We understand that you may have a lot of questions about what studying a HE qualification and university life is really like. Which is why we've put together a list of frequently asked questions below to help. If you have a question that isn't covered here, please feel free to complete our 'ask us anything' form and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.
Do I have to move away from home if I want to go to university?
Going to university doesn’t necessarily mean moving away. People decide on different universities for different reasons.
We recommend that you think about what course you want to study and which universities offer that course. Your perfect degree may be at your closest university, which is just down the road, or it may be hundreds of miles away. If you do decide to go to a university that is close by to you, then you may decide that living at home is the best option. It will certainly save you a lot of money if you can get free or cheaper rent at home, and it may also mean that you don’t have to do your own washing or cleaning!
Lots of students decide living at home is the best option for them and they don't feel as if they have missed out on university life, as there are other ways to feel part of the community. And don’t forget, you can still go and visit your friends in halls of residence.
Do I need to have studied a particular subject in sixth form/college if I then want to study it at university?
Not necessarily. Some coursed require you to have studied a particular subject at college or sixth form if you are to be accepted onto a course, but not all. For example, medical courses require you to have studied Biology so that you have a basic knowledge for studying at degree level. However, there are so many new and exciting subjects and courses out there that do not expect you to have studied a particular subject before. You may never have even heard of these courses before, but they could be something you wish to pursue as your career.
Make sure you do your research on the course and work out if you are going to be able to enjoy it and be successful in it. Broad courses such as Business Studies and Psychology are often courses which don’t require you to have studied the subject before.
Can I live with my friends from school at university?
It is actually quite rare for you to end up at the same university as your friends, unless you have exactly the same ideas of what you would like for your future!
There are so many different universities out there (154 in the UK alone) so make sure you are picking the best one for you, not just because your friends have decided to go there. University is an amazing opportunity to meet new people you never would have had the chance to meet before in social and academic environments. If the thought of going to university and not knowing anyone scares you, don't panic, everyone else is in the same boat and you'll soon make new friends. Join as many clubs as you can, sign up to activities and be that first person to say hello on your first day on your course. You never know, these people could end up being your best friends for life!
How many hours a day do I have to be in university?
This will completely depend on your individual course. Some courses require you to do a lot of individual study and do not have that many classroom hours, which can be quite a big jump up in terms of independent learning from school and college.
Other courses can be quite intense and will require you to be in every day of the week and potentially for long hours. University days go beyond school hours, so you may even have your lectures and seminars in the evenings. If you do have lots of time off in a week for your course, utilise your hours. Perhaps delegate time to a part-time job, work experience or completing assignments. With every course, you will always get your weekends off, but universities are still open if you want to go in to revise or study.
What are the holidays like and how long do I get off for summer?
Unlike school and college, you do not get half terms while at university. This may be a bit different to what you're used to, but it all works out, as you will generally get three weeks off for Christmas and Easter, and then around three months off for summer depending on your university start and end dates.
Some courses also give students reading weeks, which work a bit like half terms, but are usually during a time when you have a lot of work to be doing so you can spend time studying! Of course, you can go home for these weeks and holidays if you'd like the opportunity to catch up with friends and family back home, especially if you’ve been feeling home sick. The long summers are a great opportunity to meet back up with old friends and get a job to improve your skills and experience.
How long will my course last?
The duration of your course will depend on which type of degree you decide to study:
You can choose to study a Foundation degree which is typically two years long. It combines academic study with workplace learning and they tend to focus on a particular job or profession. They are designed to give you enough knowledge in a subject for you to progress to a career or further education, and are equivalent to two thirds of an honours degree. You can also choose to do this degree part time, which would increase your Foundation degree to four years.
Honours degree (BA or BSc Hons)
These are standard higher education qualifications recognised across the UK and Europe. They are typically three years long and often contain a substantial project or dissertation during the final year of study. Again, you also have the option of doing this part time, which would increase the duration to 6 years.
This is the same as a Honours degree (BA or BSc Hons) except you undertake a placement year within your third year and then return for your final year. This brings the duration to four years. A placement year is when you decide to take a year out to work in a company or industry, which is linked to your course to gain work experience, new skills and help you understand what you want to do when you leave uni.
Do I have to do all my own cooking and cleaning when I get there?
University is a time to learn to be independent, so this is the best opportunity for you to gain new life skills such as cooking meals (particularly how to do them on a budget), cleaning and doing your own washing!
However, do not fret if you really can’t stand the thought of doing all these things. If you’re a person who would much rather stay in bed in the morning than make your own breakfast or you’re a nightmare in the kitchen, then there is the option of living in a catered Halls of Residence, so your breakfast and dinner will be provided. Some Halls also have cleaners that help tidy up each flat/home on a weekly basis, but this applies to communal areas only, you are still responsible for your own room. Do your research and find out what accommodation best suits your needs.
What happens if I don’t like my course/university? Can I drop out?
We're sure you'll enjoy your time at university, but we know that things don't always go to plan for some students, and that’s okay.
It's a huge step and it may mean that the university/course or even lifestyle of Higher Education is not for you. You can only ever truly know whether you'll like university if you experience it for yourself, but don't worry if it's not for you. Your university will have a student support team that can help you out with any worries or stresses you may have while you are there. No one will ever make you stay at a university if you no longer wish to be there and if you still want to progress with higher education, then you can change your course or university altogether.
Will going to university mean I will graduate will lots of debt?
One of the biggest worries that students have about going to university is the debt they will end up with. There's no denying that university can be expensive and that you will potentially have money to pay back at the end of your degree but not until you’re earning over £25,000 and not all at once. You’ll pay a small amount each month, a bit like tax.
However, the government has a Student Loans Company which provides loans to help cover your course and maintenance costs. The amount you get will depend on your household income and each case is individually assessed. And the good news is that you won't need to start paying it back until you are earning over £25,000. If at any point in your career, you earnings fall under this amount, then your repayments will be put on hold until you are earning over £25,000 again. The amount you pay back will depend upon your salary, so the more you earn, the higher your monthly repayments will be.
If after 30 years you haven’t paid off all your debt, then it will get written off completely. If money is an issue for you, most universities offer scholarships and bursaries to help you out financially. And of course you could always consider doing a degree apprenticeship so you can earn while you learn!
Do I have to be really clever to be able to get into university?
Some students feel like university may only be an option for people who do really well in their exams and get the top grades - this really isn’t true.
There are lots of different options for studying at university, so what may be right for one person, may not be right for you. You should explore the variety of courses and see what the entry requirements are before you rule university out as an option. You should also check out a university's social media channels or student blogs and vlogs if they have them. These will tell you a lot about the student community and you'll get to hear about some of their current students' experiences of university. We think you'll be surprised at just how different they are.
Different courses expect different things, for example some will only be coursework based and practical while others may be highly academic and written work based. Acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses and pick a course that’s right for you.