A guide to university for students
Should I go to uni?
Why study Physics?
- To develop problem solving and analytical skills
- If you want understand how the physical world works
- For a huge range of jobs1
- For great pay2
What could I do with Physics?
Physicists are not only teachers and lab technicians, with a degree in physics you could be:
An Astrophysicist who studies the universe to understand the nature of planets, stars and even how time began.
Possible degree: Astronomy, Space Science and Astrophysics BSc at the University of Kent.
A Special Effects Advisor using your knowledge of physics principles to create realistic special effects on the latest blockbusters.
Possible degree: Physics and Philosophy MPhysPhil at the University of Oxford.
A Renewable Energy Physicist who designs methods through which we can produce electricity from renewable resources, to ensure we can still have the homes, cars and gadgets we’re accustomed to.
Possible degree: Physics with Renewable Energy Science BSc at the University of Dundee.
A Meteorologist who follows and predicts weather patterns to advise businesses and warn of any extreme conditions!
Possible degree: Physics of the Environment BSc at the University of Reading.
What about alternative routes?
It’s hard to decide what you want to do when you are older. So if you’re not sure about going to university, these websites could help:
- notgoingtouni.co.uk will help you find out about alternatives to university.
- careerpilot.org.uk will help look at all your options at the ages of 16, 18 and even afterwards.
- findapprenticeship.service.gov.uk to find a full list of apprenticeships in the UK.
- Gear up The Study Higher alternative routes advisory.
For more information please register on the Study Higher website.
You could also:
- Go to a university open day opendays.com
- Sign up for a taster day or masterclass unitasterdays.com
- Get some work experience to find out what you enjoy.
- Carry on with your your hobbies and interests.
- Check out jobs on prospects.ac.uk
GO TO UNI
APPLY THROUGH UCAS
CHOOSE SOME UNIS
CHOOSE A DEGREE
I THINK I WILL GO TO UNI, WHAT TO DO NOW?
Choosing a course
There is a lot of information out there so while you are choosing a subject keep these things in mind:
These will vary from course to course.
Always check the modules on the course to make sure you get to study topics that interest you.
What suits you the most: independent study, lectures, seminars?
Do you do best in coursework, practical work or exams? Also does the course provide certifications you need?
Work experience opportunities and careers help
Does the uni you are considering have connections with employers, help with getting a job or a placement, study abroad opportunities, sandwich year, interview process training, etc?
Choosing a university
To make choosing from hundreds of UK universities easier, consider the following things:
Some unis only have 1000 students while some might have over 30,000!
How far do you want to be from home? In a big city or smaller town? Up north or down south?
Campus or city university?
Campus universities have all their buildings on one big campus. City universities are spread around a bustling city.
Cost of living and accommodation
The north is usually cheaper than the south. Cities are more expensive than rural areas. Quality and price of accommodation will vary too.
Bursaries, grants and support for you
Financial awards are different at each university. Check which university will support you most suitably.
Sports clubs and societies you might want to join
Do you want to carry on a sport or maybe try a new hobby? Check if the uni you are looking at has the clubs you are interested in.
What is the university known for? Academics, sport, atmosphere, and so on.
The Higher Education system in the UK is set up so that anyone who wants to go to university, can! So don’t let the finances deter you.
When you apply for student finance you claim two different loans1;
A tuition loan of up to £9,250/annum1 for the cost of your studies – paid in full to the university. None of the tuition fee has to be paid up front by you.
A maintenance loan up to £11,672/ annum1 for living costs – paid in termly instalments to you. This loan is income and circumstance assessed.
Note: These numbers change year on year so please check slc.co.uk or gov.uk for up to date information.
As of July 20192, repayments for student loans:
- Start the April after you graduate and only once you earn over £25,725.
- Stop if your income drops below £25,725, which means if you are not earning enough your parents don’t have to cover you.
- Are taken straight out of your pay check so you never have to go to the bank to pay it.
- Are 9% of your earnings over £25,725 (see table).
- Do not affect your credit rating or your ability to get a mortgage.
- All outstanding debt is written off after 30 years.
University can be expensive, but over a lifetime with a degree you are likely to earn many times more than you will repay. If you have an ambition, a dream, or an interest in a subject, it is worth it to invest in your own future!
For more information go to thestudentroom.co.uk or slc.co.uk
1 | Studentloanrepayment.co.uk 2 | parliament.uk 3 | graduate-jobs.com
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.
ucas.com All things university related and the portal through which you apply to university.
prospects.ac.uk Careers website with details on a huge variety of career options.
opendays.com A list of all the university open days in the UK.
unitasterdays.com A list of taster days available at UK universities.
unistats.ac.uk Compares entry requirements, course details and prospects of UK degrees.
thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk and timeshighereducation.com University and subject league tables, helpful advice and guides on many university related topics.
thestudentroom.co.uk University guides, articles and question forums.
careerpilot.org.uk A summary of options at ages 13/14, at 16+ and 18+.
slc.co.uk Student Loans Company website for financial questions.
notgoingtouni.co.uk 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
Bucks New University