"The standard of the delivery (online) was excellent...pass on my regards and thanks to @AronTennant @mojtaylor. It was definitely useful and I think it will have hit on a number of different levels from being informative of what opportunities they have around them to a more personal level of who they are and can be. It was a pleasure to be part of." - Mike, Bedlington School
Are you heading to university? I'm sure you have a few questions about what awaits you...
Push has been flexing our broadband muscles (it's either that or real running) with a host of interactive online sessions for students, over summer term - to 1,000s of young people across the UK. If you missed out, then chill (we mean it, it's baking out there). We've selected some of the most interesting (and useful) questions we've been asked by year 11-13s, regarding the HE Experience...
What's the difference between a campus uni and a city uni?
Campus university has all its facilities in one location, a city university will have buildings spread out over a town or city so you may have to take transport or cycle/walk a distance between accommodation, library, department buildings etc. An example of a city university would be Manchester, an example of a campus university would be Kent. Some universities are a bit of a hybrid so they may have everything in one location but the accommodation which may be a bus ride away. Examples of this include Leicester and Sheffield.
Also, some places such as Oxford, Cambridge and Durham, have a collegiate system, where it feels like a collection of mini-campuses, spread across the city (some in the centre....some a bus ride away on the outskirts!). You will apply to a college at those, not the whole uni, on your UCAS form, so ensure you check out each and every 'mini campus', it's location to wider facilities in the city you want to use and it's proximity to transport links back home. And remember that some universities, like Teesside University, have a campus in London and another in Hong Kong! These campuses can also be international (meaning you might be able to do exchange programmes with your wider campuses).
Is it likely you will be discriminated against for being LGBT? Well, better wording, would it be safe?
You should never be discriminated against for being whatever you choose to be in life, so long as you’re not choosing to be someone who actively goes out to seek emotional or physical harm to others. Unis are real advocates for free speech, diversity, democracy/politics and equality, as embodied in the role of the student union, and all the clubs and societies (for all causes, such as the ones you've mentioned) or the ones you are free to start up when you arrive there, to build a following about a just cause you truly believe in. Unis are often very safe, and have campus security and patrols, and sometimes even Police stations and wellbeing nurses / therapists you can go and book in to talk to, about issues. Remember: your £9k tuition fees are paying FOR these services, as well as the course, so find a place you are literally investing in, that believes in the same things you do...so you can find your crowd. Explore the universities you like, but not just their course descriptions and campus, but also their facebook groups and clubs/societies that currently exist there. Look at the ethos of the uni, and how it started and has grown - and what type of research it does. It tells you a lot about if you'd belong.
For example, Goldsmiths University of London has a lot of courses on gender and racial equality and they have a truly rebellious feel to the entire campus (reflected in the students who go there, and the lecturers and the courses they run). They have an LGBT Twitter, that is worth exploring so you can see the types of events they run to support, promote and protect their rights: https://twitter.com/goldsmithslgbtq?lang=en
Does the value of a degree vary depending on the ranking of a uni
Big question! There's no doubt that high profile courses/universities can help launch competitive careers such as Law. Additionally, some universities such as Oxford and Cambridge can really help open some doors. However, as a graduate you also need to be able to offer the right skill set to the employer. A 1st from Oxford won't guarantee you a job if you have no communication skills! My advice is to research all the options - work out what's most important to you - location? course content? opportunities for year abroad/industry placement? factor in your predicted grades so you know you are close to the academic entry requirements and then look at which of your choices seems to be judged to be a better option (also see my response to use of rankings question). Important to also realise that some universities have strong reputations for particular courses so although their overall reputation isn't in the top 10, graduates of the course might be exactly what a particular sector's employers are interested in.
Here's a good little video by Moj on choosing a uni:
How important is the ranking of a university?
Another FAQ. Always remember they are someone else's judgement - you need to know what judgements are being made to ensure those judgements are what's important to you. If particular course content is most important then a league table or ranking probably won't help. If graduate employment opportunities are important to you (how many students graduate from the course and go into graduate employment) you may well find this is part of a league table's judgements. They can be useful if you have a large number of courses/universities you are genuinely interested in - they can help you narrow down which ones to apply to. In my opinion they should be one of the last things you factor into your decision making.
Like our Chief Exec & Founder Johnny always says (he created the UK’s first printed university guide book) “the most important factor in your university choice is you. The biggest difference to your future is you. It’s all the more important to find a university that’s right for you and not one that fits someone else’s idea of ‘good’”.
Here’s a fun video worth watching (stay for the tips at the end): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZK81PQMxLE&t=2s
We’d recommend Johnny’s top tips to uni in 90 seconds too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAigRIBqi2I
Did you guys have a student loan and did you use it?
Every member of the Push team that went to uni or a HE college, have all ended up getting a student loan for their respective undergraduate degrees. There are 2 parts when you state on your UCAS application that you would like to receive a student loan: the tuition fees part. This is invisible money: it doesn't get seen by you, and goes directly to your uni once you accept a place on their course. The real money you experience and use (3 times a year directly into your bank account) is the second part: your maintenance loan. If you're living at home, you may not need the maintenance loan part (most students who live away use almost all of it on their student accommodation like halls of residence or a privately-rented house with friends, in the later uni years).
That's what we all had to do, and then we needed part-time or summer jobs to supplement our income through each year....plus a little help from the Bank of Mum and Dad (if they were willing and we'd wash their cars and help with shopping during holidays!).
Unis offer a lot of casual / flexible / zero-hour contract jobs to help you prop up your wallet through term time. Check their jobs and opportunities boards and social media whenever you get to your uni (you can also get paid to be a student ambassador there, to help visiting year 12/13s on open days). Regarding your entire loan package, you'll only end up paying this off in small chunks over the 30 years after you graduate: around 10% of anything you earn over £25,000 will be taken directly off your pay packet, by Student Finance England, so just think of it like a graduate tax, on top of your regular government tax through your working life: if you have a big salary between the ages of (for most) 22 - 52, you'll most likely pay it all back (with interest). If you earn a small-to-medium sized salary between 22 - 52, you'll most likely not pay it all back (85% of students don't...before any remaining debt is wiped after 30 years).
Here's some good Push video guides on student finance, from our team members who have experienced the current repayment system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldLnb8P-_CA&list=PLjMLpmetyGJvLuWhlHIUsE57Q_niJcNs4
Here’s a fab year 12 talk, filmed in a school, by Money Saving Expert’s Martin Lewis, on understand student finance:
Does each university offer different combination subjects?
Yes - most universities offer joint honours (more than one subject studied as part of the degree) - some will be X "with" Y which means X is the bigger subject studied and Y is the smaller subject and some will be X "and" Y which will be equal weighting of each subject. Each university will decide which combinations of joint honours they wish to offer - not all will offer all combinations. Equally each university will offer a different selection of single honours (just one subject studied) courses.
Is doing a Masters, after completing an Undergraduate degree, especially beneficial
Two things to consider here - firstly that many universities offer a Masters "package" which means you study for the undergraduate degree immediately followed by a masters year in the same subject at the same university. This keeps things simple (no additional application to make after your degree and it's all funded through undergraduate student finance) and is a common option for many STEM degrees. This is because in these career areas it's often a requirement to have a Masters in order to apply to become a member of the connected professional body or get "chartered status".
Secondly, there's also the option to apply for a Masters after your undergraduate degree and this could involve moving universities and a slight change in study area - eg. Masters in Screenwriting following a degree in Drama. However, this would then be funded through Postgraduate student finance which gives you a max amount (no link to household income etc) to cover course fees and living expenses - the max amount is unlikely to cover both so most students are then working alongside or looking for grants/bursaries to make up the difference. To undertake a Masters or not really depends on the career aspirations you have - please do ask for advice if you are considering applying for a Masters "package".
Also, check out this great little Push video on Masters and Postgraduate study, from one of our Push team, Lucy, who completed a Masters recently: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DqlbImZGCo
Would you say that doing a Masters is beneficial ?
Moj and Lucy (both part of our team) have done a Masters-level study, respectively. There is an MSc (masters of science) and MA (masters of arts). You can then go on to do a Doctorate in various courses (the highest level of study you can do, and become an uber-expert in that field). An MA or MSc requires you to truly care to great depths about a subject, or area of a subject, and perhaps to know how you might apply all that knowledge, research and experience to the wider world of employment, or to academia if you stay employed in it and perhaps become a lecturer. Every masters can be beneficial but you should be aware of what the masters will get you at the end of the course. Creative courses are more likely to equip you with the skills to get your way into that industry and further develop your skills past an undergraduate degree while more scientific masters may get you straight into a particular company as one of their requirements so it's worth remember that having a masters doesn't mean immediate employment and success in your job. Make sure to look into what you actually get from the Masters when applying.
Check out this great little Push video on Masters and Postgraduate study, from one of our Push team, Lucy, who completed a Masters recently: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DqlbImZGCo
Is Tik Tok a good job choice?
If you become an app designer or work in their IT / coding team, then probably yes! If you mean crossing your fingers to make money as the next big singing sensation, probably no. What if they go under one day or fall out of fashion? Focus instead on the wider skills you could take to other companies: coding, app-design and IT are all fields which will continue to grow (as will cyber security and ethical hacking, which are both degrees you can study in the UK) as we grow into the 4th industrial revolution (AI and automation). If you can manage to become a Tik Tok influencer then that should keep you going for a few years at least, but remember these kinds of careers are short lived so make sure you work on creating a brand image at the same time. .
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