Tag Archives: university

Parent’s Guide | Part 7: The first few weeks at university

In the final part of our Parents’ Guide series, a Choices adviser looks at the initial period following your son or daughter starting their University course.

This is a time of adjustment for both you as a parent and your son or daughter. The silence at home will be an unusual sensation; the reduced need for ‘Dad’s/ Mum’s Cabs’ feels strange and you may be surprised at how much cheaper the weekly food shopping has suddenly become.

Your son or daughter may become homesick at some point. Being in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people can be very unsettling. This is a totally normal and natural reaction by some students when they first join university. Acknowledge any concerns they have and be supportive, but try not to reinforce homesickness by encouraging them to return home at weekends – this will only serve to make them feel more isolated from university life. Part of the transition to university life away from home is a journey of self discovery, development and independence and it takes time to establish.

Continue reading Parent’s Guide | Part 7: The first few weeks at university

Parents’ Guide | Part 6: Arriving at University

So, you’ve got through the seemingly endless paperwork of university applications and student finance forms, you’ve done the rounds of university open days, you’ve experienced the nerve-wracking exam results day and now, quite possibly, feel as if you’ve spent a small fortune on kitting your son or daughter out in preparation for them starting their course. Without so much as a chance to catch your breath, the time’s suddenly here for your son or daughter to take the next step in their life.

Continue reading Parents’ Guide | Part 6: Arriving at University

Parents’ Guide | Part 5: The Final Checklist

Have you forgotten anything? Here are a few things you should act upon now if you’ve not already completed them:

  • Student finance forms completed?
  • Accommodation application completed?
  • Place confirmed?
  • Course commencement details received?
  • Exam certificates/ results received?
  • Accommodation confirmed?
  • Student bank account?
  • Insurance arranged?
  • TV licence acquired?
  • Basic living items purchased? (If living away from home)
  • Area map?
  • Student travel pass?
  • Money to tide your son or daughter over in case of delays in receiving their financial support?

Continue reading Parents’ Guide | Part 5: The Final Checklist

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

Parents’ Guide | Part 1: In advance – number crunching

In the first part of our Parents’ Guide series, a Choices adviser looks at sources of information you can use to find out more about funding options for undergraduate courses.

Looking at option for financial support to study a degree often seems like a jungle with loans for fees, loans and grants for maintenance and bursaries all forming elements that can help eligible students to meet the costs of living and studying whilst at university.

As a parent, the importance of exploring the full range of information about student financial support goes without saying. Here at Birmingham City University, dedicated staff can help you find out more about the options for funding courses we provide. Our course information and guidance centre, Choices, have a team of friendly, knowledgeable advisers who can provide information about potential sources of funding.

If you require more in-depth advice or information, Birmingham City University’s student financial advisers are on hand to talk to you about the full range of options available and entitlements to additional assistance. They also provide assistance to students whilst they’re studying with us, with support and advice in areas including basic money management skills, contacts for trusts and charities who may offer opportunities for student sponsorship and information about tax. For access to online information, please visit http://www.bcu.ac.uk/studentservices/studentfinance/index.html.

Student Finance England offer information and advice about support available for Higher Education courses. You can find out more at Direct.gov.uk.

Student charity, UniAid, not only provide advice and information about student finance but also provide a handy tool for calculating an idea of personal entitlements to student financial support. To get a better idea of how much help your son or daughter could receive, visit http://www.studentcalculator.org.uk/.

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.

UCAS Extra

UCAS Extra allows applicants who’ve used up all their choices on the UCAS application form and have not secured an offer of a place with these choices an additional chance to be considered for another course or university before Clearing starts.

It allows eligible applicants to approach individual universities to see if they can be accepted onto a course there.

To be eligible to use Extra you need to have:

• already made five choices;
• received decisions from all these choices; and
• either had no offers or declined all the offers you have received.

UCAS created the Extra scheme to specifically help those who are still seeking places to try and avoid having to go through Clearing if at all possible. Continue reading UCAS Extra

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