The Parents' Guide to -

Page created by Perry Mccoy
The Parents' Guide to -
The Parents’ Guide to University   2021 - 2022

The Parents’ Guide to

2021-2022                               | 1
The Parents' Guide to -
The Parents’ Guide to University 2021 - 2022                                                   The Parents’ Guide to University   2021 - 2022

                                                                                                                                                              Click m interac
                                                                                                                                                                    me        tive
                                                                                                                                                                go to if you wa !
                                                                                                                                                                      the c      n
                                                                                                                                                                            hapt t to

   How to get the most out of this guide

   Useful links                                  Key terms
   If you want to delve deeper and find          Easy to understand definitions are
   out more, we’ve included useful links         provided throughout this guide
   to other reliable sources. Simply             in the key terms boxes. Don’t let
   click on the picture icons to be taken        tricky terminology stop you from
   to our recommended websites.                  supporting your child.
                                                                                               05 - Introduction                                53 - The UCAS process
   Call out boxes                                Interactive
   Information we think is particularly          To make moving around this guide
   important has been highlighted                easier, the contents and chapter
   throughout this guide; pay special            headings are interactive. Simply
   attention to these!                           click on a heading to be taken to the
                                                 chapter or page you would like to
   Summaries                                     read.
   To help save you time, we have                This guide does not need to be read
   provided useful summaries at the              sequentially – browse what interests
   end of each chapter containing the            you most.
   key points.                                                                                 09 - Choosing the right                          77 - Results day 2022

     This guide has been produced by The Parents Guide to and is licensed to Holy Cross
   College to share with parents and others connected with Holy Cross College throughout
                    the 2021/2022 academic year. Click here to learn more.

     Wherever we refer to ‘parents’ we mean ‘parents and carers.’ This includes grand-
    parents, older siblings or any other person with significant caring responsibilities for
                                                                                               27 - Choosing the                                101 - Next steps
                                                                                                    right course

1 |
2 |                                                                                                            | 3
The Parents' Guide to -
The Parents’ Guide to University   2021 - 2022

                                        The prospect of your child going to              step of the way. The “right” university
                                        university is very exciting. Attending           means the right university for them:
                                        university can offer them a great                one which offers courses they’d like
                                        foundation for their future success              to study; where they will fit in and feel
                                        and happiness; both in obtaining                 comfortable; one that will stretch their
                                        further qualifications and in providing          abilities without breaking them; and
                                        a protected environment to transition            one where they will feel safe and happy.
                                        from teenager to adult.                          The “right” university will differ from
                                                                                         child to child – even within the same
                                        It’s an exciting time for you too. Yes, it’s     family. So how do you decide what is
                                        only their hard work that can get them           right? We’ll guide you.
                                        to university, but you’ve contributed
                                        along the way with love, support and             Of course, whilst going to university
                                        encouragement. It can be a daunting              is first and foremost about getting a
                                        time as well. There is pressure to make          higher-level qualification, it offers much
                                        the right choices, a myriad of options           more than that. It’s about learning
                                        available and, especially in the case of         to research independently, create
                                        a first or last child leaving home, the          professional relationships, develop
                                        likelihood of a whole different way of           lasting friendships, living without
                                        life, not only for them, but for you too.        parental supervision, adopting fun and
                                                                                         meaningful hobbies and interests. It’s
                                        Selecting the right university will be           learning to be a grown-up: self-reliant,
                                        one of the most important decisions              resourceful and confident. It’s a time
                                        your child faces in shaping their future         when you’ll watch your teen become an
                                        and you will want to help them every             adult.

                                                                                  Join us
                                                 If you’re interested in regular updates about other ways you can help your
                                                         teenage children, click here and join our online community.

                                                                                Sign up here

4 |
4 |                                                        | 5
The Parents' Guide to -
The Parents’ Guide to University   2021 - 2022

                                  Providing the information
                                  you need
                                  The selection and application process            With so much depending on it, the
                                  can seem complicated, especially                 thought of applying to university can be
                                  if you have not been to university               stressful for parents and children alike.
                                  yourself. If you have, that may have             We believe that once you understand the
                                  been some time ago and things                    process and timelines, this will eliminate
                                  have probably changed. There’s                   much of the stress for you (and, in turn,
                                  plenty of great information online               your child) ensuring energy is focused in
                                                                                   the most constructive way to get the best
                                  for students, but very little designed
                                                                                   possible outcomes.
                                  specifically for parents, so it can be
                                  quite complicated to track down the              Our aim is to help you eliminate doubt
                                  exact information you need.                      and anxiety, so you can provide calm and
                                                                                   informed support. This will empower
                                  That’s why we’ve created this                    you to offer more helpful guidance to
                                  straightforward guide covering the               your child, with the ultimate goal of
                                  application process, starting from what          helping them create a future to fulfil their
                                  your child should consider in making             potential and make themselves (and
                                  good choices to what happens on results          you!) happy.
                                  day once they’ve completed sixth form -
                                  and everything in between.                       Researching universities and courses
                                                                                   should be an enjoyable experience, not a
                                  This includes step-by-step information           headache. Don’t forget: your child has as
                                  on:                                              much choice and influence in selecting
                                  • What to look out for when considering          the right university as the university has
                                    different universities and courses;            in selecting the right students.
                                  • The UCAS application process;
                                  • What to do on results day, whether
                                    predicted grades have been matched,
                                    surpassed or missed.

6 |
6 |                                                  | 7
The Parents' Guide to -
The Parents’
             Guideto to University
                     University 2020 2021
                                     - 2021- 2022                                 The Parents’ Guide to University   2021 - 2022

                                                                                  Choosing the right university
                                                                                                                                   Types of universities
                                                                                                                                   What are the different categories and
                                                                                                                                   do they mean anything?

                                                                                                                                   Important factors to consider
                                                                                                                                   How do I know which university is
                                                                                                                                   the right one for my child?

                                                                                                                                   Open days
                                                                                                                                   How to get the best out of open days.

      I had a preferred university when I
      was researching potential courses,
      but I changed my mind after visiting.

8 |                                                                                             | 9
The Parents' Guide to -
The Parents’ Guide to University 2021 - 2022                                                The Parents’ Guide to University   2021 - 2022

Types of universities
Ancient, Russell, Civic or Plate-              studied at earlier universities). Some       Russell Group Universities                       sector links. They are considered the
Glass? Different terms are used for            other universities established after the     Some universities belong to the                  top universities in the country, and
different types of university and this         1800s are also included in this category,    “Russell” Group. The name originates             certainly benefit from high levels of
can be confusing. Some universities            although some dispute whether they           from informal meetings held in the               funding (they receive almost two-thirds
are members of more than one                   deserve the classification – irrespective    Russell Hotel of 17 university heads who         of all research funds) and, given their
group whilst others choose not                 of the fact that, being built later, their   were keen to ensure their interests were         strong reputation, entry requirements
to be members of any. There are                architectural styles are not in red brick.   represented to government. The group             are likely to be high. Does obtaining a
                                                                                                                                             degree at a Russell university make a
over 150 universities vying for                                                             was incorporated in 2007 and there
                                               Plate Glass Universities                     are currently 24 Russell universities, all       difference? No doubt, there’s a certain
applications. What’s the difference
                                               The “Plate Glass” (or “plateglass”)          of which have an excellent reputation            kudos attached, but other universities
and do the names mean anything?                                                                                                              might offer more appropriate
                                               universities were established during         for research, teaching and industry
                                               the 1960s and, like red brick, take                                                           opportunities so try not to be biased.
Broadly speaking, the categories of
university relate to the time at which         their name from the construction
they were established. This lends itself       materials of the buildings – typically        FOR A LIST OF ALL RUSSELL GROUP
                                               plate glass in concrete frames. Plate
to different subject specialisms and
                                               Glass Universities were the next batch
                                                                                             UNIVERSITIES CLICK HERE
teaching styles.
                                               of universities to be given royal charter
Ancient Universities                           between 1963 and 1992.
The original seven “ancient”
universities were established before
1600. The earliest was the University of
Oxford in 1096 and the latest was the
University of Dublin in 1592.

Red Brick Universities
“Red Brick” (or “Civic”) universities
were established during the industrial
revolution of the 1800s, usually in
cities. They got their name because
of their iconic red brick - a popular
building material at the time. The
original six members (Birmingham,
Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester
                                               New Universities
and Sheffield) specialised in much             “New” universities generally refer
needed vocational skills such as               to what were previously called
medicine and engineering (rather than          polytechnics until gaining university
the arts, language and theology as             status from 1992 onwards.

10 |                                                                                                        | 11
The Parents' Guide to -
The Parents’ Guide to University   2021 - 2022                                               The Parents’ Guide to University 2021 - 2022

Important factors to consider
                                                                                             Campus or city                                 the town so travelling (sometimes
Teaching and learning                            University size                                                                            some distance) from one place to
                                                                                             The big question here is “to campus or
Most universities follow the academic            Like secondary schools, universities                                                       another is part and parcel of the
                                                                                             not to campus”. The great advantage of
year of schools, starting in September           can vary enormously in size and the                                                        package. This provides a closer
                                                                                             campus universities is that everything is
/ October and finishing in June / July           advantages and drawbacks should                                                            experience to life in the workplace
                                                                                             in one place – lectures, accommodation,
with three terms.                                be considered depending upon                                                               for most people and it gives students
                                                                                             clubs, laundries, shops etc. They are
                                                 your child’s learning styles. Large                                                        a chance to become fully immersed
                                                                                             usually situated just outside or on the
Ancient Universities (such as Oxford,            universities offer a much wider subject                                                    in the city itself. Whilst approved
                                                                                             borders of larger towns – “a town within
Cambridge, Edinburgh) have been                  choice, alongside greater social                                                           accommodation may be offered in the
                                                                                             a town”. The impression can be that
established over many centuries                  opportunities with an astonishing                                                          first year or two, later in their degree
                                                                                             they are safer, offer less distractions and
and tend to offer traditional subjects           array of clubs that could give your child                                                  students are often required to find their
                                                                                             provide a stronger sense of community
(Maths, English, languages) taught in            the chance to learn a wonderful new                                                        own accommodation independently.
                                                                                             because, in the main, students tend to
a traditional style. By contrast, newer          hobby that lasts a lifetime. Smaller                                                       In some cases, universities won’t offer
                                                                                             stay campus based.
universities (such as Loughborough,              universities cannot compete with this                                                      accommodation in halls if the family
York and Suffolk) offer more vocational          (especially specialist establishments);                                                    home is within a certain mileage, so it’s
                                                                                             City universities offer the same
subjects taught using less traditional           however, they may offer a greater sense                                                    worth checking the university website.
                                                                                             facilities, but they are split up across
methods. Personal learning styles are            of community and belonging.
important to consider. If your child
excels when given lots of direction and
little autonomy, a more traditional
                                                                                               CARDIFF UNIVERSITY -
learning environment might help them                                                           A CAMPUS BASED UNIVERSITY
achieve better results and vice-versa if
they perform better when left largely to
their own devices.

Industry links
Try to find out about the university
and its industry links. Strong
ties with industry often indicate
excellent internship and placement
opportunities which is very attractive
for post degree employment prospects,
especially important if you do not have
these links within your own families
and contacts.

12 |                                                                                                        | 13
The Parents' Guide to -
The Parents’ Guide to University 2021 - 2022                                              The Parents’ Guide to University   2021 - 2022

Proximity to home                              Rural or city based
Flying the nest is more appealing to           Another consideration is whether your
some than others! This is an important         child prefers town or country living. A
consideration. Attending university is,        university’s location could drive many
for most students, the first time they’ve      of the social activities they offer, so
lived away from home. For some, this           if your child is happiest immersed in
is exciting and appealing, for others it’s     the countryside and loves trekking,
traumatic and challenging.                     mountain-climbing and cross-country,
                                               they could feel short-changed by being
Of course, there are practical                 plunged into an urban setting and
implications too. If the university is         vice-versa.
close to home, it may be possible to
avoid accommodation costs, although            If your child has a particular passion,
continuing to live in the family home          it is worth checking out whether the
can dilute the university experience           university already has a group focused
in many ways – although this can be            around this hobby or, if not, how easy
combatted by signing up to plenty of           it would be to set up. Don’t consider it
clubs and socials. But as parents it will      trivial to focus on pastimes, happiness
be different for you too! Your lifestyle       is a primary driver for success, and
will change if your child continues to         a university’s environment can
live at home but is attending university       contribute hugely.
rather than school.

Is it important that your child can easily
                                                 Try to be neutral
pop home at weekends or will they
adjust favourably to only returning              The tough challenge here is
during holiday periods?                          putting aside your preferences
                                                 as a parent and supporting your
                                                 child in the choices that are right
                                                 for them – particularly if they
                                                 are polar opposites to your own.
                                                 Don’t forget, it’s natural to feel
                                                 protective of your brood and want
                                                 to keep them close but university
                                                 provides a good opportunity for
                                                 them to fly the nest in a protected

14 |                                                                                               
The Parents' Guide to -
The Parents’ Guide to University   2021 - 2022                                                The Parents’ Guide to University   2021 - 2022

Open days
Most universities offer an “open                 Plan ahead                                   Virtual Open Days                                participate where possible. They will still
day” for prospective students,                   It is vital your child arrives prepared to   With restrictions on social distancing,          need to book ahead, so they get all the
including lectures and talks, as well            get plenty of answers to whether the         physical visits were often not possible          information and timetable in advance,
as existing staff and students on                university can meet their needs. Ideally,    last year, so universities offered “virtual      allowing them to choose which events
hand to answer questions. Websites,              being armed with lots of questions to        open days”. This is likely to continue           they’re interested in. Without the need
literature and videos can all give an            ask during a visit gives a good basis for    through 2021. Whilst virtual open days           to travel, they may even be able to
excellent sense of the university, but           conversation and interaction on the          do not provide the same insights as              attend more open days, giving them a
                                                                                                                                               broader perspective on what’s on offer
nothing beats a personal visit.                  day, which could help them stand out.        making a personal visit, do get your
                                                                                              teen to make the best out of them and            and how universities differ.
If you can, join your child on visits            However, if your child hasn’t yet gained
without taking control; go with                  the confidence to do this, then they
them on open days to give them                   could contact a student representative        ENCOURAGE YOUR CHILD TO MAKE
support and guidance (it can be                  ahead of the visit and get answers            THE MOST OF VIRTUAL OPEN DAYS
daunting visiting a new place,                   by email or set up a chat with a
                                                 student while they’re there. What’s
much more so when you think it
                                                 important is to get a good sense of the
could hold the key to your future
                                                 comprehensive opportunities available
happiness) but give them some                    and whether they are offered in an
time alone if they need it.                      environment that suits your child’s
                                                 personality to make the most of them.
Think beyond academics
Don’t focus solely on the academic               Trust your child’s instincts
elements of the university. Check out            No matter how appealing a course
halls of residence, social centres and           might be, if your child hates the feel of
sports facilities. If the university is          the university the minute they step in
town-based, spend time in the local              the door, it’s highly unlikely that they
area and give some thought to how it             will get either the qualifications or
would feel living there for the next few         experience they deserve. What looks
years. It’s not a lifelong commitment,           good in theory doesn’t always match
but three-to-five years, especially for a        up in reality. Pay heed if they take an
late teenager, seems a long time.                instant dislike to a place.
From a practical viewpoint, what looks           Make the most of any offers
like a hop, skip and a jump on the               Remember to check the university
map could prove a deal-breaker when              websites. Some offer vouchers towards
thinking of the practicalities of living         the cost of travel to open days.
in one part of town but learning in

16 |                                                                                                          | 17
The Parents' Guide to -
The Parents’ Guide to University 2021 - 2022                                                The Parents’ Guide to University   2021 - 2022

Preparing for an open day
To get the best value out of university        they can only take part in a virtual open    Speak with students                               The art of seduction
open days, it’s advisable to prepare           day, there will still be an opportunity to   Whilst open days provide an                       Universities take the opportunity of
in advance. Open days often include            ask questions.                               opportunity to receive information on             open days to showcase their most
a variety of lectures, walking tours                                                        the degree course and the university              impressive facilities. Be mindful, what
and presentations, so your child               Prepare questions in advance                 itself, nothing beats hearing from                you are being shown likely represents
should check what’s on offer and plan          Do not be afraid to ask questions. Open      someone with first-hand experience                the very best they have to offer. Don’t
accordingly.                                   days provide the perfect opportunity         of what it is like to study there. It’s a         let your child be totally seduced by this,
                                               to receive direct answers to questions       good idea for both of you to speak to             they must make their decision based
In addition, they should make a list of        that may be difficult to find online.        current undergraduate students if the             on plenty of other research too.
questions that they want to ask each           Furthermore, answers to some questions       opportunity arises - ask them questions
university so they can compare and             may be different compared to the previous    about teaching quality, societies,                Don’t stress if you can’t attend
contrast differences to help with their        year, such as whether they would make        accommodation and the local area.                 If you and your child are unable to
decision making. Which questions should        exceptions to the entry requirements                                                           make the official open day, then you
they ask staff, which are better aimed at      stated on their website. Both you and your   Walk and observe (if possible)                    could arrange a private viewing. Call the
students, or should they ask the same          child should think of some questions in      Walk around the campus and university             admissions team to arrange a suitable
questions to both? Don’t forget, even if       advance rather than thinking on the spot.    town or city. Try to encourage your child         date and time to visit. Whilst you are likely
                                                                                            to get a good feel for the environment.           to miss out on some of the lectures and
                                                                                            Can they imagine themselves living                presentations that are organised during
                                                                                            there? Do the students look happy? Is it          an open day, you may still be able to
                                                                                            a friendly place to be?                           speak with a member of staff from the
                                                                                                                                              relevant faculty.

                                                                                            Useful links
                                                                                                                                      I’m in
                                                                                                                                      and I teractive
                                                                                                                                           ’ll tak      !C
                                                                                                 Whatuni                UCAS                      e you lick me
                                                                                                                                               webs      to th
                                                                                              - Virtual tours         Open Days                     ite        eir
                                                                                                and events            and events

18 |                                                                                                            | 19
The Parents’ Guide to University   2021 - 2022   The Parents’ Guide to University   2021 - 2022

                                                 Questions for an open day -
                                                 what your child can ask

                                                      • Will I still be considered if I do        • Does the university provide any
                                                        not meet my predicted grades or             additional support for students
                                                        if I do not have the GCSE entry             with a particular learning
                                                        requirements stated on your                 difficulty (e.g. dyslexia)?
                                                        website?                                  • What does the university offer
                                                      • What is the university looking              with regards to career support
                                                        for in a student’s application /            and guidance?
                                                        personal statement - is there             • What type of careers / jobs do
                                                        anything I can do to increase               students go on to have after
                                                        my chances of being offered a               graduating?
                                                                                                  • Can a student take on part-time
                                                      • How many hours of timetabled                employment whilst studying?
                                                        teaching does the university
                                                        provide and what is the ratio             • Does the university provide
                                                        between lecture and seminar                 opportunities to study abroad
                                                        teaching?                                   / work in industry (or can you
                                                                                                    tell me more about these
                                                      • What additional support does                opportunities)?
                                                        the university provide if a
                                                        student finds certain parts of the        • Will the coronavirus pandemic
                                                        course particularly challenging?            affect the way the course will
                                                                                                    operate this year?

20 ||                                                            | 21
The Parents’ Guide to University 2021 - 2022                                        The Parents’ Guide to University   2021 - 2022

Summary                                                                             Advice from parents

   University is about much                    3. Will distance from home
   more than obtaining further                    affect your child’s success and                                             		          Virtual tours of the campus
   qualifications. To succeed, your               happiness;                                                                  and accommodation might not be as
   child must feel comfortable.                                                                                               good as the real thing, but they’re still
                                                                                                                              worthwhile and give a good idea about
                                               4. Will your child do better in a
                                                                                                                              what’s on offer.
   1. Think abut location, size, and              closed (campus) or townbased
      atmosphere of the university;               (non-campus) environment;

   2. Choosing the right course is more 5. Take advantage of open days or

      important than the university        university visits, and try to ensure
      type;                                your child prepares in advance.

                                                                                                                              		           Don’t worry if the right
                                                                                                                              university for your child is far from home
                                                                                                                              and you don’t get to see each other
                                                                                                                              as often as you would like. Sara could
                                                                                                                              only come home during the holidays,
                                                                                                                              but we found lots of ways to keep in
                                                                                                                              touch - Facetime and Whatsapp were our

                                                                                                                           “  		            Make sure the university
                                                                                                                              offers facilities for your child to enjoy their
                                                                                                                              hobbies. The Olympic sized swimming pool
                                                                                                                              at Birmingham university enabled Chris to
                                                                                                                              continue competing on a national level.

22 |                                                                                                 | 23
The Parents’ Guide to University   2021 - 2022

The Parents’ Guide to
University is not the best choice for            ✓✓ Types of apprenticeship – the
every student. Apprenticeships can be a             qualifications needed to apply,
great route to career success, especially           what qualifications can be achieved
for teenagers who find it easier to learn           and how long each apprenticeship
through practical application rather                lasts
than academic study. Apprenticeships             ✓✓ Degree apprenticeships – how
are often termed “earn while you learn”             they differ from full-time university
because they combine study with paid                degrees
employment resulting in a professional
qualification.                                   ✓✓ How to research an apprenticeship
                                                 ✓✓ Top ten apprenticeship providers
Don’t rule out the fact that an                  ✓✓ The application process and how it
apprenticeship could be the right                   differs from applying to university
choice for your child. Find out
everything you need to know in The               ✓✓ How to help your child prepare for
Parents’ Guide to Apprenticeships:                  interview
✓✓ The pros and cons – why                       ✓✓ What you can do to get them ready
   apprenticeships are ideal for some               Preparing for life at work
   teens but not others

                                                                                                  m e to
                                                                                                k       !
                                                                                            Clic y now

                                                                                                            Buy now

24 ||
The Parents’ Guide to University   2021 - 2022                                 The Parents’ Guide to University   2021 - 2022

                                                                               Choosing the right course
                                                                                                                                Types of courses
                                                                                                                                What options are there for my child
                                                                                                                                wanting to pursue higher education and
                                                                                                                                how do we research the right course?

                                                                                                                                League tables
                                                                                                                                What is the difference between
                                                                                                                                national and subject league tables
                                                                                                                                and are they important?

                                                                                                                                University fees and learning
                                                                                                                                What loans are available for my child

                                                                                                                                and how do we apply?

   After a lot of research, I decided to do a                                                                                   Summary
   degree course in Space Science and Robotics.
   I may never be an astronaut, but I could                                     Page 27
   develop equipment that gets used in space.
26 |                                                                                        | 27
The Parents’ Guide to University   2021 - 2022                                              The Parents’ Guide to University   2021 - 2022

Types of courses
Most university courses offer a three-           Foundation years                           Foundation degrees                               apprenticeship to gain a bachelors (or
year undergraduate programme,                    This is a one-year study period that can   Not to be confused with foundation               masters) qualification by both working
but some offer “sandwich” courses                count as the first year towards a degree   years, foundation degrees last two               and studying at university part time.
which last four years, one of which              or as a standalone course. Foundation      years and offer an alternative if a pupil
is spent in the workplace (which                 years are designed to increase             hasn’t reached the grade for a degree            Higher National Certificates
could be overseas). There’s also the             knowledge in specialised subjects          course, doesn’t want to commit to                (HNCs) or Diploma (HNDs)
opportunity to obtain certificates of            required for a degree course and are       three or more years at university, or            The Certificate takes one year and is
education, diplomas, higher national             usually taken if students didn’t meet      prefers more vocational study. They              equivalent to a first year degree course,
diplomas and foundation degrees.                 the entry requirements of the university   can be “topped up” with a final year to          whilst the diploma takes two years and
                                                 either because of poor grades or           equate to a bachelors degree.                    is equivalent to the first two years of a
Bachelors                                        different subject combinations.                                                             degree course. Both can be topped up
Usually three or four years long, these
                                                                                            Degree of bachelor level                         to a full degree by extending the course
can be single subject, dual subject (dual
                                                 Diploma in Foundation Studies              apprenticeship                                   or joining a degree course at a later
or joint honours) or several subjects            (art and design)                           This is a comparatively new university           stage. The benefit here is to be able to
(combined honours). Typically there’s            A route towards art and design courses     offering, allowing students taking an            study for a degree in stages.
a quantity that everyone studies – the           allowing specialisation in a student’s
core – and then options to specialise by         specific area of art or design.
taking different modules. Some bachelors
offer sandwich courses, which means an
additional year in a work placement as                                                        FINDING THE RIGHT COURSE FOR THEM
part of the degree. In some cases there’s                                                     IS A TOP PRIORITY FOR YOUR CHILD
the option to convert the bachelors to
masters by studying for an additional year.

Bachelor of Arts or Science?
The major difference between a
Bachelor of Arts (BA) and a Bachelors
of Science degree (BS or BSc) lies in
the subject chosen for study (i.e. more
science focused or arts focused). For
some subjects, this classification may
differ between universities, such as
economics and psychology. In this case,
a BSc in economics or psychology is
normally more suitable for students
with an aptitude for maths and scientific
study compared to their BA equivalents.

28 |                                                                                                        | 29
The Parents’ Guide to University 2021 - 2022                                                   The Parents’ Guide to University   2021 - 2022

Researching the right course                                                                   CHOOSING THE RIGHT
                                                                                               COURSE IS MORE IMPORTANT
                                                                                               THAN THE UNIVERSITY TYPE
With over 30,000 courses available the         are already set on a certain career path,
right course is out there – it just might      their choice of degree may be obvious,
be tricky to find it! There is plenty of       which can be helpful. If not, some thought
information about university courses           and reflection on things they enjoy that
available so it’s worth researching            might apply to the workplace can give
diligently before making choices,              direction so some research on jobs might
rather than students relying on “my            help streamline options by providing
                                               guidance on routes into industry.
teacher recommends it”, “my parents
took it”, or “I like the university”.
                                               Too much choice?
When to step back                              If they are struggling with a starting point,
                                               investigating what’s of interest to them is
This research is something that your
                                               a good place to start. You think they spend
child should undertake – not you on
                                               too much time playing video games?
their behalf. Avoid the temptation to
                                               How about a BA in Computer Games
use this as an opportunity to investigate
                                               Design – it can be a lucrative business
options you would have liked to take
                                               post-graduation. Not academic but loves
given the chance. It may be tough with
                                               sports? BA in Sports Management. A
the benefit of hindsight and experience,
                                               passion for understanding how things
but try not to forget it’s your child’s life
                                               work? How about MEng(Hons) in Product
and their choices, not yours.
                                               Design Engineering? Always reading crime
                                               thrillers? Perhaps they’d enjoy a BA in
Finding focus                                  Criminology.
Thinking of favourite subject choices is
a good way to narrow focus, but don’t          Predicted grades
forget many of the subjects offered at
                                               Your child should research courses with
degree level aren’t covered in sixth form
                                               entry requirements that are closely
options, so don’t let your child restrict
                                               aligned to their predicted grades,
themselves to only considering topics
                                               allowing for some aspirational and safe
they’ve already studied. Of course, if they
                                               choices either side.

Useful link

   Uni Guide
 course search

30 |                                                                                                     | 31
The Parents’ Guide to University 2021 - 2022                                                    The Parents’ Guide to University   2021 - 2022

Suggested starting points
There is plenty of information about             studies and getting involved is likely to
university courses available, and whilst         do better on a course that has plenty of
it's up to your child to do the research,        experiential learning rather than one              Rory’s story:
as parents you can help guide them by            that is largely based around lectures and
checking that the courses they shortlist         seminars. Here are some suggestions for            By the time I began Year 13, I
fit their personality. For example, a child      things to consider when deciding whether           had narrowed my degree to two
that likes to be active and enjoys practical     a course meets your child's needs:                 possible choices - an art related
                                                                                                    course or biology. Whenever I
                                                                                                    explain this to people, they are
                                                                                                    always surprised. I enjoyed both,
                                               Do they enjoy being in the classroom?                I was on track for As and I had no
         Is your child academic                                                                     idea about a potential career path.
                                               Do they enjoy learning in a studio or outside?
         or practical?
                                               Do they enjoy writing essays and                     Having attended a fairly academic
                                               researching topics or prefer to make and             school, there was a certain
                                               produce things?
                                                                                                    pressure to choose biology.
                                                                                                    However, it was the comments of
                                               Is there a particular part of a school subject       one friend that made me finally
                                               they have enjoyed?                                   choose a degree in illustrations.
         Which school                                                                               He said I should choose an art
                                               Do they have a natural flair for a subject?
         subjects do they                                                                           based degree as I was always
         enjoy?                                If they enjoy more than one subject, are             seen doodling in my sketch book.
                                               there any common themes?                             His comments made me realise
                                                                                                    what I actually had a passion
                                                                                                    for - outside of the classroom and
                                               Is your child particularly passionate about          during my spare time.
                                               any music, sport or art related activities?

         What are your                         Think about your child’s personality traits          I have never regretted this
         child’s hobbies?                                                                           decision. Dedicating three years
                                               Try to think outside the box - do they               to a subject I enjoyed beyond
                                               have a particular interest in current                study led to some of the best
                                               affairs? Gaming? Helping others?
                                                                                                    years of my life. I am now working
                                                                                                    for a large marketing company
                                                                                                    creating online illustrations for a
         Has your child                        Try to think of subjects that will help
                                               them pursue this career without
                                                                                                    range of clients - a career choice
         expressed interest in                                                                      I never considered when I was at
                                               narrowing their options too much if
         a particular career?                  they change their mind later                         school.

32 |                                                                                                      | 33
                                                                                                                                        | 33
The Parents’ Guide to University   2021 - 2022                                                The Parents’ Guide to University   2021 - 2022

League Tables                                                                                  SUBJECT- SPECIFIC LEAGUE
                                                                                               TABLES ARE MORE RELEVANT
                                                                                               THAN NATIONAL LEAGUE TABLES
National league tables                           Subject specific league tables
National league tables are published             It’s worth reviewing subject league
annually by the Complete University              tables to see how the chosen university
Guide, The Guardian and The Times /              delivers in the specific subject areas of
Sunday Times. They cover a range of              interest. This is different from national
factors including student satisfaction,          league tables, which shows how a
entry standards, facilities and academic         university performs overall. It’s possible
services amongst others and focus                that a university may rank low on
on full-time student experience (not             overall league tables, but be very strong
part-time).                                      and well-respected in a particular area
                                                 of study (and vice versa). Also, check for
Well established universities have had a         professional accreditation by approved
long time to hone their subject offerings        membership bodies if seeking out a
and know how to perform well in league           professional degree – this is a good
tables. By contrast, new universities do         indicator of whether the course is
not have this advantage but often excel          highly regarded within industry and
by offering new, innovative subjects             whether or not it’s equally valued both
which can prove more relevant to today’s         within the UK and internationally.
working environment. A variance of
20-30 places could indicate as little as         The Teaching Excellence and
a couple of points difference, so bear           Student Outcomes Framework
this in mind when considering where              (TEF)
a university is ranked. It’s also worth          To assess the quality of teaching within
noting that universities that rank highly in     a university, consider the TEF rating
national tables don’t always rank well in        as decided by an independent expert
international tables as the criteria applied     panel including students, academics
are different. If you spot a big difference,     and employer representatives. Ratings
it’s worth visiting the university website       awarded are gold, silver or bronze.
directly, as they sometimes offer                Participation is voluntary, so not all
explanations - or you could call them.           universities will have TEF ratings.

Useful links

     The                                            The Times
                           The Complete
   Guardian                                           Good                   The TEF
  University                Guide 2021
                                                    University               Ratings
  Guide 2021                                        Guide 2020

34 |                                                                                                   
The Parents’ Guide to University 2021 - 2022                                                      The Parents’ Guide to University   2021 - 2022

University entry requirements
Different universities have different          Level (or minimum number of UCAS                   UCAS tariff                                      A Level UCAS points
entry requirements, so it’s important          points) but they also have their own               In order to compare students as
to check the university’s website              admissions tests / examinations to help            equitably as possible, UCAS offers a
for details. Entry requirements are            them assess candidates like for like.                                                                      Grade                UCAS points
                                                                                                  tariff (previously known as the “points
set out by the university to assess            Interviews may also form a critical part           system”) whereby each sixth form
whether your child is suitable for a           of the application process, but not for all        qualification is awarded a certain                          A*                   56
particular course.                             universities. If applying for performing           number of points according to a
                                               arts, auditions will also be likely to                                                                         A                    48
                                                                                                  combination of the time spent studying
Universities set their own                     feature and other art subjects may                 it and the grade achieved. This tariff                      B                    40
standards                                      require the development of a portfolio.            is recognised nationally across the UK                      C                    32
Subject combinations, types of                                                                    and universities use it to gauge the                        D                    24
                                               GCSEs could matter                                 standard of achievement for sixth form
qualification and subject grades
                                               Some universities may also specify                 students. It enables them to make                            E                   16
needed for entry not only vary from
university to university, but may also         certain GCSE results. With AS Levels no            comparisons between students who                            U                    0
differ within the same university for          longer contributing to your child’s final          have studied different types of sixth
different degrees. As a rule, universities     A Level grade, universities are                    form courses – i.e. National Highers,
are not flexible about their entry             increasingly looking at GCSE                       BTEC, A Levels etc.
requirements (i.e. if they set minimum         performance as a formal indicator of                                                                T Level UCAS points
grades, your child will have to reach          your child’s academic ability.                     Depending on the perceived course
those grades); however, there are                                                                 difficulty and the type of university,
sometimes exceptions to rules (if your         It’s worth checking                                the minimum entry requirements will                     Grade                UCAS points
child can offer something special              Always check with the university                   vary both from university to university
or if many students have failed to             (by ringing the admissions tutor) if               and from course to course within the                Distinction*                168
meet the entry requirements that               your child’s particular qualification              same university. Not all post sixth form
                                                                                                  establishments cite a UCAS tariff, they             Distinction                 144
year) so it’s always worth speaking to         is not listed on their website. Some
admissions to see where they might             universities are willing to be flexible for        might specify grade requirements (i.e.                   Merit                  120
flex requirements.                             the right candidate.                               x3 A Levels, minimum ABB), but it is                      Pass
                                                                                                  the same thing. However, if they do               (C or above on the core)
Not all sixth form qualifications are                                                             cite a UCAS tariff (i.e. minimum 120                      Pass                   72
considered equal by some universities.                                                            points), check out the tariff tables using          (D or E on the core)

For example, some do not accept BTEC                                                              the UCAS calculator to work out what
and others consider certain A Levels           Useful link                                        qualification and grades will be needed
                                                                   I’m in
weightier than others.                                             and I teractive
                                                                                                  to gain university entry.
                                                                        ’ll tak      !C
                                                                               e you lick me
                                                    Tariff                  webs      to th
Customised admissions tests                                                      ite        eir
Some universities not only require                calculator
a specified qualification grade at A

36 |                                                                                                                | 37
The Parents’ Guide to University   2021 - 2022                                              The Parents’ Guide to University   2021 - 2022

University websites
University websites may look                     Course content                             Teaching and learning                            Entry requirements
different when comparing side                    Degree courses vary between universities   Not all students learn in the same               Each university sets its own entry
by side, but the information they                and each degree may provide a very         way so it is important to research how           requirements so make sure your child is
relay is similar and will definitely             different experience for your child.       each degree is delivered and assessed.           accessing courses based on their ability
cover course content, information                Thoroughly research the modules that       If your child is particularly anxious            and potential. Entry requirements
about the teaching style and entry               each degree provides by comparing core     when it comes to examinations, then              provide a good indication of the
requirements.                                    modules (mandatory modules of study)       choosing a degree which is mainly                difficulty of each degree course and so
                                                 and optional modules between each          assessed through coursework or                   it is important to be realistic in what
It’s important to be aware that degree           university degree.                         presentations may increase your child’s          your child can access when moving into
courses vary significantly between                                                          chances of success.                              higher education.
universities:- even when the degree title        Furthermore, some universities may
is the same! So make sure your child             provide additional options, such as        Moreover, think carefully about your             Remember, your child can only apply to
pays close attention to understanding            a the possibility or studying abroad       child’s learning needs. Will they thrive         a maximum of five universities through
the differences in course modules,               (usually in a partner university) or a     in small classroom based environments            UCAS, so carefully note all the entry
assessment methods, teaching styles              year long work placement. These may        (seminars), lectures or more practical           requirements for each university before
and entry requirements between                   be important considerations in giving      learning environments?                           applying to check whether your child is
universities.                                    your child a particular advantage when                                                      likely to meet these.
                                                 entering their chosen career.
These differences could be deciding
factors in which course (and university)
is your child’s preferred option. For
example, if there are two universities of
similar rankings and style that they like            Things to consider:                         Things to consider:                             Things to consider:
almost equally, where one offers a                   • What are the core modules                 • Does teaching mainly                          • What are the minimum entry
course with a teaching style better suited               that must be studied in years             consist of large lectures or                    requirements?
to their personal learning preferences,                  1, 2 and 3?                               seminars?                                     • Does the course require a
or course content more closely matching              •   Which optional modules                  • Is the course largely exam                      grade in a particular subject?
their areas of interest - perhaps they are               are on offer?                             based or coursework based?                    • Will the course accept BTECs
really keen to have overseas experience -            •   Is there an option to study             • What are the facilities like?                   or alternative qualifications to
this would be a significant contributor to               abroad?                                 • Is a dissertation in year 3                     A Level?
their final decision.                                •   Is there an option to spend               required?                                     • Do they require a minimum
                                                         one year in industry?                   • For practical subjects such                     Level of Maths or English?
                                                     •   Is there an option to                     as Media Studies, how much                    • Does the course require a
                                                         combine this subject with                 of the course is theoretical                    portfolio or an interview prior
                                                         another subject?                          and how much is practical?                      to making an offer?

38 |                                                                                                        | 39
The Parents’ Guide to University 2021 - 2022                                              The Parents’ Guide to University   2021 - 2022

                                                                                           LOAN APPLICATIONS MUST BE

Understanding university fees
                                                                                           MADE AT LEAST EIGHT WEEKS
                                                                                           BEFORE THE COURSE BEGINS

With university fees at almost                 Timing
£10,000 per year plus living costs             Applications for student finance can
on top, the prospect of committing             be made prior to receiving results
to three or four years studying can            and confirming a university offer. So,
seem as if the financial burden                once application to UCAS has been
outweighs the benefits. But                    completed, your child can make a
graduates earn more than school                provisional application for student
leavers and payback terms are linked           finance whilst waiting on results.
to earnings (as explained later) so it         Loan applications must be made at
can be a worthwhile investment.                least eight weeks before the course
                                               commences, otherwise payment may
Loan applications                              be delayed: don’t forget this covers
                                               both types of loan - tuition fees and
Loan applications are made to the
                                               maintenance loans. We recommend
country of home residence, not the
                                               encouraging your child to apply early to
destination university through Student
                                               ensure loans are processed on time.
Finance. So, if your child lives in
Scotland and is going to university
in England, applications are made
                                               Tuition fees
to Scotland. Student Finance is the            The tuition fees (up to £9,250 per
organisation responsible for providing         annum) are paid via Student Finance
Tuition Fee Loans and Maintenance              direct to the university (once the place
Loans to students at university.               has been accepted) and parental
Applications must be made separately.          earnings do not impact this.

                                               Maintenance loans
   Key terms:                                  The maintenance loan is influenced
                                               by parental earnings. Simply put,
   Tuition fee loan: the loan                  the higher the family income, the
   to cover the annual cost of the             less money granted:- parents will
   university degree                           be expected to cover any shortfall.
                                               However, assessment is made on
   Maintenance loan: the loan                  “residual” income – i.e. the money left
   to cover cost of living such as             over after debts and expenses have
   accommodation, food, course                 been paid (so not pre-tax earnings or
   materials.                                  even net income). This money is paid
                                               termly directly to the student, so make
                                               sure they know how to budget.
                                                                                          Page 41
                                                                                                                                           | 41
40 |                                                                                                2020-2021© | 41
The Parents’ Guide to University 2021 - 2022                                                     The Parents’ Guide to University   2021 - 2022

A different type of loan
Divorced / separated Parents                   Other financing options
Where parents are separated or                 It’s worth reviewing scholarships,                    Repayment terms are:
divorced, income is assessed on the            grants and bursaries to see whether
parent with whom the child resides             you child might qualify for additional                1. No payments are made until the            3. Repayments are docked directly
and (if applicable) their current partner      income, particularly if they are studying                student is earning £25,000 in the            at source and they cease if salary
(irrespective of whether or not that           for specialist degrees such as medical,                  April after graduation;                      drops below the threshold;
partner is responsible for the child).         social work or teaching.
Income for the other biological parent                                                               2. Once they qualify for payment,            4. Interest rates apply from when
is not assessed.                               Prepayments                                              they repay only 9% on any                    the loan is given (i.e. start of the
                                                                                                        amount earned over the                       degree);
                                               Be careful with making pre-payments.
Repayments                                     Many students never repay the full
                                                                                                        threshold (so if they earned
                                                                                                        £25,100 in April after graduating,        5. Any outstanding debt is wiped
Repayments are collected via Student           amount of their loans before the                                                                      clear after 30 years.
                                                                                                        they would pay £9 a month);
Loans Company, who work alongside              amount is wiped clear. Trying to save
HMRC to collect repayments in line with        on interest fees can prove a false
earnings after the degree is complete.         economy. However, if they are likely
                                               to have continued employment at a
Repayment terms are very generous, so          high salary, then it might be worth
avoid thinking that student loans are          making a prepayment. There are online
like conventional bank loans or even           calculators to help work this out.
a mortgage. Importantly, no money
is taken until earnings reach a certain        Be aware!
threshold, they are paused if earnings         Even with the maximum maintenance
drop below that threshold (maternity           allowance, it may be necessary to
or redundancy), they are not evaluated         supplement living costs, either through
on partner earnings and they are wiped         you contributing directly or your child
clean after 30 years.                          getting work whilst studying:- or a
                                               combination of both!

Useful links                                                      I’m in
                                                                  and I teractive
                                                                       ’ll tak      !C
                                                                              e you lick me
                                                                           webs      to th
                          The Student              Student                      ite        eir
    GOV. UK
                            Loans                  Finance
 Student loans
                           Company                Calculator

42 |                                                                                                             | 43
The Parents’ Guide to University 2021 - 2022                                                The Parents’ Guide to University   2021 - 2022

                                                                                             THE DISABLED STUDENTS’
Learning difficulties                                                                        ALLOWANCE IS ASSESSED BY
                                                                                             INDIVIDUAL NEED
and entitlements
For students with a learning need,             necessary to undergo a “study needs
mental health issue or disability,             assessment” at an approved DSA centre
there’s the option to apply for                (they will send you a link identifying
dedicated funding to help with                 local assessors). However, if a student is
extra costs associated with their              applying for both financial support and
condition. It’s called Disabled                DSAs, they must complete their student
Students’ Allowances (DSAs).                   loan application through Student
                                               Finance England first (as explained in
This is in addition to student finance         Understanding Fees section) else they
and there is no need to repay the              will not be able to make the online
money awarded. It may cover specialist         application.
equipment (i.e. a computer, voice
recognition software, dictaphone),             Don’t forget , if your child has an
non-medical helpers (i.e. proof reader,        education and healthcare plan
note taker, sign interpreter), extra           (“EHCP”) this will lapse on higher
travel (i.e. the cost of taxis if you child    education, but support will be available
can’t take public transport) and / or          through the DSA.
accommodation contribution (i.e. if
the bathroom needs to be adapted to            Whilst notification of eligibility can
meet your child’s needs). It is applied        take place relatively quickly, it can take
to costs incurred directly because of          a long time to process and complete
undertaking the course (rather than            all stages of the application (up to
costs that would be accumulated                fourteen weeks), so do apply early.
anyway) and costs incurred over and            To qualify for DSAs, a student must
above that of those made by any                be an undergraduate and studying
student without a similar disadvantage.        for at least one year (this can be
                                               part time, depending on the “course
The allowance is assessed not by               intensity”) and have written evidence
household income but individual needs          from a qualified specialist about their
and, upon eligible application, it will be     condition.

44 |                                                                                                  | 45
                                                                                                                                    | 45
The Parents’ Guide to University 2021 - 2022                                                The Parents’ Guide to University   2021 - 2022

The maximum allowances can be found                Conditions that might qualify for DSA
online, however, very few students are             include:
entitled to the full benefit and most
                                                                                                Antoine’s story:
                                                    • social, emotional and mental health
receive much less. Money is usually                                                             At school, I was always given
                                                      difficulties (such as ADD, ADHD)
paid to the organisation providing the                                                          the help and support I needed
service although in some cases it may               • sensory and / or physical needs           to do well. I was given a scribe,
be paid to the student’s bank account.                (such as visual impairment or             extra time and learning support
Refunds and reimbursements will not                   equipment to support a physical           to help me with my dyslexia. I
be given for any costs incurred prior                 difficulty)                               was surprised to discover that
to the appropriate application and                  • cognition and learning difficulties       this type of help also extended
approval systems. If awarded the cost                 (such as dyslexia or dyspraxia)           to higher education.
of a new computer, it will be necessary             • communication and interaction
to contribute £200 towards this.                                                                Applying for DSA enabled me
                                                      needs (such as difficulties with
                                                                                                to purchase a range of learning
                                                      speech / language, Asperger’s
It’s not necessary to inform the college                                                        software that converted my
                                                      Syndrome, autisim)
or university if your child receives DSAs;                                                      speech into text. This helped
however, it might be helpful for them to            • some long-term health conditions          me to write essays quicker than
know to ensure your child gets all the                (such as HIV, cancer, chronic heart       I usually would under normal
support available. In addition, colleges              disease).                                 conditions. The university itself
and universities will have a disability                                                         also supported me - so I am
adviser who will be able to give you                                                            glad I told them. I thought I
help and advice about your child’s                     Changing circumstances                   would be the only one going
entitlements.                                          Keep Student Finance England             to university with a learning
                                                       updated about any changes in their       difficulty, but that was definitely
                                                       condition because it may mean an         not the case.
                                                       entitlement to more allowance.

Useful links
                                               I’m in
                                               and I teractive
                                                    ’ll tak      !C
                          The Student                      e you lick me
    GOV. UK                                             webs      to th
                            Loans                            ite        eir
 Student loans

                                                                                                                                    | 47
46 |                                                                                                  | 47
The Parents’ Guide to University 2021 - 2022                                               The Parents’ Guide to University   2021 - 2022

Summary                                                                                    Advice from parents

   Choosing the right course at the            3. Be guided by league tables, but don’t
   right university takes research.               obsess over them;                                                                 		            Encourage your child to find
                                                                                                                                    part-time work over the holidays as this
   1. Understand how courses differ from       4. Check university entry requirements                                               will help cover living expenses during
      one another to steer the decision           carefully;                                                                        term-time. We couldn’t cover 100% of
      making process;                                                                                                               Alfie’s living expenses, but the money he
                                               5. Investigate financing options for both                                            earnt as a support assistant in a summer
   2. How long does your child want to            tuition fees and maintenance loans                                                camp helped make up the difference.
      commit to further education (at this        and apply with plenty of time.

      stage) and do they want to go abroad?

                                                                                                                                    		           Don’t worry if your child
                                                                                                                                    doesn’t have a career in mind - it’s OK not
                                                                                                                                    to know at this point. Philippa has always
                                                                                                                                    loved reading and chose to study English
                                                                                                                                    Literature; she’s really enjoying her time
                                                                                                                                    at university.

                                                                                                                                  “ 		          Don’t let the most famous
                                                                                                                                    university names drive your child’s
                                                                                                                                    decision. After looking into it, Leon found
                                                                                                                                    the best media studies course to suit him
                                                                                                                                    was at Southampton University, which
                                                                                                                                    has excellent industry links.

48 |                                                                                                       | 49
The Parents’ Guide to University 2021 - 2022

The Parents’ Guide to
Exam Revision
We want our children to do well in        ✓✓ Simple steps to create a helpful
their exams and it’s not all down to         study space
what happens at school or college,        ✓✓ Ways to help them revise – you
homelife plays a crucial role.               can’t revise for them, but you can
                                             help. We’ve provided different
Find out what you can do at home             options to make facts easier to
to give your child the best chance           remember
of success, from setting up the right
routines to helping them cope with        ✓✓ How to build resilience and
exam nerves. The Parents’ Guide to           manage stress to form lifelong
Study and Exam Revision (sixth form)         good habits and protect their
is full of practical advice that’s easy      mental health
to action:                                ✓✓ How to support them during exam
 ✓✓ Keeping them healthy – covering          time
    diet, caffeine, sleep and screen time ✓✓ How to help them with exam
 ✓✓ Providing the right homelife – why       nerves
    setting a routine is vital

                                                                                        m e to
                                                                                      k       !
                                                                                  Clic y now

                                                                                                  Buy now
50 |
The Parents’ Guide to University   2021 - 2022                                 The Parents’ Guide to University   2021 - 2022

                                                                               The UCAS process
                                                                                                                                Understanding UCAS
                                                                                                                                What is UCAS and what are the main
                                                                                                                                stages of the application process?

                                                                                                                                Tracking the application
                                                                                                                                What happens once my child applies
                                                                                                                                to their chosen universities?

                                                                                                                                UCAS key dates
                                                                                                                                A timeline of the most important

                                                                                                                                deadlines and key dates.

   My school provided a lot of help about how                                                                                   Summary
   to fill in the UCAS application, but I still
   needed to do some research myself.                                           Page 53

52 |                                                                                         | 53
You can also read