Higher education

Getting started

The majority of our students aim to go to university in the UK and, as there are thousands of courses at hundreds of different universities, it is important to start researching well in advance of making an application. Students are advised to supplement their on-line research by attending carefully selected university open days or taster courses.

UCAS, the official site for all UK universities and colleges offering higher education courses, is a good starting point for course research. The site offers guidance on choosing the right course and has links to the websites of all the higher education providers. Applications are made on-line through UCAS Apply and there is a step by step guide on how to apply and track an application. There is information for parents on how to support students to research and apply for courses and the option to sign up for regular newsletters.

University prospectuses can be viewed on-line and there is usually the option to request a hard copy from the university. Current prospectuses are also kept in the careers library.

Entry requirements

Many offers are given as grades but some are given as points and it is important to understand the UCAS tariff system. Whilst AS Levels currently offered by the school count towards the tariff, from September 2020 this will no longer be applicable.  Tariff points will comprise points related to grades achieved at A Level as below:

A Level
A* 56 UCAS points
A 48 UCAS points
B 40 UCAS points
C 32 UCAS points
D24 UCAS points
E 16 UCAS points

All students are offered the opportunity to participate in an Academic Enrichment Programme, including the option to engage in the independent study of the AQA Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), which has a UCAS points value equal to half of an A Level, as follows:

A* 28 UCAS points
A  24 UCAS points
B  20 UCAS points
C 16 UCAS points
D 12 UCAS points
E   8 UCAS points

Pre-admission requirements:

In addition to A level entry requirements, students should check well in advance of their application whether they will need to fulfil additional requirements. For example, many medical and dental schools require applicants to take the UK Clinical Aptitude Test or Biomedical Admissions Test as part of the admissions procedure. For some institutions there are other admissions tests such as LNAT(law), ELAT(English), HAT (history), STEP (maths) TSA(thinking skills). Details of these tests are on the individual university websites. All Oxbridge applicants are likely to be required to take either a formal pre-interview assessment or a test undertaken during the interview process itself.

Students applying for music and performing arts courses may need to prepare for auditions. Those applying for art and design related courses may be asked to email a mini portfolio shortly after submitting their application as well as providing a full portfolio of work if they are selected for interview.

Choosing the right course at the right university for you

In order to make the right choices students should expect to do a considerable amount of individual research as each student will have a different set of criteria when finding the right course for them as an individual. It is important to start by considering what these criteria are by asking questions such as:

  • Which subjects really interest me?
  • What are my talents?
  • What grades will I realistically achieve?
  • Would I like to combine subjects or concentrate on just one?
  • Would I like some experience in the workplace as part of my course?
  • Would I like to study abroad as part of my course?
  • Would I like a vocational course to prepare me for a particular career?
  • How would I like to be assessed – exams, coursework, practicals?
  • Do I want to live close to home, a different part of the country or go abroad?
  • Do I want to live on a campus, in a big city or a rural location?
  • How much will it cost - tuition fees, accommodation, living expenses, travel?
  • Which universities are good for my subject?
  • What are the facilities like?
  • Is there a good range of clubs, societies, social events?
  • What are my career goals?

Only after considering these sorts of questions to establish the criteria on which the choice is being made can a student start to find the right course at the right university for them - one where they will be happy and successful. There is no single university that is "best" for everyone.

We hope our students will talk through their ideas with family, friends, teachers, careers advisers and university admissions tutors, remembering that not all the information they receive will be impartial, before weighing up the evidence and making their decisions.

Writing your personal statement

The personal statement is an opportunity to tell universities about your suitability for your chosen course. It is important to provide evidence of enthusiasm and commitment, and demonstrate how you stand out from other applicants. Students begin work on personal statements during the Lower 6th and receive on-going support from tutors. The UCAS website also contains advice and information including a useful timeline, mindmap and worksheets designed to help students through this process.

Financing your degree

Information on the latest position regarding tuition fees, grants and loans is provided by Student Finance England . Bursaries and scholarships are also available from universities and other organisations such as charities and businesses for students who meet specific criteria. Details of university funded bursaries and scholarships are available on individual university websites and The Scholarship Hub contains a useful database of scholarships based on a range of eligibility criteria such as academic merit, financial need and special skills.

Guides to student finance for both full-time and part-time students are produced by Martin Lewis together with Universities UK and can be downloaded from the MoneySavingExpert website. Tuition fee loans, but not maintenance loans, are now available for students studying part-time for an undergraduate degree. Details of course fees and ways to pay for an Open University qualification are shown on the OU website.

Sponsored degrees and degree apprenticeships

Sponsored degrees can be a very attractive option for those who know what career they would like to pursue as they often provide full degree funding, work experience, a salary and a graduate role on completion though study is often undertaken as block placements.

Applications are usually made directly to the company rather than through UCAS so students can apply for these schemes in addition to their five UCAS choices. The application procedure will often involve online-tests, assessment centres and interviews.

Useful websites

Students are advised to regularly check individual university websites for the most up-to-date information on courses and entry requirements. The following websites are useful sources of information for students as they progress through the process of researching choices and making an application. There are also some excellent subject specific websites listed in the Careers Information section of our website.

The official universities and colleges admissions website. A massive site to keep coming back to. Students use Apply and Track to make their online applications and monitor progress
www.prospects.ac.uk This graduate website is also a fantastic resource for 6 th form students considering university courses.Start with the options with your subject section to research the type of careers that different degrees can lead on to
www.which.co.uk/university An independent site from Which? to help students make informed choices. You can refine searches by subject, location, interests etc andit includes data on eg.graduate salaries, number of applicants receiving offers and much more
www.applytouni.com Includes information on university choices and applications,league tables, student finance and examples of personal statements
www.whatuni.com A comprehensive university search site with the option to sign up for monthly newsletters
www.bestcourse4me.co.uk An independent site which demonstrates the links between what people study and their jobs and earnings afterwards
http://www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk/ Independent UK university league tables and advice on university and subject choices
Official website for Discover Uni and Unistats.
www.prospectusfinder.co.uk Provides a quick way to order printed prospectuses or view on-line versions
www.opendays.com A calendar of university open days
www.unitasterdays.com A database of university taster days
www.headstartcourses.org.uk Details of residential taster courses in, science technology, maths and engineering subjects
www.futurelearn.com Free online courses from leading UK and international universities.
www.gov.uk/studentfinance Information about tuition fees and student finance
www.moneysavingexpert.com/students A 6th Formers Guide explaining how student finance works
www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/Students The NHS business services authority site includes details of the NHS Student Bursary Scheme which is available to eligible students on some healthcare related degree courses
www.thescholarshiphub.org.uk Search for UK scholarships, grants or bursaries today on this comprehensive database
www.unofficial-guides.com University guides written by students
www.push.co.uk Independent guide to UK universities, open days, gap years student life & finance
http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/ The Student Room is where students can ask other students for advice.
www.ukcat.ac.uk Details of the UK Clinical Aptitude Test for admission to some dental and medical schools
Details of the Biomedical Admissions Test required for some medical, biomedical and veterinary courses and other admissions tests for specified courses at several universities
www.lnat.ac.uk Details of the national admissions test required by some law schools
www.cam.ac.uk/assessment Details of the University of Cambridge undergraduate courses which require subject specific written assessments
http://www.thefaculties.org/ Includes podcasts of university lecturers speaking on topics related to the A level curriculum and information on careers related to subject areas
www.parentadviser.co.uk Advice for parents on the range of post 18 options.
http://russellgroup.ac.uk/for-students/ Guidance from the Russell Group of UK universities aimed at year 11 students making appropriate post-16 subject choices for a wide variety of university courses