UCAS's blog

The UCAS blog provides you with information about applying to uni.

Changes to healthcare course funding

The Government recently held a consultation looking into the way some undergraduate pre-registration healthcare courses are funded, specifically for students who are ordinarily resident in England. If you’re ordinarily resident in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, or the Channel Islands, you’ll need to speak to your university to find out the funding arrangements in your area. The information below gives an overview of the changes taking place.

Following the consultation, it was announced that from 1 August 2017, students starting the courses listed below will need to apply to the Student Loans Company (Student Finance England provisions) for their tuition and maintenance loans:

  • Nursing (adult, child, mental health, learning disability, joint nursing/social work)
  • Midwifery
  • Dietetics
  • Occupational therapy
  • Operating department practitioner
  • Orthoptics
  • Orthotics and prosthetics
  • Physiotherapy
  • Podiatry/chiropody
  • Radiography (diagnostic and therapeutic)
  • Speech and language therapy

‘The funding reforms are designed to deliver a number of benefits towards securing the future healthcare workforce, including:

  • enabling up to 10,000 additional places on healthcare programmes at universities
  • offering typically 25% more financial support while studying
  • enhancing access to undergraduate study for those from disadvantaged backgrounds

For example, a single student studying on a three year programme would receive approximately £2,000 more funding support per year on a student loan compared to an NHS bursary.’
(Source: gov.uk)

If you’re starting your course this year, you may also be eligible for additional funding through a new scheme called the Learning Support Fund (LSF). This new scheme is made up of three elements:

  1. Child Dependants Allowance – this provides eligible students with a set amount of £1,000 each year.
  2. Travel and Dual Accommodation Expenses – similar to the current Practice Placement Expenses you may hear people talking about. Under this element, you can claim for any travel and accommodation expenses incurred over and above your usual daily travel to university costs when you’re on placement. A change for this element is that new students attending London-based universities can also now claim this funding support.
  3. Exceptional Support Fund – this enables eligible students in exceptional financial hardship to claim an amount up to £3,000 per year.

If you wish to apply for one or more of the LSF elements, you will need to be:

  • ordinarily resident in England
  • studying on an eligible programme at a university in England
  • in receipt of, or eligible for, a student loan under the Student Finance England provisions
  • actively involved in training, whether academic or practice

However, if you are on one of the following courses, there’s what is known as ‘transitional arrangements’ for you:

  • Postgraduate pre-registration healthcare programmes
  • Dental hygiene/dental therapy programmes
  • Certain part-time programmes

If you’re on one of these courses, you may be able to apply for funding support from the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) for the 2017/18 academic year. The NHSBSA is working with colleagues at the Department of Health to clarify how these courses will be funded from 2018 and beyond. Find out more about these arrangements.

If you started your course before 1 August 2017 and have maintained continual attendance at teaching and placement sessions, the new funding scheme does not apply to you. In this case, you can reapply for your NHS bursary each year as normal through your Bursary Online Support System (BOSS) account. However, if you started your studies before 1 August 2017 but have withdrawn for a period of time, you will need to contact your university for clarification of funding arrangements on your return.

You can find full details about the changes, eligibility information, and all the latest updates on the changes as they happen on the NHSBSA website. You can also get the latest on the funding changes by following @NHSBSA_Students or liking facebook.com/nhsstudentbursaries. 

Kerry Hemsworth

Head of Service – Operational Readiness

NHS Business Services Authority, Student Services

Source: NHS Business Services Authority


How to handle the stresses of the university lifestyle

Your time at university can be an especially challenging period of your life. Adapting to a new routine and a different environment isn’t always easy. Moving away from home is exciting because it gives you a level of independence, but this also means taking on responsibilities you might not have considered before – such as managing your own time, living with a group of other people, budgeting, and cooking for yourself.

With all this in mind, it’s not surprising that a recent survey of 2,460 students nationwide (conducted by The Student Housing Company) found that more than 96% of students experience stress throughout their studies.

Learning how to best handle stressful moments when you’re at university is really important, to ensure you look after your physical and mental wellbeing.

Organising your study time

The structure of university learning is very different to that of school and college. There are usually far fewer contact hours, which means you need to put in your own study time outside of the lecture halls. Depending on your course, you may have daily lectures and seminars, or only a handful. You’ll be completely responsible for your own study schedule – from managing your timetable and preparing for each lecture, to completing the necessary work to meet each assignment deadline.

It’s a wise idea to get organised and create your own study routine from the offset. Plotting your lecture timetable and all your assignment deadlines into a calendar will help you decide how to structure each day. It’s worth setting your own deadlines a few days before the assignments are due, to avoid the stress of completing work last minute. If you miss a lecture, contact your lecturer to see if you can get any information about what you missed, or ask one of your course mates if you could share their insight or notes.

Budgeting and paying bills

The thought of being in charge of your finances can be rather daunting. Paying rent, managing bills, and budgeting for your groceries and other essentials – all with the money from your student loan – can seem like an impossible task, and it’s no wonder that many students worry about money. Making your money stretch far enough each month requires you to be thrifty and wise when it comes to spending.

There are many easy ways that you can relieve the pressure of handling your finances, to ensure money doesn’t become a preoccupation. Just a few things that can help you save include:

making the most of discount codes, loyalty schemes, and coupons (including getting an NUS card and a 16-25 railcard)
cooking meals from fresh, rather than buying takeaways or ready meals
sharing kitchen essentials, such as milk and condiments, with your housemates
getting books from your university’s library where possible, instead of buying your own copy of everything on the reading list

Coping with homesickness

Feeling homesick can happen at any time while you’re at university. Whether this is your first time living away from home or not, it’s normal to miss your family and friends. Adjusting to an unfamiliar environment in communal living, settling into a different city, and struggling to make new friends can be an isolating experience, so it’s only natural to miss the comforts of home.

You can ease feelings of anxiety and loneliness (which in turn can trigger homesickness) in a number of ways. When you first move to university, you might feel nervous about making friends, but getting to know your housemates and course mates is a great place to start. Building friendships and socialising with the people you live with, or those on your course, can act as a good distraction if you are feeling low.

Striking up a conversation with your housemates can be as simple as popping on the kettle to share a cup of tea, or sitting down to watch a film one evening. With your course mates, you could suggest setting up a study group to share ideas (this can also ease some of the stress associated with assignments), or you could ask if they want to grab a drink after a lecture. If you feel comfortable, tell your friends that you’re missing home – the chances are they will be too.

Overcoming stress

University is a really exciting period that opens up many different possibilities and experiences. In order to have the most enjoyable time during your degree, it’s important to look after your wellbeing. Overcoming the various stresses associated with the sudden lifestyle change is essential. For more advice, take a look at The Student Housing Company’s mental health infographic.

Author bio: The Student Housing Company provides private student accommodation in cities across the UK, giving you a vibrant, social, and comfortable place to stay during your time at university.

Professional skills tests

If you're applying for teacher training programmes, you may have seen that some providers ask for professional skills tests as one of the entry requirements. In this blog, we’ll answer three of the most frequently asked questions our advisers receive.

1. Do I need to take a professional skills test?
To study for a teacher training programme in England you need to pass the numeracy and literacy skills tests. Some training providers may require you to complete them before your interview, or ask you to complete them by a certain date as a condition of your offer – check with your chosen training providers to confirm. If you’re applying for training programmes in Wales then you’re not required to pass the skills tests.

2. When can I book a professional skills test?
You cannot sit your professional skills test until you have completed and submitted your application. When filling in your application, you only need to include a date if you have previously sat your skills tests. If you haven’t, you should select ‘no’ and leave the date blank.
 


You can book your skills tests through learndirect, but places are on a first-come, first- served basis so it’s worth trying to book a space as soon as you have made your application. You can book a test up to three months in advance.

3. Who do I contact if I can’t find a suitable booking slot? 
The learndirect helpdesk is open Monday to Friday from 08:00 to 16:00. Call them on 0300 303 9613 or email support@sta.learndirect.com.

We’ve got lots of advice about entry requirements on ucas.com. If you have any questions about your chosen training programmes, get in touch with the training providers you're interested in - some training programmes have many more applications than places available, so their requirements might be higher.

There’s also plenty of support to help you get ready, including practice tests, on the Get Into Teaching website.


Getting a TV licence

You need to be covered by a TV licence to watch or record live TV programmes on any channel, or download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer.

This could be on any device, including a TV, desktop computer, laptop, mobile phone, tablet, games console, digital box, or DVD/VHS recorder. If you do any of the above without a valid licence, you risk prosecution and a maximum penalty of up to £1,000, plus any legal costs and/or compensation you may be ordered to pay. You will also still then have to buy a TV licence if you need one.

To find out more, go to tvlicensing.co.uk/studentinfo.

How can I buy a TV licence?

There are lots of different ways to buy a TV licence. Whether that’s through weekly cash payments, using your nearest PayPoint outlet, spreading the cost with monthly, quarterly, or yearly direct debit, credit/debit card or by post, just choose the one that suits you best.

For more information on the ways to pay, go to tvlicensing.co.uk/payinfo.

If I live in halls, won’t I already be covered by a TV licence?

Your room needs to be covered by its own licence if you're plugged in to watch or record programmes as they're being shown on TV, live on an online TV service, or if you download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer. If there are TVs in communal areas, check with your halls' manager to see if they’re covered by a halls licence.

What if I live in a shared house?

You'll probably only need one licence between you if you have a joint tenancy agreement for the whole house – this is the most common type of shared house arrangement. You might need your own licence if your accommodation is self-contained – if you have exclusive access to washing facilities, or your own entrance to the property. You will also need your own licence if you have a separate tenancy agreement for your own room. If you're not sure, check our advice for tenants and lodgers.

Won't my parents' licence cover me?

Your parents' licence will not cover you while you're away at uni, unless you only use a device that's powered solely by its own internal batteries and not connected to the mains power supply.

What if I'm not at uni for the summer?

If you're leaving your halls or rented accommodation and moving back home for the summer, there's a good chance you won't need your TV licence if there's one at home. You can see our policy and apply for a refund online.

What if I don’t need a licence?

If you don’t need a TV licence, you should let TV Licensing know so they can update their records. They won’t then send you any letters for approximately two years.
 

Apprenticeship funding facts

How are apprenticeships funded? Will you be paid? Here are the answers to all your funding questions.
  •  You’ll be paid for your working hours (generally 30 hours per week) as well as your training. This includes holiday pay, for when you need those all-important breaks
  • The national minimum wage for apprentices under the age of 19, or in their first year of an apprenticeship, is £3.50 (from April 2017). Take the time to assess your options, as on some higher apprenticeships,you can earn as much as £300 – 500 per week.
  •  Apprenticeships are funded by the government and employers. This means you’ll graduate debt-free!
  • If you’re over the age of 24, you’ll have to contribute to your own training costs. However, the government offers Advanced Learner Loans to support you.
 
There are hundreds of apprenticeships out there, so why not browse your options now?

Think you know apprenticeships?

There are a lot of myths about apprenticeships. Here, we separate fact from fiction.
  •   Fiction – Apprenticeships are not for everyone.
  •   Fact – No matter your interests or how old you are, you can find an apprenticeship to suit you. There are apprenticeships available at all levels, in a huge range of sectors.
Apprenticeships start at Level 2, so you could study an apprenticeship instead of taking A levels. Equally, if you are already in full-time employment and want to change career, you have the chance to do so with an apprenticeship.
  •   Fiction – Apprenticeships are like volunteering.
  •   Fact – You get paid on the job, as you learn.
Apprentices are paid the national minimum wage as standard – while this might not sound like a lot, it will go a long way to alleviating money worries.
  •   Fiction – Taking an apprenticeship will make me less employable than a university graduate.
  •   Fact – Many apprenticeships share content with full undergraduate courses. You can learn the same things you would with a degree, but will pick up valuable experience at the same time.
While some employers favour those with a traditional degree, this is changing. Strong performance on an apprenticeship can make you stand out from the crowd – unlike many graduates, you’ll have direct workplace experience alongside your qualification.
  •  Fiction: I will have fees to pay back.
  •  Fact: All apprenticeships are paid for by the government and employers, so you’ll graduate debt-free!
From April 2017, apprenticeships will be funded by the apprenticeship levy. If you’re concerned about getting value for money out of your studies, an apprenticeship could be for you – get all the skills and experience you need, without the debt.
 
There are hundreds of apprenticeships out there – if you are interested in taking one, start looking at your options now!

Six things you didn’t know about an apprenticeship

Thinking about an apprenticeship? Take a look at these six reasons why it’s such a great option.
 
1)    You won’t have to pay fees
Worried about the long-term cost of uni? As an apprentice, you’ll graduate debt-free! Apprenticeship fees are paid by the government and employers.
 
2)    Higher and degree apprenticeships are assessed by employers
Apprentices study for a national vocational qualification (NVQ). You’ll get tested on practical, work-related tasks, so you get to see first-hand how you’re progressing.
As NVQs are assessed by employers, they really are the ideal way to get job ready. If you already know the right career for you, an apprenticeship could give you the skills and experience you need to get there.
 
3)    There are four different types of apprenticeship:
  •  Intermediate (Level 2) – roughly equivalent to five GCSEs.
  •  Advanced (Level 3) – roughly equivalent to two A levels/Highers.
  •  Higher/technical (levels 4 to 7) – equivalent to a Higher National Diploma (HND). With a higher apprenticeship, you have the opportunity to carry on to a foundation degree.
  •  Degree/professional (levels 5 to 7) – equivalent to a bachelor’s degree. You’ll combine on-the-job learning with lectures, seminars, and independent study, and will graduate with a fully accredited degree. You can even progress to master’s level.
4)   Apprenticeships often have higher entry requirements than employment
Be realistic about which apprenticeship you apply for – some might have higher entry requirements than others. As the entry requirements are controlled by employers, they might sometimes be flexible. For example, if you don’t hold the required grades or qualifications, try persuading them with your transferrable skills. This is your opportunity to sell yourself, so think about what you have to offer.
 
5)   Apprenticeships are for all ages
Apprenticeships are for everyone. You don’t need to be a school leaver to take on an apprenticeship, but equally, you can start straight after your GCSEs, or after taking your A levels. If you are already in full-time work and want to change your career path, why not retrain with an apprenticeship?
 
6)   You will learn the same things on an apprenticeship as at uni
You might find that apprenticeship course content is actually very similar to a traditional university course. When combined with the valuable experience you’ll gain along the way, you’ll be in a great position to get that job you want.
 
If you think an apprenticeship might be for you, start exploring at your options now.

Thinking of applying to teacher training programmes?

Thinking of applying for teacher training programmes? There are lots of things to consider before you apply, and it can be quite daunting to know where to start.

Here’s our top five places you should check out, full of advice on how to apply.

1. Our website

The first place to start is our website. You’ll find out information on how to pick the right programme for you. Get in-depth information on which route into teaching fits you.

2. Video wall 

Our video wall is full of advice on many topics you’ll need to know about when applying for teacher training programmes. Need a hand filling in your application? Not sure how to prepare for interviews? We’ve got it covered on our video wall!

3. Free UCAS Teacher Training pack

Our teacher training pack is a must if you’re applying. It’s a free online pack, containing all the information and advice you need to apply, and what to expect after your application has been sent.
 


 
4. Our dedicated blog page


We have a range of advice on our dedicated UCAS Teacher Training blog. It covers subjects from advice on applying, to case studies from current teachers – to give you an insight into what to expect.
5. Get into Teaching

Finally, register with Get into Teaching for tailored advice and support. You can also follow them on Twitter for info on getting into teaching, and to keep up-to-date with any upcoming events or changes in the sector.

If you have any questions about applying for teacher training programmes, get in touch with our advisers on Facebook or Twitter and they’ll do their best to help.

Making the most of your time now you’ve accepted an offer

The wait to find out if you’ve met the conditions of your offer can seem like it goes on forever. To take your mind off it, here are three things you can be doing right now.

1. Check your status in Track – find out what it means and what you should do next. It may change over the coming months, so make sure you know what each status means and what you need to do.

2. Familiarise yourself with Clearing and Adjustment – if you’re waiting for results, they may be better than expected, or they might not be quite what you were hoping for. Clearing and Adjustment are our services to help you find another place in either circumstance – understanding how they work now will make the process much smoother if you need it on results day.

3. Sort out finance – you’ll need somewhere to live and money to pay for it! We don’t arrange student finance, but we do explain the process and point you in the right direction to apply for student loans.

If you’ve got any questions about your application, check out our info on www.ucas.com or get in touch with our advisers on Facebook or Twitter.

Some Extra advice...

If you’ve used all five choices and been unsuccessful with all of them, or you’ve had a change of heart about the unis you’ve applied to, you don’t need to wait for Clearing. You can apply though UCAS Extra!

But what is UCAS Extra? This blog post will answer all your questions about what it is, who it’s for and whether it’s the right choice for you!

What is Extra?
Extra begins on 25 February and is an opportunity for you to apply for another course if you’ve used all five choices and don’t hold any offers. You can add one choice at a time. If you’re unsuccessful, or you decline an offer you receive, then you can add another choice, until 4 July.

Is Extra for me?
Extra is available to anyone who has used all five choices and not accepted a place – it could be because you’ve unsuccessful with all five, or you’ve received offers but had a change of heart and decided the courses wasn’t right for you. Either way, Extra is another opportunity to find a place on a course.

It’s worth keeping in mind that you can’t change your personal statement or reference. So if you decide to apply for a completely different course, speak to the uni first to check if they’d like a different personal statement. If that’s the case, they’ll ask you to send it straight to them.

Where can I apply?
Not all universities will have places in Extra, so you need to do some research into what’s available in our search tool. If you select the option ‘Courses open to new applicants’ from the filter, your search results will show only courses with vacancies.

Once you’ve found a course you like, add it in Track by clicking on the ‘Add an Extra choice’ option on the ‘Your choices’ page.

When will I hear back from the unis?
If you’ve not heard back from the uni after 21 days of adding your choice, you can add another one, until 4 July. By doing this, you’ll cancel the one you originally applied for in Extra, so make sure it’s definitely what you want to do! If you want to wait to see if the uni will offer you a place (they have until 13 July to make a decision) you can do this – it never hurts to ring the uni if you want to check how long you’re likely to wait for its decision!

If you get an offer, you’ll need to reply by the date shown in Track. If you don’t, your place will be declined automatically – so pay close attention!

Have any further questions about Extra? Have a look at our website or get in touch with our advisers on Facebook or Twitter.
 

Pages