Wilson's School

Higher Education

From the Higher Education Evening 2016:
Applying to University
Choosing a course and university
Personal Statement
Student finance (See also this page)
Applying to Oxbridge (2016)

Applying for Medicine (2016)
Engineering Apprenticeships: Airbus

 Informed Choices by the Russell Group of Universities
A Russell Group guide to making decisions about post-16 education

An online questionnaire linking a student’s interests to degree course subject areas which then suggests specific degree courses the student could be suited to

Official information on all undergraduate courses. Has advice centre, course/subject search, links to universities and colleges, entry profiles, access course information, facts and figures. New section allows you to view the progress of your application.

Apply is an application system that allows you to apply online for full-time undergraduate courses at universities and colleges in the UK

The University of Cambridge

The University of Oxford

QAA reviews and reports on all universities to make sure they maintain quality and academic standards
HE Funding 
You don’t need to be anxious about your student finances, but you do need to spend time planning them and putting them in place. Be realistic and as thorough as you can and avoid making assumptions about either what your finances will cover and what sources of finance are available.

There are many places to get information about student finance. Some of these resources have been gathered together on this page and on the links and downloads page.

1. Your student finances need to be planned.

Your finances will not just happen – you need to know what your cost of living will be and where the money to live off will come from. You also need to have those conversations with your parents about what help, if any, they are able to provide.
This planning must include:
  • Your accommodation costs – in addition to rent you might have to pay utilities, TV Licence, broadband, etc.
  • Essential course costs in addition to fees – for example, books, equipment, subscriptions, field trips, etc.
  • Food – and don’t think you can live just on baked beans and economy horse burgers.
  • Household and personal expenses – even things you’ve previously taken for granted cost money like washing your clothes and bedding – toothpaste, washing-up liquid, hangover cures, etc.
  • Clothing.
  • Travel expenses – both to and from uni as well as daily expenses.
  • Fun – there is fun to be had for free but it often costs money.
  • And more – gifts, mobile phone bills, gym membership…

You also need to allow for unforeseen expenses that (by their very nature of being unforeseen) cannot be planned for. What if your laptop dies or if you drop your iPhone down the loo? What if you need to pay a fine for not having a TV Licence? Your budget needs to include a contingency.

2. Simply put, there are two elements to your student finance: the course fees and your living expenses.

Your course fees are paid directly by the Student Loans Company (SLC) to your university in three instalments each year (25% each term for terms 1 and 2 and 50% in term 3). You won’t need to be involved in this process directly but you need to understand that this is your debt.

The more complicated and, in many ways, the more important element is the maintenance loan and the other elements that will make up your day to day living finances. It is this part of your student finances that will take research, planning and work to put into place.

Once in place, it is also this part of your finances that then need to be managed on a daily basis.

3. Your maintenance loan will NOT cover your living costs – in addition to the Student Loans Company there are several other sources for finances.

Your cost of living will vary dependent upon all of the factors listed above (accommodation costs, books, food, etc).
  • Your maintenance loan will cover much or most of your living expenses and the following options, in addition to the maintenance loan, need to be carefully considered:
  • A maintenance grant (means tested).
  • Any contribution your parents or relative can make.
  • Bursaries or scholarships.
  • A part-time job.

4. Variables affect how much you can borrow.

All students from England reading their first degree are eligible for a maintenance loan from SLC but the amount you can borrow is means tested (subject to how much your parents earn) and is dependent upon whether or not you continue to live at home or study in London.

In addition to the loans from SLC, some students are eligible for a maintenance grant as mentioned above. Grants, unlike loans, are not repaid.

5. You really need to budget.

Just as failing to plan you finances would be a huge mistake, so would failing to budget. The point of budgeting is to make sure you can live within your means. Your parents will nag you about creating a budget but that is not the same thing as knowing how to do it.

Your budget will have two main elements: 1. the money you have available to spend (money in), and, 2. the money you need to spend in order to live (money out). This is your own little cashflow scenario where these two elements need to balance. In addition to knowing what money is coming in and what is going out you need to know WHEN the money is coming in and going out. If you have £0 today and know that you are due an instalment of £1000 tomorrow – you’ll still be drooling outside in the cold while your friends tuck into their Big Macs.

Be realistic about how much you’ll need to live off and about whether the demands of your studies will allow you to work part-time in employment. Also be realistic about whether you will find work (lots of university towns are small and have large student populations – there might not be enough jobs to go round).

6. Not all debt is the same.

One of the big concerns that many have about the student loans system is that it might be desensitising young people to debt.

The debt accrued through the student loan system is not like any other debt you will have. The important point here is, in becoming indebted to the SLC, not to make the mistake of thinking that any other debt lender operates on the same terms.
Student debt through SLC does not have to be paid back unless you are earning a certain amount of money (currently £21,000), only has to be paid back relative to the amount you earn, is paid back over a very long period of time and has a very low rate of interest (currently 3% above the rate of inflation RPI). In addition, when you do start paying it back it is deducted at source (like income tax) and the money owing is not part of your credit rating.

Other debts (including credit cards and bank overdrafts or loans) can involve very steep interest rates and have to be paid back regardless of whether you can afford to pay them back or not. Some payday loan companies have even targeted students and these really have to be avoided. Don’t ever make the mistake of thinking that the nice man in the shiny suit offering you the solution to your financial woes really does care about you and have your best interests at heart. He doesn’t. He cares about the fat interest you will end up paying him.
Some guides are included here and can be downloaded.
How and when to apply 2013-14
A Guide to Financial Support for New Full-Time Students 2013-14
Higher Education Student Finance – How You Are Assessed and Paid 2013-14

The National Union of Students

The National Union of Students website has information including how to avoid problems (such as phishing scams).
Money Saving Expert, Martin Lewis explains the key issues – this is worth 6 minutes and 59 seconds of your life…