Guardian’s Guide

benefits of

University is a big commitment, both in terms of time and finances, so it is important you and your child are confident in the choice to go to university. Here are some of the benefits university can offer:

Employability Employment rates for graduates can be up to twice as high as for non-graduates1

Better career prospects Graduates are more likely to work in high skilled jobs, be promoted and consistently earn more than their nongraduate counter parts (See graph)

Work experience Universities maintain good links with a wide range of employers who can provide both placement and graduate employment opportunities.

Transferable skills Employers work with universities to ensure students develop vital skills for their working life before graduating.

Transferable skills Employers work with universities to ensure students develop vital skills for their working life before graduating.

Study something you enjoy With tens of thousands of courses on offer in the UK, your child has the opportunity to find something that they enjoy and encourages them to work hard.

More than just academics Trying out new hobbies, interests or even getting involved in sports at university is not only fun but often can lead to a career!

Alternative routes to careers

While university can lead to better employability, it might not be for everyone. Some people have different learning styles, interests and ambitions than what university can cater for.

A-levels and a university education can be beneficial later on in a career but they are not always required at the beginning, students might not know what they want to study and may not have the confidence to go to university yet. In the UK many different routes can lead to careers. The graph below sets out some of the better known routes. To find out more about these and many more go to: to find out about alternatives to university. to look at all options at the ages of 16, 18 and even afterwards. to learn about different qualification levels. to find a full list of apprenticeships in the UK.

The most common academic route is shown by the blue arrows on the left and the most common vocational route is shown by the green arrows on the right.

All arrows indicate possible routes from qualification levels to possible future work or extra qualification.


March – June: Research into courses and institutions. We listed some tips to help you with this on the next page.
June – July: Preparation for UCAS applications might begin in school. Guardians can help with personal statements as it is important that students get someone to read through their applications.
June – October: Attend Open Days. Guardians are welcome and provide valuable support.


September: Applications open on UCAS.
Mid-October: Deadline for applications to Oxford and Cambridge, and also for Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary Science courses.
Mid-January: Deadline for applications to most courses. Students can choose up to five courses on their application.


May: Students reply to offers and decide on a firm and insurance choice university.
August: A level results day, confirmation of places, clearing for those who do not secure a place and adjustment for those who might want to change courses.

Choosing a university and a course

With so many options, it can be difficult to help your child to choose the best route. Here are some practical ways that might help them decide:

What subjects is your child interested in?

List anything that interests them from traditional school subjects to hobbies and browse for possible courses. Always check what modules are taught on each course even if the course titles are the same.

Skills, qualities and learning styles

What is your child good at? List as many skills and qualities as possible and match these to what the course offers in terms of assessment type, learning style and future career.

Work experience

Work experience might help in deciding what career to pursue and is vital for Healthcare and education degrees.


With information about entry requirements, student satisfaction ratings and graduate prospects, your child can decide on their priorities for university.

Subject league tables

Which university is best at teaching your child’s chosen subject?

Open days

Nothing online really compares to seeing a university in real life. Even if your child is still a few years away from choosing a route, go to some open days.

Taster days and Master Classes

These events give an insight into what it will be like to study a subject at a university.

The Higher Education system in the UK is set up so that finances shouldn’t stop anyone who wants to go to university.

Student finance considerations

The Loans

Every eligible student1 can apply for two loans;

A tuition loan of up to £9,250/annum1 for the cost of studies – paid in full to the university. None of tuition fee has to be paid up front by the student.

A maintenance loan up to £11,672/annum1 for living costs – paid in termly instalments to the student. This loan is income and circumstance assessed.

Note: There are loan provisions for every student for the duration of their course plus one year should any difficulties arise.


As of July 20193, repayments for student loans:

  • Start the April after graduation and only once earnings are over £25,725.
  • Stop if income drops below £25,725.
  • Are taken straight out of pay check like taxes.
  • Are 9% of earnings over £25,725.
  • Do not affect credit rating or ability to get a mortgage.
  • All outstanding debt is written off after 30 years.

While university is expensive, over a life time a graduate is likely to earn many times more than they will repay, so it can be financially worth it to invest!


In addition to loans universities also offer a variety of funds to help with finances. These vary across institutions so make sure you research what each university can offer.

  • Bursaries which include discounted tuition fees, accommodation or cash and are linked to personal circumstances.
  • Scholarships which are linked to academic results or ability in an area such as sport or music and are usually limited in numbers.
  • Special circumstance support which include but are not limited to those with dependent children and adults or anyone with a disability, including a mental-health conditions or specific learning difficulty.


Jargon Buster

Higher Education (HE) The level of education that leads to a degree.

Gap year A year away from education to gain work experience, save up funds or go travelling.

Undergraduate Students studying for their first degree.

Graduate Someone who has completed an undergraduate course.

Higher National Diploma (HND) A two year work-related qualification; considered to be an equivalent of two years of HE study.

Foundation degree A one year course taken in preparation for an undergraduate degree.

Bachelor’s degree Usually a three year degree course. Bachelors of Arts (BA) are for arts and humanities courses while Bachelors of Science (BSc) are for science courses.

Master’s degree A more advanced degree, either taken after a Bachelor’s degree or as an integrated Master’s.

Joint honours degree A degree comprised of two different subjects.

Postgraduate degree Courses taken after your first degree such as a master’s degree.

Sandwich year A work-placement year taken during a degree.

Admission Team The people who receive and consider your application.

Halls of Residence Student accommodation at the University.

Campus University grounds.

UCAS The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service through which you apply to university.

Open Days Days during which you can visit universities free of charge and be shown round.

Prospectus A printed booklet advertising a school or university to potential students.

Student Loans Company (SLC) A non-profit, Government-owned organisation who provide loans and grants to students in universities and colleges in the UK.

Student Loan A loan students can take up from SLC to cover living costs and tuition fees.

USEFUL WEBSITES All things university related and the portal through which you apply to university. Careers website with details on a huge variety of career options. A list of all the university open days in the UK. A list of taster days available at UK universities. Compares entry requirements, course details and prospects of UK degrees. and University and subject league tables, helpful advice and guides on many university related topics. University guides, articles and question forums. A summary of options at ages 13/14, at 16+ and 18+. Student Loans Company website for financial questions. A list of opportunities if you do not want to pursue university.

Study Higher partner universities’ websites
University of Reading
Oxford Brookes University
University of Oxford
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