation and planning it need not be. Choices shares some tips to consider when compiling yours.

Have a plan

Before you begin, jot down some key points that need to be included in your personal statement.  These could include your motivation for choosing the subject, your career aspirations, details of relevant work experience (paid or voluntary), placements, evidence of your strengths and details of your personal qualities or skills. Continue reading Tips for Writing your Personal Statement